80% of small businesses fail before hitting the 18 month mark. Bluestockings' governing goal of 2016 was to survive past October 2016 (our personal 18 month mark).
It's now December 30. It's been 20 months, and in spite of a few omg wtf is happening please god let us stay open moments, we're going strong. Bluestockings is hurtling towards its second birthday. We're still here.
In 2017, my goal is for Bluestockings to thrive. And I feel better positioned to go after big, fun things that scared the shit out of me before (say, for example: pop-ups).
I feel more enabled to pursue fun things for the business because I'm no longer operating from a state of struggle. I hustle hard (anyone who knows me personally is aware of my double-Capricorn work ethic), but 2016 was really about learning how to work from a state of confident flow rather than a state of fear-driven need. Abundance, not scarcity.
When it comes to Bluestockings, I feel grounded walking into 2017, and that is a good feeling to have. Here are some of our biggest hits and wins from the past 12 months:
We turned one year old! Just to reiterate what a big fucking deal this is. We hosted a big giveaway with a ton of our brands here on the blog, we hosted an Instagram challenge. It was a fun time. (FYI, our birthday is April 18.)
TRADEMARKS! TM, MOTHERFUCKER! We got legaled up! "Bluestockings Boutique" and "Underthings for Everyone" have been finalized as registered trademarks. If you see other stores using "underthings for everyone" as a tagline, let me know! <3
Word of mouth is spreading! We got major press shoutouts on Buzzfeed and fashion sites like Racked and Fashionista without sending pitching, sending a press release, or hiring a PR firm. Woot woot.
Lots and lots of visitors! We passed 1 million page views. <3 (Screenshot is page views as of 11 AM on December 30, 2016).
Sales increase. This is important to say. Our net revenue was lower in 2016 (because expenses also increased - see things like filing for trademarks), but we surpassed our 2015 sales figures. Given that we did this even with a sale-less six week summer break, that makes me happy.
Website redesign. (I'd post an image but... you're on the site right now.) The website got an overdue overhaul in December. And you all seem to like it!
New payment options. We now accept PayPal as well as monthly installments via Affirm.
Sex worker discount! We <3 sex workers and show it by providing a 10% discount. Learn more here.
Having a "no sales" policy did not work. So, I tried this thing. This no sale thing (by which I mean, not having a regular "sales" section and only doing the occasional Black Friday blowout). The goal was to increase the average value of an order. The goal was to really walk the talk: if I'm pro-pay full price and support small business, then why would I do so many sales?
Raising prices/only charging full price is a strategy I've seen work with great success in two categories: 1) service-based providers and 2) makers with small, product-based businesses (note: makers, not boutiques). This strategy is much harder to implement with a retail store. When it comes to clothing stores, customers - even your best ones - expect items to go on sale.
The truth is that sales are far more valuable than I realized. Sales help bolster cash flow in slow months. Sales also help clear dead stock, enabling you to order more new stock - a major customer complaint in 2016 was that there weren't enough new items. Sales also enable people who want to support Bluestockings but are socioeconomically disadvantaged to do so.
tl;dr I really like cash flow, I really like moving old items out and new items in, and I really like helping Bluestockings items be accessible to folks for an occasional splurge. So, we'll be doing sales again.
This was an experiment that didn't work out. But I learned a lot (am still learning a lot), and am certainly going to be smarter about sales strategy moving forward.
Everyone on Bluestockings' email list received emails about oppressive legislation like HB2, why Bluestockings doesn't participate in colonialist history with Columbus Day sales, and - of course - the election. We talked about the election, about what we were doing in our lives, about our hopes for the future.
I am personally so grateful for the conversations that result from these kinds of emails. You're the best.
Since our start, charitable giving has been a fundamental value here at Bluestockings. While we have phased out the 18 on the 18th program (it's hard to get everyone to shop together on one day for charity!), we have continued to donate behind the scenes. This year, we made financial contributions to The Trevor Project, Metavivor, and Planned Parenthood.
We also made our first major donation of brand new, never worn inventory.
In December, we donated more than $1K (wholesale value) worth of brand new lingerie and underthings to Bottomless Closet, a NYC-based charity which provides working poor and homeless women with new clothing and interview training.
Last but not least, our 9 best on Instagram
(I think y'all like pink lingerie and motivational Insta posts):
Thanks for hanging with us this year, friends. See you in 2017.
P.S. Casual reminder that sales information is collected in annual sales reports. Year 2 Sales Report will be posted in April 2017.