Today, betsy & iya turned 10 years old. This means that I've been running this business (ahem: raising this baby) for more than a quarter of my life. Whoa. WHOA. whoa. whoa, y'all. I have so much to say about this.
I write this post from the road. Will and I decided to do a 10 year anniversary old-school-style wholesale selling trip back east. I write this from Savannah, Georgia, where we've just had a trunk show at Custard, one of our oldest accounts–a small shop just likes ours but in a different city. Will got us 9, NINE, appointments on this 7 day trip. We have 12 custom projects in the queue right now, several of which I will be drawing for on this trip. I'm also designing for our fall collection and have a meeting in place with my design-assistant team (who seriously keep me in check) scheduled for our immediate return, the spring/summer collection is getting closer and closer (with a bit of added stress due to a few unforeseen setbacks...but ...just wait, y'all, JUST WAIT...), we are honing in on the design of the new space as the shell continues to get built out, we are hiring for two new significant (never-before-created) positions in our company which I have virtually nothing to do with (whoa), and our fine jewelry continues to gain more and more momentum.
THIS IS WHAT 10 YEARS LOOKS LIKE:
Hustle. Are we going to make it?? We're going to make it. We're MAKING IT! I'm tired. Like, seriously very very tired (but that's mostly just jet lag and driving). HUSTLE. Dream. Along this journey, there have been times (more than I'd care to admit) when I thought: I will never be able to do that. I'm doing that. We're doing that. We're doing it. We've done it. Now, let's do it again and again and again...
When I think back on the 10 years we've been in business, I feel major bursting pride and gratitude. And it has absolutely nothing to do with luck. Why? One word: HUSTLE. Will and I–along with our staff–have never stopped, never stopped working hard, never stopped believing that we're capable of everything we've never done before, never stopped believing and pushing ourselves and employees to be their best selves, never stopped believing that our team's work and our teamwork is dynamite, never stopped looking up (especially after we fall, especially then), never stopped seeing past the middle of the muck and mire, never stopped being right where we are, never stop, never stop, never stop.
I feel major bursting pride and gratitude towards everyone who's been a part of the business, who've bought our product, who've worked for us and with us (I love our staff more than I will ever be able to fully say), who've said encouraging words, who've been contractors, vendors, partners, neighbors at craft fairs, just sitting down with us to share stories and strategies, beer Thursdays and wine Fridays, our failures that have taught us how to succeed, on and on and on, coffee :), I do not believe this business would exist without all of you.
I am a woman; I started this business in 2008; I grossed $23,000 the first year. I thought that was amazing. For the record, I still think that's amazing. I was 27 years old at the time. We have been a 7 figure business since 2015 and we're not going anywhere. We had a beautiful baby girl in December 2016. In the middle of it all, we started another successful business and successfully sold it just last year. For at least the first 3 years, we didn't stop working. Now we actually take weekends and insist that our employees do, too. We've driven and flown all over the country meeting the sweetest people and the best shops. We made a decision several years ago to only sell the b&i jewelry line to small, independent shops around the world–shops just like our own. Even with that tough decision, we can be a 7 figure business. I think that's radical. That makes me more proud than you know. Our employees make everyone feel seen and heard in our shop. Without putting pressure on folks to purchase, they tell the stories of the items we sell and help people feel an actual connection. Our employees work hard. They work hard like we work hard and put pride into the pieces they make, the pictures they take, the emails they write, the way they interact with us and with the world.
Our customers are beautiful. You are beautiful. I hope you know that we've loved getting to know you through the years. We are honored to make and sell jewelry and other independent designers' work that make you feel beautful, seen, connected and like the incredible humans you are. Thank you so much for taking this journey with us. I am honored and proud to be in on it with you and can't wait to see where else we will go... together.
It took us years to solidify these, but I'd like to leave you with a copy of our company Core Values. These are the b&i values that us and our staff operate by. These are the values that we hope you see and feel when you shop with us and when you wear our jewelry. Thank you, again, for everything. Happy birthday, betsy & iya!!!!! I love you!
Speaking of babies, here's Gingham as the tiniest little puppy!
Hard at work in betsy & iya's original studio space.
Playin' around in the studio before it was expanded
betsy & iya takes on a market!
and, of course, a small, blurry photo of our original road trip!!