Monday, May 12, 2014

Just Wish Update - May, 2014

Wow ... where to begin? April closed out as the most successful month since the inception of Just Wish and we feel grateful and blessed.  : )

We surpassed all of our goals and had a spectacular finish beyond anything we ever imagined. Several unexpected placements on popular sites and blogs in mid-month caused sales to sky rocket. It was all we could do to keep up with the orders. Sleep was scarce for several weeks but we kept up the assembly line production that has expanded from Kathryn's studio into our dining room. Most days now we work in the larger dining room area, storing our products in the studio. After the morning routine of getting the kids fed, dressed and out the door to school, we move everything out and begin production. Most days the kids are banned from the dining room after they return home as we're still working and making products to fill our orders. Then we put everything away, reset the table cloth for dinner, and get on with the business of homework, dinner and raising a family. In the morning we do it all over again.

It's tempting to work 6 and 7 days a week and there have been times when we've had no choice. But we are still determined to set aside at least one or two days a week to leave it all boxed and in the studio to decompress and enjoy some time off. It's not easy when the phone keeps going "Ka-Ching!" and we know another order has been placed. We're learning now how to separate family from business and create a boundary that lets us tend to the other most important things in our lives like our kids and ourselves. And, we've realized that managing family first is the key to our success moving forward and we'll keep making adjustments to keep those priorities in place.

Another area we've improved in is learning to work smarter. We've always worked hard and poured our hearts into this business from the get-go, but hard work by itself is only one component of our success. We continually review our processes and figure ways to improve production while maintaining quality. That hasn't been easy. Sometimes an idea looks awesome on paper and we're excited to try it out -- only to find that we have to go back to the drawing board and start over. Mostly, we stick with what works and try to improve it. The few times we tried to "re-create the wheel" didn't work out as planned.

We've rolled out a few new products in already established lines and the response has been great. We're also receiving more custom orders in addition to folks buying "off the rack". That development has been wonderful because it allows us to interact on a more personal level with our customers, something we really enjoy. It's satisfying to know that someone likes something we've made enough to purchase it -- it's an entirely different experience to work with a customer to help create a special, one-of-a-kind item or gift and share the excitement they have.

One customer had a brilliant idea to use our Library Due Date Card shirt as a college graduation gift for a friend ... we "date stamped" an entry with her name and used the university as the author and her degree as the title of the book. We had so much fun creating this shirt for her and interacting as she helped finalize the final look and feel. When she finally received it, she was so excited she worried she wouldn't be able to wait until the graduation party to give it to her! She promised to snap a photo of her friend opening the gift and send it to us so we could share that moment. How cool is that?

Right now we're working on another project for a teacher who ordered the Notebook Paper Graphic baby onesie and burp cloth set. She is customizing lettering on it to use it as a way to announce her pregnancy to her co-workers and fellow teachers the last week of school! These kind of very personal and intimate interactions with our customers are exciting and we feel honored to be trusted and included in these special moments.

There have been many such experiences and we expect there will be many more. Knowing we have a quality product and that people appreciate it is enough for us to get excited and motivated to work every day. But being trusted to create lifetime memories for our customers is truly a great responsibility, and we will always approach this with respect and humility.

Right product, right place, right time. Add some hard work and excitement about what we do, willingness to adapt and change as needed, and above all, respect for our customers and their needs. It works. We are SO lucky.  : )

Kathryn and Jeff