2017 Year in Review, and the Day That Changed Everything December 15, 2017 14:07 3 Comments

Dearest Badger Friends,

I wanted to take this opportunity to say hello to you, and thank you for following our little company's progress. I used to write a detailed holiday newsletter to our close friends and families summarizing the year, but that tradition has fallen by the wayside while other things take precedence. Since most of my annual news usually relates to Bread and Badger, I thought maybe there would be some folks like you who would be interested in hearing our story too. This year had a lot of personal trials, so if you're into hearing about our personal lives, please read on.

Last year began with a crazy emergency, on New Year's Eve. That day changed our lives forever. My husband and business partner, Sean, had a seizure for the first time in his life, while we were on vacation with some of our closest friends on the Oregon coast. This was both terrifying and shocking, but we were both extremely lucky that our friends were there to support us and help care for our young son during the emergency.

We've both been recovering from this trauma for many months, as well as continuing to run our business and be parents. It's been a lot to juggle, especially since Sean wasn't legally allowed to drive for many months, and is still having to relearn the skill. We've been through depression, PTSD, massive anxiety, and a host of medical side-effects that are finally abating after many medication adjustments. It's like our lives were completely put on hold while we tried to find our new "normal", and we didn't know if we would ever succeed.

Not only were we dealing with this big medical situation, but the politics of the country, and carryover from a previous trauma to our business were really killing my confidence. It's hard to run a business on a good day, but this year has made me rethink every single thing I thought I believed in. 

The good news is that I feel like I've gone through a rebirth in my business. I've been questioning everything I do, and my motivations for doing them. I've questioned our product lines, our designs, our technique, our marketing, branding, colors, slogan, packaging, organization, location, management style, and basically every existential thing I can think of.

What makes me happy?

Why am I doing this?

What do I really want?

How do I get that?

This year has been INTENSE. (And that's putting it extremely mildly. It's more like the universe swallowed me up, half digested me, and then puked me back down to earth in the midst of a forest fire.)

Some more good news is that I feel like I'm finally honing in on what I want to do with my business (after first deciding that I wanted to continue running a business at all). I've finally figured out what questions I even need to ask myself to figure out what I should be doing next. Now, I'm working on answering those questions.

Our business sales are about half what they were last year, which is one of the hardest things I've had to come to grips with, work-wise. I'm still trying to figure out what I could have done differently, and hoping to start some new things right away in 2018. 

What does this mean for our business? Well, it means Bread and Badger can't afford to support our family anymore, since our income is basically zilch for 2017. Sean will have to get a job, and we will apply for food stamps. Christmas is very toned down this year. Our employee won't be getting a much-deserved bonus. We might move back to working from our garage instead of our glorious studio space. But I'm going to be laser-focused on marketing strategy next year and making sure that our products are better than ever!

What does this mean for you, our customer? I'm going to be looking for a lot of feedback while I figure out how to better serve you. I'm all ears if you've got ideas. It also means our product lines might be changing quite a bit from what you've seen in the past. I may try new things that are awesome, or weird to you, or just plain terrible--and I'm going to want to know what you think! I'm going to need your help to spread the word, too. Because I can't do this alone.

I want to keep running this business. It's my love and passion, and I feel like I've come too far to throw in the towel. I love making useful gifts for people. I love making custom art. I love vending at craft fairs. I just have to find a way to get paid while I do these things, and for this year, I've failed at that. Year 13 is going to be quite an adventure, and I can't wait to get started.