2019: A Thoughtful Review
Where do I start? For my little business, 2019 has brought lots of trials and tribulations. From coming off a marketplace website and starting to sell independently, to preparing for a huge new step: wholesale.
January - March
It was full force from the off this year. I took two weeks off from my part-time job to get cracking on a new, exciting image for the brand. I started by creating 6 designs (in 2 weeks - I've never designed this fast!) and collated my first 2 collections: Plants and Animals. I put these designs on prints and greetings cards and with this, I published the new website on 30 January.
In February, I further developed the greetings card range when I released my punny plant cards. I love these designs so much that they have their own blog post! (see it here). These went down really well and I thoroughly enjoyed making them.
I took a few short courses in website management and marketing, did some local craft fairs, continued developing designs and took it from there.
(My lovely mate Max does all the mock up transfers for me. He's very clever with all that techy stuff - you can take a look at www.maxhhilton.com for more of his work)
Throw in a spur-of-the-moment holiday to Florida with my best friends(!) in March and this made for a great start to the year.
April - June
As usual, I took on more and more "extra-curricular" as the year moved on. I was cast in an amateur production of We Happy Few by Imogen Stubbs at a local theatre, I got used to a new part-time job, and I embraced all of the necessary me-time I could afford.
By this point I was designing - both for the website and for commissioned pieces - in and out of all my other commitments. But I don't mind keeping busy, especially when it's all stuff I enjoy! I developed my initial collections, worked on what products I wanted to bring in next, and created a variety of designs and marketing material for other businesses.
The lovely ladies at Green Rooms Botanical Markets contacted me for the second year in a row asking for illustrations to help promote their upcoming events (see the full blog post about working with Green Rooms here), my good friend Emily took me on board to create the logo for her new macrame business (more here), and my favourite couple Patti & Josh even asked me to design their wedding stationary (and this amazing line drawing of London & the Philippines!) which was super exciting.
Side note: I'm flying out to Boracay (1 of Philippine's 7,000 islands) next April for the wedding and I cannot wait! I feel so privileged to be a part of the preparations.
July - September
In summer came lots of new products. The stickers came in June, starting with the leopard guy, lil cactus and classic Louis Theroux pun. I added more plant-y ones later, just in time for the first Green Rooms market I was able to actually take part in on 25 August!
July saw me selling my designs at a number of summer craft fairs, and I was able to introduce my latest product - T-shirts! I kept it simple with just 2 different leopard designs and they've gone down really well at fairs and online. I also started on a new collection: Places.
7 September 2019 marked the 5 year anniversary of MerryNotesDesigns! I cannot fathom where that time has gone, but it's been a very fun ride and here's to the next 5! To celebrate this milestone, I did a social media giveaway through Facebook & Instagram, in which I offered a T-shirt, A5 cheese-plant print (new from August) and the punny Louis Theroux sticker to one lucky winner. This went down a storm, and I followed it with a one-day 50% off sale (because why not?). This was very enjoyable and a lovely way to get people involved at this exciting time for the business.
I also managed to find time in these months to update my online graphic design portfolio, which hones in more on my freelance work. You can see it here.
October - December
Christmas prep. Enough said.
My first post on Instagram in October was actually advertising for people to contact me early for Christmas customs. Luckily, most of them did, and so the Christmas rush this year was generally spread out quite nicely. The fairs, on the other hand, not so much - but that was the plan. I did 3 fairs in 4 days (29 Nov, 1st Dec and 2nd Dec), allowing me to prep everything for them in one go and get them all out of the way nice and early - but that's not to say I don't love doing them! They were heaps of fun this year. I released a fun new Christmas card collection that went down really well.
Now would be a good time to mention that throughout this year I have been preparing for a big step for my small business. In January 2020, I will be exhibiting my wares for wholesale(!) at the UK's leading lifestyle trade show Top Drawer at the huge London Olympia exhibition venue. For this I am both immensely excited and extremely terrified. Is my brand ready? Did I jump into this too quickly? But honestly, as it gets closer and closer, I've adopted the belief that the main thing is to have fun with it. My best friend is helping me out for the whole 3 days, I've prepared meticulously, invited clients, and allowed myself to more-or-less accept any outcome. With just a matter of weeks to go, I'm finally feeling (mostly) ready. So bring it on.
Right now, I've just finished my final designs to add to the catalogue for Top Drawer, and of course, my website. I've adapted my favourite plant puns to colourful prints and made some fun greetings cards from my animal designs.
And that's my 2019 I guess.
If you've had the patience (or even interest) to read this whole post, then thank you very much! I suppose I'm mostly writing it for myself. It's actually been quite therapeutic to reflect on the year like that. And on that note, here's to further newness and success in 2020! Now to finalise preparations for Olympia. Maybe a long shot, but I'm at stand PL4 in Pulse if you're going to be there! Happy Holidays everyone & here's to the New Year.