A lot can happen in a year | 2017
Posted on December 28 2017
In the quiet moments of the 2017 Christmas break I am sitting down to reflect on the past 365 days.
If you are interested to find out what and when happened during 2017 (first full year of trading) then I hope you are going to enjoy this! A real behind the scenes post.
One of many joys of running a stationery company I get to use all the products (yay!) and this year I have used 2017 Daily Black Elegance and then switched to the Black Undated Weekly CEO OF MY OWN LIFE® planner mid year. The reason I mention this, I am sitting here surrounded by my two beautiful planners, going through each page and picking out key events and memories I wrote down throughout the year.
I am so happy I did this as it is so wonderful to reflect and remember all the amazing things that have happened. Highly recommend you all do this too! You will notice both 2018 daily and undated weekly planners now have “Memories to Cherish” sections to prompt you to journal a little bit every day. Even if it is a short sentence to capture that special moment.
So let’s start with January 2017, - this month was all about planning a new collection and enjoying many “firsts”. To only mention a couple, - first 5* review, first You Tube appearance, first refund, first lost parcel, first email from a customer who’ve loved the planner so much it brought a tear to my eye, as well as designing a new addition to the family, a weekly planner.
I really wanted to release weekly planners to provide an alternative for those who are not drawn to daily editions and naturally to expand the business.
Designing is what I love the most about running Ella Iconic. I can be found obsessing about fonts, line thickness, margins and paper quality for weeks (no kidding)! With no great surprise I spent a significant amount of time designing the weekly planners. I wanted to ensure they had our core structure: business | home | health | me as well as to incorporate new sections that would prompt me and you to get even more organised, remember to be grateful and journal, - hence, “Top Priorities”, “Memories to Cherish” and “Each Day I am Thankful” boxes you can now find in the weekly undated planners.
I also thought long and hard about the covers. Should I go for a similar look to 2017 daily planners or change it. It is hard to please the masses, as most of you loved the 2017 covers, but I also did get a few emails asking for more durable ones. So after much deliberation I have decided to opt for semi flexible faux leather with an on trend and beautiful rose gold foiling. This would make the planners more sturdy and show fewer signs of wear and tear throughout the year.
To test the layout and structure of the weekly planner I used the printouts for a month or so. Once I found that I could happily go on using the format for months to come, I knew I was done.
And on the 9th April 2017, the first sample was in my hands. I felt instantly in love!
When you design a product it first starts with an idea, most of the time it comes to me at 2am in the morning (I am definitely a night owl!). Then you start sketching on paper and testing layouts, - slowly migrating to the designing software. Huge number of printouts later you are ready to send it off to the manufacturer. But that moment when the final product lands in your lands, it is like no other! I was obsessed! My friends and family were probably sick of hearing about it!
In the meantime I was also designing the 2018 daily collection. Going for a similar feel to the weeklies, I changed the covers to faux leather, added a highly requested feature, - the timeline, designed a habits tracker (no more drawing those little boxes by hand!), picked cover colours and sent it off to the manufacturer. Theme for the 2018 collection was: sophistication, elegance and timelessness.
In all of this designing fun, I was fast approaching my first ever trade show, Pulse London on the 14th May 2017. Not only I was petrified as I have never been to a trade show, the biggest problem was, I still did not have any final products to share!
The manufacturer was taking longer than expected and I was seriously panicking. Invitations were already sent out, stand decorations bought, the final payment for the show settled, - I could not pull out! But luckily with weeks to spare, a second set of now perfect samples were in my hands on the 25th April 2017 (weeklies and dailies). Just in time, - phew!
May 2017 was a very special month. As I mentioned, I exhibited at my first ever trade show, Pulse London. Got my very first stockist, an amazing Irish company My Shining Armour. Followed by a couple more, including my absolutely favourite boutique, Anthropology. This was a real highlight for me!
Met some amazing people at the Pulse London show, including a business owner of Sevin London, who makes just the most amazing natural soaps along with gorgeous candles and other products.
And let’s not forget, in May 2017, weekly planners were launched too.
Rest of the summer months were spent designing other products, reviewing and checking 2018 editions as well as prepping for Christmas. Yes, it really starts this early!
In August 2017, 2018 daily planners were in production ready for shipping to customers in October 2017. Along with their super luxurious black boxes with black foiling (so gorgeous)! Rest of August was busy sorting out wholesale orders and preparing for my first ever exhibition, Stylist Live in London on the 10th November 2017.
But I must mention a couple of very sweet moments in between, - all taking place in September 2017.
On a very ordinary September morning, there was a buzz at the door. Thinking nothing of it, as I get a lot of deliveries, - the postman handed me what I now know a very special letter. This was an edition of Gifted Catalogue from NOTH with Ella Iconic being being featured on the cover! And not only that, the Tan Undated Weekly CEO OF MY OWN LIFE® Planner was proudly on the main page of the NOTH website too. Woohoo!!
Then in the same month I was treated by The Crow Kitchen to what I can only describe as the most stunning and delicious macaroons EVER. Thank you lovely!
Me being a complete stationery addict you will not be surprised that I was in stationery heaven when Grace London Stationery sent me a set of their absolutely stunning cards.
Right, back to the Stylist Live, - the show was just around the corner and it was nothing short of a manic prep.
Making signs (in house, - clearly I don't have enough to do!), designing a layout of a stand, prepping stock and trying not to lose my marbles! At the show itself I had so much fun. Met new and current customers, made friends with fellow exhibitors and before I knew it I was back in the office just in time for Black Friday.
And what Black Friday it was! Double bow purses sold out twice! 2018 Daily CEO OF MY OWN LIFE® Planner in Navy sold out in record time. I could not believe what was happening!
But I will be honest, I was waiting for Christmas like I used to when I was a child, but this time not for presents but for sleep! And boy did I sleep! I even had time to read a book or two (one of my favourite past times) and watch a couple of films, bliss.
So here I am now with a cup of tea writing this post and remembering all the wonderful things that have happened, I could not be any more happier.
Running a business is full of ups and downs and it was not all plain sailing but one thing is true, - I love what I do and I hope it continues for years to come.
The final count is yet to take place but I am delighted that over 3,500 Ella Iconic products are now in the hands of our awesome customers.
Enormous Thank You to all who have shopped with us, emailed and sent letters of appreciation, shared feedback and ideas, - seriously, a big thank you!
I must also say a huge thanks to my family and friends who have listened to me go on about "Ella" 365 days of the year. Helping with logistics, packing, sorting, celebrating the wins and cheering me on when things get tough.
Thank you all again and wish you the most amazing year ahead.
P.S Tomorrow you will find me in the office obsessing about the 2019 collection!
Founder & CEO of My Own Life