What a year! Twelve months with this little dream of August Cloth and mercy have I learned a lot! Here's a stab at some of the major lessons this year has taught me.
1) BE FLEXIBLE OR DIE
The last word any of those close to me would use to describe my general outlook on life is “flexible.” Truly. One of the things I find myself apologizing to my husband about most often is my lack of flexibility. I must be a pill to live with. Bless him. His reward will be great in heaven.
So needless to say, the absolute necessity for flexibility in this business has caused more tears than I care to admit. As it turns out, I don’t want to be flexible. Oops! I’d be peachy if things would go just as I’ve planned on an hourly basis (because that’s how I plan, afterall). But they don’t. They haven’t. And I’m learning to accept that they won’t. Ever.
Things that haven’t gone as planned and as a result have left me feeling like life, indeed, must be ending:
-weather sabotaging a photo shoot
-products not arriving when I’ve been assured they will and thus not getting launched when I think they’ll sell best
-children getting sick, needing momma, momma getting sick from said sickness, clothes not getting sold, and the work piling up
-not finding at market what I’m convinced we need to offer for a particular season
2) MARKET IS A MUST
Initially I thought I could just order the cutest products on the interwebs and go with it. But as it turns out, when you order online you don’t really know the color, quality, fit, and feel of a piece. And as a picky buyer myself, I’ve sent more clothes back to the manufacturer than I ever dreamed would be necessary. So what once seemed like an inconvenience...finding childcare, convincing (an easy job) a friend to tag along, and spending a couple of days every eight weeks shopping for clothes in another state...in the end, is absolutely essential.
And when I decide to believe that things at home won’t actually fall apart for the 48 hours I’m gone, I can enjoy myself, enjoy the sweet company of a dear friend, and buy some clothes that I’m in love with! And ultimately, you, the shopper, benefits! Since going to market we’ve been able to offer higher quality clothes all while creating seasonal capsules that have us drooling. So market it is! And I’m not complaining.
3) I WILL FAIL
I don’t like failure. But after 12 months of doing this little biz with you ladies I know that I will, and when I do, I will live to see the next day.
I’ll never forget the first time I went to the apparel market in Atlanta. We launched August Cloth in March but I wasn’t able to attend market until April. I went in COMPLETELY clueless about what I could expect. From navigating the city (something that I humbly admit I’m terrible at) to navigating market, it was like drinking from a fire hose. And I walked away drenched and totally defeated. One of my biggest goals in going to that market was to find some Mother’s Day dresses. How hard could it possibly be?! Hmmm...harder than one would think. After two days, more miles in my Dr. Scholls than I ever expected to walk, we left with nothing. No-thing. If it weren’t for my dearest, Katie, who busts her little hiney along with me at every market, I would have been in tears. But a little you-can-do-this speech from my eternally optimistic sister-friend and a bag of Target chocolate later, I came home and made plans to do things better next time. And most importantly, to not give up.
(One day I’ll write a blog about how we do market these days. Stay tuned.)
4) HELP IS GRACE
Because I have a tendency to think that I can do everything, on my own (but don’t ask me how I’m doing because I may dissolve into tears), this is one of the hardest lessons from the past year. And truthfully, I’m not sure I can claim to have “learned” it yet. I find it paaaaainful to ask for help. But there are a few ladies (you know who you are) that have *insisted* on supporting me and loving me well in spite of my hard headedness. And they’ve done it with no strings attached.
Now I never want to do market alone (that one time was a bust), can’t imagine not having extra hands at a photo shoot, and can go on vacation (or on a 3 week journey to adopt another little) and know that AC is in amazing hands, just to name a few.
5) WE ARE WHO *WE* ARE
The most natural thing to do is to compare August Cloth with other larger, older, more experienced, and more “successful” online brands. But when I do, it is death to me! And I begin believing that what we are doing is useless, meaningless, and pointless. Nearly daily I have to remind myself of what our mission is (#thisisouraugust), what we have been called to, and that our journey doesn’t have to look like these other incredible companies. In fact, when my mind and heart are most focused on who I’ve been created to be, I’m lucid enough to remember that our journey isn’t *supposed* to look like theirs. For the most part this even means not allowing myself to follow their activity on social media. Freedoooooom!!! Because let's face it, we can all be overwhelmed by the "reality" we see on instagram.
Anywho, thank you for loving AC for who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going! It is the community I have with you women that makes this all so fun and so rewarding. And Lord willing, the future is bright for this little shop! Following our calling, championing our mission, and serving my favorite ladies as we do it.