2018 – a year in review

Here we are at that transition to another year. It seems like the years are flying by faster and faster as we grow older. This year has been in my thoughts quite a bit lately. I have developed this funny habit of reviewing the year for the lessons, the highlights, and the low lights. Each year always brings lessons to live by. So what were the insights for the year? First some of the highlights:

  • 2018 was a milestone birthday year for Steve.  
  • We were delighted to welcome two new little additions to the greater bloom family with the birth of a son to each of our nieces, Megan and Jessica this summer.
  • In June I marked 6 years at Key Bank (and in honor of it the bank reorganized our department, moving me to a different team.) 
  • We fell in love with Aldi grocery stores, and their fabulous finds.  Cooking got a bit more exciting with some of the treasures we brought home.
  • In health, we both lost weight, with Steve making the greatest strides, loosing 60 pounds.
  • At the conclusion of 2018 our business marked its 8th year in existence. 
  • We traveled to 4 states with our art business: Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
  • We expanded into 3 more shops carrying our goods… and lost 1 shop due to change in their business model.
  • I read 28 books this year – almost at grad school reading levels!!!  Yes, most were business books, but there were a few for fun…. stay tuned to my blog on good reads
  • We participated in 37 art shows/fairs/festivals for a total of 55 days pitching a tent, and greeting visitors and patrons.
  • Our annual studio sale at ArtCraft brought record crowds, and thank you for making that sale a new record for us.
  • Steve reviewed his soap program (yes we keep a production and inventory log) and determined he made over 7,000 bars of soap this year.
  • Barb reviewed her log and determined she painted  104 scarves and held 3 silk play days in the studio. 
  • 2018 was the year of the pet portrait pillow… they were very popular, and i actually had quite a number of commissions for them. 
  • While we worked to improve our website and online shop, my blog posts fell off dramatically however the numbers of visitors to our website remained high:  we had 3,980 visitors and a total of 7,772 page views. 
  • Our Instagram account grew to 777 followers 
  • And our Facebook business page gave way to our business group because of the ever changing Facebook policies and algorithms.  

On the sad side, this year saw challenges – watching friends with cancer battle the disease, and a few good friends passed on. We are never prepared for those kinds of changes.

This was also a year of change, of modifying, adjusting and growth.  Among the major adjustments we made were decisions:

  • To eat healthier, and be more conscious about eating good foods
  • We lost our help with soap wrapping through Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries in early fall, but were able to find a loyal group of ladies to take up the work.  
  • We will be more strategic on the art festivals we apply to, and choose to be wiser with our travel and our time. 

Lessons Learned

  • The biggest lesson of 2018 is  the necessity of having an “agile mindset” that allows us to adapt with the changing market.  In business there are so many examples of companies that utilized adaptation to remain strong and vital,  and then there are those examples where change never happened and 2018 saw the end of businesses like Sears, and the decline of GE. Adaptability, change, and always reassessing the market is mission critical.
  • Acceptance and reaction- the truth is that often there is very little that we can actually control in life.  Its an old lesson that weaves its way through life year after year.  When life goes off the rails, or changes seem to come without anticipation there is not always something we can do to change that situation.  But we can control our thoughts and our reaction.  
  • Stop looking at everyone else, and focus on yourself – social media seems to enhance a side of life that may or may not be true… the beautiful car, the big expensive vacation, the fabulous well manicured photos that seem so amazing compared to my life…..  Wait… i have an amazing life, and i am not going to lie that these beautiful images cause of to drift off course.  There is a place for social media, but it cannot be the driving factor of my life. 
  • Through thick and thin we always know who our friends are.  But i was surprised a few times this year at who they were, and who they were not. Keep your heart opened, and willing to be friendly, helpful and supportive.

2018 was a stretch year for us.  I have to be honest and say I struggled most with life balance… especially the long hours of the fall working the day job, long hours in studio production, and little left for my home…. That is a big project for 2019 – finding better grips on balance.  

And our biggest lesson was again being reminded how wonderful you are… you have cheered us on, encouraged us, offered direction, insight, or creative challenge… But most of all, you reminded us that we are part of your life.  Thank you!   And may 2019 be filled to the brim with hugs, and love, and good things, great health, prosperity and peace! 

Welcome 2019!  Lets do this!!!