2017 in Review

Happy New Year!  I’m excited to have finished up 2017 on a much better note than 2016.  The end of 2016 for me was brutal. As I said in last years recap in 2017 I was really hoping to take better care of myself, and let go of toxic feelings (like anger, hopelessness) which included minimizing intake of politic and news for the time being.  I’m too sensitive and my involvement in the current news cycle was bringing me down.

I successfully got through the year much more cognizant of my mental health and taking strides to minimize stresses where I could.  I greatly reduced my news intake and intentionally carved out time for myself and with friends.  Below is my recap of some of the highlights from the past year.

Full Year as Retail Shop!
In June we successfully completed one year as a brick and mortar retail shop. It was a huge learning experience that really paid off in the end.  I love my shop; I love having a closer connection with the public, particularly my Logan Square neighborhood; and I even really enjoy the curation process of buying and merchandising other small card lines and gift items that complement the Steel Petal Press brand.

1 year anniversary party Steel Petal Press

2017 was the year of employees.  The last half of the year we had lots of coming and going of staff. Even though almost everyone left on good terms  it was still the year of  turnover.  In 2017 we hired 7 people throughout the year, and had five people leave for a variety of reasons (moving, full time jobs, work changes, time etc) Most of the turnover happened in the last six months of the year, which took up a ton of my time.  Hiring is time consuming and exhausting.  Starting in 2018 we have a really solid team in place.  I hope for staffing to be stable for at least a little while.

Hiring in Chicago

New Products
We did three big releases this year including 40+ new cards, bookmarks, magnets and wrap.

Taco Gift Wrap Wrapping Paper

Wedding Card

Wholesale Accounts
Even though I took a break from exhibiting at tradeshows to focus on opening the brick and mortar shop, we’ve still had the pleasure of picking up quite a few shops this year.  We are now in over 180 independent retail shops all across the US plus paper source which has 120 shops nationwide.  Etsy Wholesale was a great source of new leads for us this year plus our sales reps worked hard to get us into new shops.  It feels good to know we can still grow our wholesale line without attending tradeshows.

I was interviewed for the Proof to Product Podcast hosted Katie Hunt of Tradeshow Bootcamp (and you know how much I LOVE TSBC).  Steel Petal Press was in several magazines include Monocle Magazine and Voyage Chicago, and you can view the full press list here.

I spent 3 days in Palm Spring attending the PaperCamp+ conference, a business-focused conference for smaller mid-career, stationery companies looking for ways to improve their businesses.  You can read my blog post on that experience HERE.

Paper Camp+ Tradeshow Bootcamp

Steel Petal Press shows at both the Spring and Winter One of A Kind Shows in Chicago. And my favorite show of the year Summer Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago.  I plan on exhibiting at all three shows again next year.  Luckily they’re all in Chicago and I don’t need to travel.

Giving Back
We had a full year of giving back to organizations we believe in.  Every three months we donated money to a different charity based on our sales for that quarter.  We were able to give money to Chicago Women’s Health Center, ACLU, Planned Parenthood and Direct Relief Disaster Support (for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria)

Personally and professionally 2017 was way better than 2016.  I started off the year by finally seeking professional help for my anxiety, leading me to the proper medication and resulted in huge improvement in my mental health and on the rest of my life.  We finally got through all the transition in the shop and I feel like everything is finally settled in our brick and mortar over all.  For the first time in three years since I thought about opening the shop, I now have time to look forward to new ideas and future projects with Steel Petal Press

Below are some of my goals and action items for the next 1-3 years
– I have officially put my wedding shop on a limited access basis.  Although I love working with brides on wedding stationery,  I’m hoping to free up time to focus on other creative ventures that are less deadline driven and more creatively rewarding.
– With that in mind, I would really love to focus more on the wholesale side of the business:
– I would love to get Steel Petal Press cards represented in all 50 states
– I want to focus on building my relationships with my current sales reps
– I’d also love to work on finding more sales representation in more regions around the country
– I would like to get back to exhibiting at a tradeshow this year.  I’ve got my eye on NYNow (switching it up from NSS) in the summer.
– I also want to focus on refining and adding more products and styles to my line.
– Less work on wedding invitations will also free up more time for me to take vacations that are longer than a weekend.  Because I’ll be less tied down to specific client work.

LONG TERM 5 year plan – I would like to open up a 2nd or 3rd SPP brick and mortar location.
another neighborhood, or even SF, LA or NYC.

So there you have it, new goals for 2018 and a great recap of 2017

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