Thank You for an Incredible 2013, and Goals for 2014
Reflection in 2013
I have done quite a bit of reflection on 2013 both personally and professionally. It has definitely been a year of transformation for me in many ways. I have been given some really cool projects to work on in my full time job, and starting Carrie’s Closet has also been a huge shift. Getting married for the first time in my 40s to the most incredible man I could have imagined has, without question, has been the highlight of my year.
So back to the topic at hand: Carrie's Closet is coming up on one year in business! In December, 2012, I was in Northern Ireland with my mom. While I was adjusting to the time change, everyone in the house was sleeping, and I was playing in Shopify (my current ecommerce solution), trying to figure out how everything worked. After all, I was heading to New York on my way back to Canada, to find a product to sell online, and I needed to figure out how I was going to get it in flight on the internet.
My intention actually, was to find some unique jewelry pieces. That was the plan. I had a garment district tour booked so that I could check out the showrooms and I had my lodging arranged at the Pennsylvania Hotel right in the New York City Garment District.
Prior to the Garment Tour, on January 15, 2013, I stumbled upon Gracia New York’s Showroom and fell in love with their clothing line, the experience and the staff (an adorable little girl named Daisy was the one that walked me through the showroom). I spent about $2,000 wholesale, and much of that product line is what was seen at the Calgary Women’s Show in April, 2013.
Once the garment district tour started, I was walked into Anonymous Showroom, where I was introduced to many new lines, and ended up purchasing from: Anac by Kimi, Mechant and Tempo Paris.
After the garment district tour was concluded, I also found Farinelli on my own and placed a small order there as well. What a wild experience! I headed back to Canada with no stock, a handful of commercial receipts that I needed to talk to customs about, and a few day’s experience in my new online store.
I never did find a line of jewelry on that trip to New York.
Milestones in 2013
2013 was a year of trying to learn this business, find my feet, build up a customer base and to settle on some product lines my customers and I were both happy with.
It wasn't easy, but I did hit some cool milestones with Carrie's Closet in 2013, and I really have my customers (you guys!), my friends and my husband to thank. So let me tell you what we all did last year in the space of Carrie's Closet:
- Stood up 3 ecommerce sites:
- ebay store: carriesclosetcanada
- TrendTrunk Shoppe for Carrie's Closet
- Between all three sites, we shipped 151 packages in 2013. 3/4s of that number was in the last six months of 2013.
- My ebay store in December reached Bronze Level Top Seller Status (which means positive feedback on +100 transactions over a 12 month period)
- We exhibited in many small and large trade shows throughout Alberta
- We donated product and/or gift certificates to many charitable causes and silent auctions to support teams and charities.
- Sponsored a few cool events:
- Dirty Girls Mud Run, The Filthy Five in Thunder Bay, Ontario
- Take off Your Clothes Clothing Swap in Calgary
- Calgary Women’s Show (fashion sponsor Spring and Fall 2013)
- Learned in December that my target market was not just women. Over 50% of purchases made online around the holiday season was from men, purchasing for their loved ones (pretty cool!). I only know this because many of them I have emailed back and forth with in an effort to assist with sizing for their loved ones.
- Watched my google analytics start out flat lining and gradually grow to on average 100+ unique visits a day. Also watched the new vs. returning visitors grow from 0 - 2%, to 36.7%. Yay! They're coming back!!!! :) :).
- Implemented an affiliate program for my .ca website using ShareASale.com.
Goals for 2014
Fail to plan, then plan to fail is what I have always heard. Truthfully, I am not much of a planner, but more of a goal setter, so here are some of the things that I hope to accomplish with Carrie’s Closet in the upcoming year.
- Source some Made in Canada lines in a similar price point. I am not certain if that is possible, as it is a lot more expensive to manufacture in Canada. However, I have started looking already, and have not ruled out manufacturing them myself (don’t worry – for those that actually know me and read that with terror, “I” don’t plan on sewing anything, I am looking at sourcing it locally).
- Create a product line and find an e-commerce solution for fundraising. I have done 10s of thousands of dollars in fundraising for teams, and I know how hard it is. I have sold it all – simple simon pies, chocolates, oranges, spices, coco brooks pizza, etc. I would like to find a way to give back through a fundraising program if I can find the right products where the margins are there for everyone.
- I am giving back and getting involved in communities that have supported me. Specifically:
- Carrie’s Closet is endeavor to sponsor all Calgary Roller Derby teams. The reason why? If Roller Derby girls are a demographic, they are a smiley positive group of ladies and my single-most largest supporters. I would like to give back to them by supporting their leagues and showing more presence in their world, as they have shown plenty in mine. As you have likely seen on my website, their support doesn’t just include buying leggings. A few rollergirls have stepped up and volunteered as leggings models on my website. Thanks ladies for your continued support, and I plan on returning the favor.
- I exhibited across from PoleJunkies this fall, and got to know the owner, Alena Downs and many of the incredible women in that community. Getting to know these ladies shattered my perception of “who” takes a pole fitness class. What I realized is that there is a very wide variety of women and the ones that I met are incredible, all smiles, and committed to bettering themselves through physical fitness. I registered for my first PoleJunkies 4 week intro class in January, 2014 to see what it will take to get my ass off the ground. Since I have zero core strength, I am thinking it is going to take awhile…..
- We will continue to do trade shows to give customers the opportunity to get to know me and my product lines by touching the fabrics and trying them on. Outside of the trade show circuit, I am searching for other unique, pop up opportunities. For example, Flat Track Fever last year was an unexpected mutually pleasant surprise. J
- Figure out how in the heck to get shipping costs outside of North America at a price that customers feel comfortable with. The best rate I have seen on one little pair of leggings, tracked shipping (not even urgent, just tracked!) over the pond is $48. Outside of North America..... there has to be a way!! :)
Thank you all for an incredible year and for your tremendous support, emails, facebook messages, tweets and pins. All of your feedback, positive and constructive, has helped shape this little business into something that we are both interested in supporting and growing. I look forward to working with each and every one of you in 2014!
- Carrie Paxson