Well, here we are!! Another holiday season in the books, I was planning on writing this post around Jan 1, but guess what – it’s been below 20 degrees for what feels like a lifetime, and people need their hats. Due to New England weather, the STIK season is far from over, but the demarcation of the end of a year is a nice excuse to reflect and be cheesy - (I’m also writing this on a train to NYC, so you can bet I’m listening to emotional music while looking out the window pretending I’m in a music video).
2017 was a BIG year. While we’ve seen 3x growth YoY (year over year, dummy) since the start, this was the first year I’ve felt truly confident in myself as a business owner. First I’ll admit that I’ve always been an overly confident person, even when I had a bowl cut, braces, and looked like a British boy as a 13 year old, AND I think my deranged self-confidence is one of the reasons I took the risk to start a company with the word sh*t in it, but trust me, this is just a different feeling.
I think the feeling stemmed from a really successful fall that was set up by a very thoughtful and intentional summer. Our summer was amazing. With three hardworking interns, we worked moved out of my apartment and into a studio space and got to work. We expanded the brand ambassador program, worked on our packaging and brand messaging, emailed a billion editors (seriously, a billion) to get into gift guides, overscheduled me for the fall at every event possible, sat around and had anxiety about hitting lofty sales goals, and did lots of other things that I won’t admit in case you’re a competitor and you’re trying to steal my ideas!! JK, I just think this list is going to get boring if I continue.
The hard work paid off- our packaging is on point and professional, our website looks dope, we have gorgeous/cool/impressive/athletic/artistic/inspiring brand ambassadors wearing our sh*t all over the world, we got into a bunch of bigtime gift guides, I went to a million events and sold a sh*tload of hats, I continued to have anxiety about sales goals, and a lot of things lined up and made this a really gangbusters couple of months. Thing is, it wasn’t just luck this time – the way I think it was our first season – this time it was about grit and putting my head down when literally no one is thinking about the winter and getting sh*t done.
I’m now realizing that it’s the same feeling I have when public speaking: when I’m prepared, I am probably the best public speaker in the world (see above, deranged self-confidence), but when I am unprepared, my voice shakes like a leaf and I black out. This year, I knew what I was doing. I took the time to learn and understand things like financial modeling! Freight forwarding logistics! Digital advertising! Tech packs! Inventory Management! How to delegate!! Plus, I believed in myself. I believed in myself because of you.
“You” are the person reading this. You are my customer, you are my cheerleader, you are my spokesperson, my quality-control-checker, my entire business. Without you, STIK does not exist. This brand is different from other brands because you have been there most likely, the entire way. You’ve seen me get excited to hit 500 followers on Instagram, you’ve met me at a craft fair selling hats that my mom and I knit by hand. You've written me an email that just tells me how much you love your hat. You’ve cheered me on when I’ve found my way to the cover of The Boston Globe and you’ve cheered me on when I’ve admitted I’m struggling. You’ve exchanged your hat because you didn’t love it and then you’ve posted a photo of yourself in the Gunn Beanie in White Lie because that's the one you wanted. You understood when I messed up your order and you’ve told your friend that she should also buy a STIK hat because it’s so warm. You are the person I chase down the street to creepily yell, “YOU LOOK REALLY BEAUTIFUL IN YOUR HAT, JUST WANTED TO SAY THAT!!”
You give me the confidence, the crazy/deranged kind, to continue. There are plenty of low points in starting your own business and I’ve only let a select few witness me at my seriously low points. The tears are real!! But I rebound each time because the second I catch my breath from a really pathetic sob, I get an order or a nice email or something positive from one of you.
So thank you, thank you for buying your 7th hat this year. Thanks for making STIK your go-to best friend gift. Thanks for supporting me and watching me gain more confidence than should be allowed. Because I need this confidence to put myself out there again and again, to face rejection on my own, to take on this massive risk that is doing what you love, knowing that it could fail.