It's been such a long while since I posted anything to our blog page I thought I'd do a little update so you can see what we've been up to for the last TWO years.
When I wrote my last feature we had a 10 week old baby and were part way through our first year of having Sam onboard with Poppins & Co. full time. The business was picking up pace and the realities of juggling a growing business and a tiny human were setting in. What followed then was our biggest Q4 we had ever experienced. A mixture of night shifts, day shifts and temp staff all alongside night feeds, sleep routines and getting to grips with parenthood. Thousands of handmade cards and gifts were made, packaged and dispatched from our little studio and there was very little time to think. We also had a 'pandemic wedding' on the eve of the second lockdown in 2020. How we managed to squeeze so many gigantic life events alongside a booming business that year I still don't really know. It was a very intense period but one that we learned a lot from and really helped us to gain confidence as a brand and also gave me a little thumbs up as an illustrator.
As with many creative types I tend to be plagued with self doubt. To this day I get people asking me - 'Dinosaurs in Christmas hats? Really? Does anyone buy them?'. The answer is a rather resounding YES. My ideas might be a little bit unusual but the love our customers have shown for my quirky illustrations has helped me to firmly dig my heels in and strive for all things weird and wonderful. Learning to 'lean in' to my own unique style and way of thinking is probably the key thing to have led to my growth over the past 2 years.
At the end of 2021 we had our first major disaster as a business when we fell victim to a hacking of our Facebook business page. We lost a lot, not just financially but also in losing our access to a platform where we had cultivated customer relationships over for many years. It was a difficult time and with a family to support it was an emotionally challenging time as well. We were very lucky to have survived this and the changes we have implemented since make me feel very proud and confident in our ability to withstand anything. If pure determination were the key to success then we'd have no problem achieving anything we put our minds to!
Our product lines have adapted over the last couple of years and we've realised that our true passion still lays with the luxury paper goods and nature inspired illustrations which formed our basis. I love being able to look back on how the illustrations have developed over this time and how our wonderful customers feedback has informed many of these changes. Our customer base has grown even further as we now have wonderful stockists of our greetings cards and its a very heady feeling to see our work in beautiful boutiques and gift shops all over the world.
Global and national challenges have meant that we have had to adapt, like many other people across the country. It's been a difficult time for many, not just small businesses as cost of living increases and energy prices soar. The day to day running of the business now rests solely on my shoulders as Sam has returned to an E-commerce Manager role with another small business. Our littlest team member is our 2 year old daughter and although she's not quite ready to lend a hand with operations (and I'm not prepared to openly flout child labour laws) she has helped me to spend more time putting paint to paper and to get back in touch with nature after what felt like a very long period of isolation following the pandemic.
Juggling design time with childcare is a constant challenge. I know if I look away for a second my sofa might get covered in sun cream (true story) and if I try to draw near by she's going to want to 'join in' on the Ipad and I might lose yet another apple pencil to her very enthusiastic illustrative efforts. I am full of design ideas and over the past couple of months these new designs are beginning to flow out into tangible products with many more on the way. It's a truly uplifting feeling to be able to create again and I am so excited to share my new designs with the world.
Our most recent product launch was for our Personalised Social Stationery Sets - which have taken off more than we could have imagined. They encompass everything that is important to us as a business; a luxury product, fine paper from a family owned business, elegant illustration and earth friendly materials - all beautifully packaged as a gorgeous gift. It's the product I am most proud of recently and was very much a collaborative effort between Sam and myself.
It's been two years of learning, challenges and growth - but I feel it has firmly cemented what we want Poppins & Co. to stand for. We are a family business and 100% of our products are handmade in our home studio. This is a challenge in itself but its important to us to maintain luxury quality with the authenticity of hand finishing every product. Lovingly handmade isn't just a catchphrase - its a commitment that we make to our customers and we strive very, very hard to live up to the high standards you have all come to know us for.
In the next few weeks and months you will see new designs and new products being added and I can't wait to hear what you all make of them. Feel free to pop me an email with any questions, feedback or requests too. I love working with individuals to make a dream come to life!
Heres to future of Poppins & Co. - surviving and thriving since 2016!