So…what were some of the standouts for Eli & Barry in 2018?
We made lots of clothes. This year blew 2017 out of the water as far as financial growth goes. It seems as though things clicked into place (they say the magic starts in year 5). We did 4 times the sales this year compared to 2017. It has me contemplating the future of the business and where I’d like things to go. It’s fun and scary to think about the years to come! I’m balancing between creating the business that lets me lead the life I want to lead (one where I’m not always working) and being willing to push myself out of my comfort zone. I’m really looking forward to what’s to come, but mostly feeling grateful at the moment for what’s transpired. Past Lily could have never imagined future Lily’s life. It’s a full life, for sure.
You might also be wondering who “we” are, since for a long time, it was just me running this show. These days I have so much help and I don’t know what I would do without the folks who keep things rolling smoothly around here. I now work with three seamstresses. Amanda had been with me the longest, but we also have Anna and Amber on board. They are all contract seamstresses for me and work on their own schedule. I also have Emma helping a couple of hours a week by packaging orders, cutting fabric and assembling bundles for the seamstresses to pick up. We’ve all grown together as a group and I’ve been pretty amazed that I was able to bring in such great help. Yep, still feeling that lucky, grateful thing.
We moved spaces. Twice. I made the leap this summer of renting my first official studio space. There were a few reasons for the move. For one, I didn’t want the girls who help out tp have to come to my home studio. It required a lot of last minute cleaning on my part and the scheduling would get tough. Now the girls can go to the studio whenever they need to for pickups or to package. The second was because construction on a new basement bathroom has started at our house and I knew I would want a place to escape the mess (so muuuchhhh dust and NOISE). The third was simply because we grew and needed more space to work in. I found a local space in Denver that houses 80 different artist studios with lots of options for price points and sizes. Initially, I played it safe and chose a space that was very affordable, but ended up being too small from the start. I then came across another space while I was walking around and knew it was the one. It’s quite a bit more expensive than the old space, but if things continue the way they have been, we’re going to need it. It’s open and beautiful and I simply love it.
I did it all while being injured. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, then you already know that i’ve been working with an overuse injury in my dominant arm since the beginning of the year. Practicing yoga five days a week, knitting sweaters, sewing garments for myself and pattern drafting for my business were the main culprits. It’s like this brave little arm finally gave out. It’s much better these days, but I’m coming to accept that there might just be some level of pain associated with my line of work. I’ve found the treatment options that help and I’ve forced myself to slow a down a bit and not do as much. These things initially felt like obstacles that made me weep with anger, but I’m understanding all the lessons a little more clearly now. There’s a lot more to life than making things and I had to rediscover old and new worlds to remember that. I also don’t think I would have welcomed as much help as I did if I hadn’t been injured. Having so much help available meant I could focus more on the creative and managerial aspects of my business and I think it all really helped the growth.
I learned the value of actively resting. Being injured will do that, but I find that taking time for myself isn’t about being lazy or unproductive (the language my mind can use from time to time), but an absolutely essential part of being a healthy, balanced person. I’m no good to this business if I don’t take time when I can, so it needed to be a new way for me: sleeping in on days when I can, curling up on the couch in a blanket with a good show and a knitting project, baths (so many baths) and sewing garments just for myself. The times that I give myself space often lead to big design discoveries, so it’s pretty much working when you think about it that way.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this immense year. I felt so much love and I grew a lot. I couldn’t have done it without you all! Thank you.