It goes without saying that 2020 has been a strange year for all of us. When talking with friends socially distanced or on video calls, there is one common question I have been asked through the year: is my business affected by coronavirus?

Unfortunately yes. All of the markets I booked in advance cancelled their events. What would be my second tradeshow cancelled too. All the potential sales and new wholesale orders from these events, gone. They make up a big chunk of my income. Mentally I was doing okay until mandatory mask rules came into effect, which was a real culture shock for me and the D/deaf community. After struggling the first few times with masked faces out and about, I became anxious about going out at all, and in turn it affected my creativity, motivation, and focus.

But there are definitely a few positives. I am so grateful to still receive purchases from my web shop and Etsy. It is less than I projected for this year but I did receive a few wholesale orders. I have participated in some online markets popping up; they don't seem to attract as many sales as 'real' markets but it is always lovely to discover and connect with like-minded folks.

home set up of my stall for an online market

I had time to try growing cactus seeds and vegetables which was therapeutic and rewarding! And I remembered to keep myself hydrated because things slowed down - when things get busy I tend to forgot to drink. I hope that as things get back to normal I will continue this good habit and look after myself!

Without further ado, I am sharing what I have achieved in 2020 and then my goals for 2021.

Top Drawer S/S20

I attended my first ever tradeshow in January. It was really hard work, not just the event itself but the preparation period beforehand. After having a very successful exhibition I booked another stand for 2021 (next month!) but unfortunately that has now been postponed to 2022. 

Exciting new stockist

Royal Horticultural Society discovered me in Top Drawer and decided that my products should be displayed in their Wisley shop! I received an email from them placing a massive order while I was still there, and I weeped in the middle of the event. Happy tears!

Magazine feature

My Potted Plants Thank You card was featured in Country Homes & Interiors magazine and I bought a copy! It was surreal but very pleasing to see my work in a magazine I can buy in the shop.

Wildflowers collection

I launched my biggest collection to date just after Top Drawer, and it went down a treat! I am really proud of this collection. The idea had been in my mind forever and I am happy I finally translated it to functional stationery!

John Lewis pop up

With the help of Curated Makers my products got selected to be stocked in John Lewis Trafford Centre for four weeks in February. Due to coronavirus it sadly had to be cancelled a week early, but it helped shop sales and grew my social media audience during and after the pop up!

Access To Work

When my business became noticeably busy in 2019 I made a decision to apply for Access to Work so I can stop relying on my partner to help me to communicate in markets. My claim got approved just before my Top Drawer event and I was able to use a BSL interpreter for the first time! I also got to bring one to my first market of the year. It was a very different experience than bringing my partner but I was excited to have proper support. I didn't get to make the most of my ATW due to the pandemic but I hope I will this coming year if things settle. 

Lovely commissions

I had the pleasure of painting a portrait of two beautiful dogs. I designed and printed a bespoke thank you card for a skin care company. I painted two exclusive illustrations for independent businesses. I did a wedding commission with a great brief. I normally struggle to find space in my schedule for freelance work, but when I do I really enjoy doing it - it is always a nice change.

Website refresh

I completely overhauled my website, including updating my product descriptions and adding new product photos. It is now cleaner and easier to navigate and I am very happy with the changes. I hope you like them too!

Brand new product

I introduced wooden hanging decorations to my product range and I am thrilled with how my watercolour paintings look printed on wood. I have some new ideas in the pipeline!

Now onto my goals...

Create products more often

Now I feel attuned to my new reality, I am hoping that my motivation and focus will improve when I go back to my studio in the new year. I also tend to hoard money instead of reinvesting in my product range, advertising etc. I need to recognise that I can afford these expenses and try not to be afraid to spend more regularly. This year I launched two new collections and a print and I feel I could do more next year.

Step up marketing

I rely heavily on Instagram to bring traffic to my shop and that is not always good. I need to improve my email marketing as well as exploring the new territory of paid advertising. I have said that my growth is not what I hoped for the last several years so I think I am missing something here and I am hopeful that stepping up on marketing will help me reach further.

Better planning

I'd like to think that I am organised. I am good at organisation, especially when it comes to physical things. But when it comes to marketing and product launches - nope. I tend to leave things to the last minute. So I am hoping to put my organisational skills to better use! I think perhaps finding an hour or two every week to sit down and look ahead of my schedule to see if there are anything I need to start planning on rather than doing things day to day like I always do.

What are your New Year goals? I'd love to know! I hope your year was not too bad and that 2021 will be a better year that allows us to reclaim our lives. For the meantime I offer heartfelt thanks for your amazing support this year!

Tagged: From The Studio