Here's why my 2022 word of the year was "EXPLORATION":
I tried a lot of new stuff-- some of it worked! and well... some of it flopped!
After diving deep into many creative business online courses in January, I was inspired to experiment with launching a clothing collection with a full marketing plan in place (as compared to how I was randomly uploading one item at a time to my website in 2021, and half-heartedly marketing it after the fact). I was really nervous about how a bigger lead-up and marketing plan would feel (seemed cringey at first!), but I quickly got the hang of it and really enjoyed the cohesion that comes with creating a collection!
(KIND OF) WORKED!:
I also invested in a gimbal (a device that stabilizes your camera so videos are less shaky) and created my first Charlie Darwin promo video for the February collection, which my partner and I filmed at the botanical gardens in Providence, Rhode Island... I think the video quality has a lot of room for improvement, but IM OBSESSED with our slick transitions!! Feel free to LOL with me that it has basically 5 views on YouTube 😂
The #1 bestseller from this collection is (still) the CANARY peplum shirt.
A couple months later, I launched my spring/summer collection, where I experimented a bit with patchwork stitching on pants. You all know I LOVE hiking in linen, but sometimes outdoor fashion photography can really make you work hard! What I remember most about this collection was how pissed I was when trying to get the photos for it because we went into the woods on a VERY sunny day which was giving us very intense shadows...but we prevailed!
The best seller from this collection is definitely the SWALLOWTAIL pants, I think because they are so sleek, versatile, and practical (yes, they have pockets!!)
In the summer, I experimented with home goods by launching a kitchen collection in my signature linens. This was a project perhaps better in theory-- or maybe it is more well suited to selling at in-person markets or retailers. I personally found it really refreshing to create a collection a little bit less complicated since it didn't require precise body sizing-- but as I launched it to my audience in the heat of midsummer, it just didn't take off as I hoped. This was an exploration with a little bit of a flop vibe, but I'm still in love with my samples, so you all are missing out!
Rewind back to February--- I got accepted into a PhD program! After finishing my Master's in Animals and Public Policy in 2018, I knew I wanted to become a professor in anthropology (alongside my artistic practice), and getting a PhD should help me get more permanent and well-paid teaching positions. I applied to different schools for a few years, so it was very exciting to get accepted. The move was challenging as I am now living far from my partner, but I did definitely upgrade my sewing and dyeing studio space!
For size reference, I can fit into that big dye pot below!!
KIND OF FLOPPED, but DAMN DOES IT WORK!:
Before moving to Pittsburgh, PA to start school, I tried to squeeze in one more mini-collection launch-- the Summer/Fall collection. Given my busyness with the big move, I wasn't able to put in the legwork on the marketing for this collection, so it didn't get the full attention it deserved! But I absolutely love these designs for how practical they are for everyday life. The star of this collection is the LADYBIRD dress!
I finally rounded off the year with yet another new experience: an in-person holiday market! A highlight of my year was being a vendor for the Handmade Arcade 2022 holiday market. Reasons I loved this market: over 10,000 visitors, indoors (sheltered from the cold), and really well organized! I finally got to see people touch my clothing and feel how soft and high quality it is (sometimes it is hard to show this level of detail online). I also was able to make connections with new local customers :)
By far, the star of the show was my scarves!
What else WORKED in 2022?:
Providing my customers photo updates on their orders, so they can watch their clothing be made in real time, by real hands.
Offering bundles of my naturally dyed scrap linen fabric so all you creatives can put it to good use!
Starting this blog! I love to write in longer forms than my Instagram allows.
Collaborating with the Creature Conserve mentorship to create an Animal Activism tapestry!
Sharing more BTS and connecting with another fashion designer in my interview with Natalia Trevino Amaro!
Thanks for following along with my handmade business journey in 2022!
Charlie Darwin's word of the year for 2023?