Life is an endless set of changes, isnt it?
Every year we sit down and look at the last year in review, and ask some hard questions about the year, our lives, and our business.
And the pandemic was actually a gift to us that forced us to look at our business, and our lives more carefully. If you recall, the pandemic hit just before St Patricks day of 2020, and our day job sent us home to work remotely from home. Shortly after that happened we began to see a cascade of emails cancelling all of the juried art shows, and events we were scheduled to sell at. Then the shops that carry our products were forced to close due to the pandemic. We quickly realized we had to pivot to a different model, and invested our energy into new ways of operating.
How do you pivot?
- Take careful inventory of what you have done – in our case we looked at:
- What art fares/festivals we attended, how profitable was each?
- What shops are carrying our products, and how profitable are they?
- How does our online shop look?
- Does our website need to be tweeked, updated?
- What did we really enjoy, look forward to again?
- Determine you will be honest about all of the information you are evaluating. Some things are not fun but they can be profitable, others are lots of fun but dont advance revenue
- Be realistic of your expectations and your capacity.
- a few years ago we booked 43 events for the year, which means we were busy almost every weekend, dragging our tent and displays and stock , spending a day or two in a tent, then tearing it down and dragging it back to the studio. While we had capacity, by the end of that year we were exhausted, and the profitability showed us that some adventures were not our market. We spent a lot of planning to determine that we did not have to participate in as many events or expend as much energy to have a profitable year.
- evaluate each shop your products are in. This is a partnership – we provide a product that meets a need for the customers that visit these shops
- are we meeting the needs of the shop?
- Are we regularly restocking our products
- Is our product selling? what is not selling?
- Does the shopkeeper find benefit for carrying our products?
After a thorough review of our “covid pandemic” year we discovered that our pivot to a primary focus on our website, sharp reduction of the number of art shows and events, and a purposeful intention to restock the shops we are in was the way we will proceed.
So 2020 was the pivot year, making changes to our business plan to intentionally reduce the number of shows and fairs we will participate in, and throwing efforts into our online presence more so. We added a few shops that carry our product:
- Urban Orchid opened their third location in Tremont on West 14th Street
- Revive the Crown in Boardman Ohio began carrying our soap
- Stella’s Art Gallery in Willoughby invited us to expand to a sizable display in their gallery.
- Cleveland Clinic Wellness Center in Lyndhurst began carrying a limited amount of our products.
And we left the relationship with a gallery in Peninsula. Over the last year we watched the sales plummet there and from a pure business decision we felt that change was needed. One of the biggest deciding factors was that the shopkeeper had sent an email listing all of the businesses in peninsula that have closed or moved. That info gave us a pause to wonder if there was something additional going on in that little town to reduce our profitability.
Mid 2020 we also learned after the fact that a gift shop/boutique we had been part of that was located at Cleveland Clinic had just shut down with no notice. The shopkkeepers apparently dissolved their business with no notice.
2020 was an odd year, but it was a gift to us to find more efficient ways of doing business. While we dont like the social distancing, and miss those heartfelt conversations the changes have given us a bit of our weekends back.
So change can be good… allow yourself to evaluate and pivot as needs arise. This is a good thing.