"As much as we can look back on all of the inconveniences, we see even clearer all the positive things that became of this year, amidst, in spite of, and even because of, a global pandemic."
We Became a Place
After our 3 months of being a pop-up shop there was no going back. We got so comfortable having a dedicated kitchen, a retail space, and the customers...there is so much to love about having a place to connect with customers every day. This building was made for us, and it could not have been a better opportunity. An old bank with old safes, repurposed as storage. Conversation starters. There are things I'd like to change, but being one of the first new retailers on Broadway Street is our way of championing on the redevelopment of a once vibrant business district in the community we love. Some of my favorite moments this year were when people recognized me as the "Soap Shop Lady", and when loyal customers proudly came by with visiting family members to "show off" their local aromatherapy store. Our place becoming that place in this community is really heartwarming.
We Became Essential
We were told to wash our hands, use hand sanitizer, keep our skin healthy, and protect our immune systems. For a long time we were under the impression that our products were pampering and a luxury. 2020 made us realize that's not true. We are needed. The products we make are not a "step up", they are the baseline. We make products people use everyday, and we make them carefully, safely, and to ensure health and wellness. When people didn't want to travel far from home, we had exactly the things they needed for themselves and their families. We became what cheered people up when they couldn't visit with their loved ones, allowing them to send a bit of love through the mail. We became the of the few places they could safely venture to, have a friendly face to talk to, a bright environment to break the monotony of home, and fragrances that take over the senses and change a mood as soon as one walks in the door.
We Became a Team
I have heard that a business runs best with a trifecta; a maker-person, a sales-person, and a money-person. Though it is possible to run a business alone, there comes a time when in order to grow, one must learn to trust. We decided this year is was time to invest in talent, bring in some new perspectives, and give this business some legs of it's own. What better time to take on payroll and marketing consultant costs than in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis? We don't always get to decide when a dream becomes bigger, but it is our job as entrepreneurs to recognize that we might be holding back when it would feel good to let go. We've experienced at least a bit of growth every year since we started this adventure. Each year we've made decisions on where to invest and where to cut. At year 6, we decided to start paying ourselves a real salary. Here, at year 7, we could have increased that salary...but we couldn't give more time, effort, or energy. Instead, we made that investment in others who could. These are the tough decisions we sometimes make, even in the midst of, and in spite of, unpredictable times. It's hard enough to run a small business in the best of times, but pulling in support and building relationships where it's needed can make a world of difference.
We Became Aware
From the impact of our industry on the environment, to understanding a community that was used to getting their needs met miles away from home, we became more and more aware of how we could make necessary contributions to better the lives of those around us. Just because we opened our refill center quietly, didn't make it less valuable. Just because our neighbors couldn't go to the gym, visit their massage therapist, or take their kids to the library, didn't mean they couldn't get their self-care and mental health restored in a different way. We held classes virtually to bring people together, educated people on the importance of deep breaths and long baths, and invited their families to make appointments for fun, safe experiences for themselves and their kids. We encouraged random acts of kindness, and continued to create new products based on the needs of our growing client base. We also started purchasing more of our business' needs at our local grocery, dollar, art supply, and hardware store. In the slower pace of life, we were able to spend more time listening, learning, and helping in ways we never knew were needed before.
We're looking forward to returning back to a sense of "normal", although, I do believe we are forever changed. Let's admit, life wasn't without flaws in 2019 or 2018. As we take these quiet moments of winter in the new year to reflect on what we wish went differently, we must also give thanks to what we could not have predicted going more perfectly. Happy New Year, friends.