(image by design love fest)
- You can do anything, but not everything.
This quote is what I keep telling myself after recently making a really big decision for my brand and my business.
We are closing our retail location.
There. I said it. It feels as if I am declaring failure, when I know deep down this is a business decision and a smart one at that. But, it still hurts to tell the world that something I did, something I tried, something I dreamed about, didn't work out. As a perfectionist, this is something I struggle with. I don't like criticism and I don't like defeat. One of my goals this year was to share more of myself, my feelings, like I used to do when this blog was new. So, here I am, sharing that I am sad and disappointed in the hopes that if you go through something similar, you will always look at the positive side.
In Fall of 2014, an opportunity came up to share space with FOUND, the most gorgeous furniture/accessory store you could ever imagine. It was a dream come true, given I had looked into leasing my own large space only to find that everyone wanted a 5 year lease and retail space is expensive where we live. An expensive 5 year lease could have killed my business, so it was never anything I seriously considered. So I jumped at the opportunity to share space with FOUND in their beautiful, high-end lifestyle center surrounded by stores like Banana Republic and Sur La Table. It was a dream come true... I put together my shop inspiration board on Pinterest, filled with white paneled walls, fancy chandeliers and all things pretty. I called my contractor, and within a month we built our retail shop as well as rented additional space and moved our warehouse to the back of the new building. My amazing team put in the hours to make it pretty and get the warehouse setup in a crazy organized manner. All was well. Thankfully, the owners let me do a year lease, since it was really a big test to see how TomKat would do in retail. We expanded our product lines to more gift and stationery, which was pure fun for me to pick out the cutest stuff around! Our online business continued to flourish, and the retail sales were a nice bonus!
As time went on, I felt the pull in so many directions. My time had always been torn between running the online shop and doing my creative projects and photo shoots, but having a retail shop added another layer of stress to an already busy mind. I am terrible at delegating (remember I am a perfectionist) and running a huge team of people frightens me (I want to be creative, not a manager). In Fall of 2015, I was approached with an idea that would take some of the load off of me and you better bet I jumped at it. I believe that when you are doing it all, you aren't doing anything well. I made the decision to partner with the incredible team at Studio Calico to handle our online sales, inventory, warehousing, fulfillment and shipping....and new product development (YAY!) These people know what they are doing. They've got a team of experts in their fields and they've got the logistics down, unlike me who figures it out as she goes. My mom was out of a job (sorry,mom!), but HOORAY! some of the stress and responsibilities were taken off of my plate. In October, we moved our warehouse to Kentucky and started developing new product lines and ideas with our new partner. I can't tell you how exciting that is! More details soon...
With the larger part of our inventory and sales being handled out of state, the reality of what would fall on the retail store quickly hit me. And even though we had our best month ever in December (hello, Christmas gifts!) when I took a hard look at numbers again, it just isn't enough profit to add more stress to my life. Don't get me wrong, if I were a normal shop owner and actually worked at the shop all week, the numbers would be good! But because my other projects and photo shoots keep me away from the shop, I am filled with guilt for always leaving my amazing staff to fend for themselves and handle everything on their own. If the shop was the only part of my business, and I could give it my full attention, I know it could thrive...but I just don't have that time! After weighing all of these factors, this decision got easier.
I am ready to let go of that guilt and let go of this little portion of the many dreams that I have for TomKat. It doesn't mean retail isn't a possibility in the future, but now is not the time. I know all of the things I could be doing to make the retail shop better, but it would take me being there and a lot of time to get things going and that is not where my heart is. My heart tells me that I am supposed to be were I am most happy. Working from home, generating ideas, creating and styling for my brand partners and my own brand. The retail shop opportunity came up, I jumped on it and I'm so glad I did.
(image source unknown)
Thanks for listening,