As we creep over the finish line of the year that will forever be etched in our collective memory as 'the year of face masks and hand sanitiser', we wanted to take a deep breath and reflect on the last 12 months.
It's been a lot.
I'm going to break it down into two big chunks, the things that went wrong and the things that went right. I know each of you reading will have had a different experience so this is just from my view, from where I sit here in Australia. I hope your tally of good and bad feels somewhat evenly balanced too.
The things that went wrong:
We cancelled flights we had booked for China, Italy, UK and USA. Seems we couldn't have picked a worse itinerary as we watched each of those countries be swept by Covid as the weeks rolled by early in the year.
Production was an uphill battle after our factory was shut down at the start of the year. the timing meant no new lockers were being made for around 2 months at the time when we had planned to really up our game and build up stock for the year ahead. Our first containers of the year arrived in May, the last ones were November 2019 so it was a reallllly long, painful wait!
If production was hard, freight has felt close to impossible! There's been a shortage of containers in China and an over supply in Sydney meaning we couldn't get rid of empty ones for weeks! There were typhoons affecting loading in China and storms affecting unloading in the UK to name a few surprises! Early in the year as production ground to a halt, boats were being cancelled and pushed back as demand was so low there wasn't enough to sail. Then later in the year as demand reached epic highs, containers were being pushed back as space ran out and costs of freight doubled. We always build in buffers to our production planning but no matter how much we tried to plan, every step of the way had surprises.
Since we weren't able to travel to spend time at our factory it slowed down the development of the new products we had planned to launch in 2020. We had to work through photos and wait months for samples to arrive and then with production hours being focused on our existing range we decided to push the launch back til next year. Ditto with a new colour we have up our sleeves!
We've missed each other, we've missed our families, we've missed working in our office with our team. With trade shows and events off the agenda we've just seen so few people and we really do like you all! It's meant changing up how we work and ensuring that all our team have things to lifts their moods and the flexibility to make the changes manageable.
It would feel amiss not to mention the intensity of the events that made the headlines this year. The bush fires that swept across Australia, Corona virus, Black Live Matters woke the world up and Trump, well I wrote say anymore! With these, daily Covid updates and death toll and so many more heavy stories it's been a tough year to feel positive and the enormity of these events has shaken us all. It's hard to navigate the demands of social media through so many twists and turns. Our brand is a reflection of who we are and at times we felt lost and broken but also responsible for what we put out in the world. So we shared, we talked, we try to stay open.
Of course, amongst it all there's been the warm fuzzy stuff that makes it all worth while. There's the unexpected nice emails, the moments where it all just comes together and the kindness of a surprise present turning up out of the blue! There is always joy to be found and this year was no different.
The things that went right:
Firstly, because he deserves to come first, I welcomed little Otis into our family. There's nothing like a healthy new baby to make you feel happy and like everything might just turn out ok! That and tired and with my hands full but that's just how it goes! His big brothers Dylan and Ellis adore him and with Dad Jono taking parental leave we've been able to spend a lot more time all together getting to know him (and watching The Crown while eating dark chocolate!)
Another new addition to our lives was Sage, our gorgeous new green shade that has been somewhat of an instagram sensation! We launched it with an epic giveaway with @beachroadinteriors, @houselust @heartzeena and @home_with_rose. We really hoped it was a colour that would hit the spot and considering how fast it sold out we're allowing ourselves a little pat on the back!
This year sales have yo-yoed up and new as stock came in and then rapidly sold out in a flash. It's one of those 'good problems to have!' With so many more people working from home and stuck inside dreaming up new ways to rearrange their living room we've seen the demand for our versatile lockers grow higher than ever. It's been a dream come true to see so many lockers find new homes and bring a bit of joy to our customers.
Black Friday was hectic. Just mad really! As a team we played a guessing game (the prizes were Uber eats vouchers because food is always a good incentive!) We each guessed how many orders we thought we'd get over the four days in the UK and Australia. It will probably give you a good insight into Mustard to know that Jess and I predicted the least number of orders and lost the game! We did not expect to be where we are right now as a business. We didn't see it coming and we are constantly having to re-write our expectations to keep up with all the good stuff that keeps on coming!
In a world where jobs have been axed for so many, we feel truly lucky to be in a position to not only keep our team but also hire more staff. We added Marc to the team full time, Paris to our team in Australia and Lucinda will be starting with us in the UK in January. We always say "it's all about the people" and we're lucky to have so many gems around us.
Donating each month to Beam has been a personal highlight for us as business owners. Knowing that our homewares business has contributed to help people experiencing homelessness is something we are deeply proud of. Mustard has now donated over £35,000 to Beam.
Rounding off my list of good stuff is Jess and Marc getting engaged! Yay! Let the wedding planning commence :)
It's been a wild ride you guys, it really has. As I sit here reflecting on the year gone by, it's gratitude that I feel the most. Our business has made it through 2020 and the future is still shining bright for Mustard. I'm so thankful to the people that have supported us through it all and to Jess (hey Jess!) for doing it all with me from the opposite side of the world.
Love Becca x