Looking backwards and forwards.New Year's Resolution 2023. - notebooks & honey

Looking backwards and forwards.New Year's Resolution 2023.

           It's still January, albeit, we are more than halfway through but that's okay because I can still squeeze in my annual "resolution" babble for this blog. By the way, you can also say "Happy New Year" to anyone you haven't seen yet since the prior year, this is applicable all throughout the month of January.  Seriously, look it up. Anyhoo, back to why I'm here ... You know I love this time of the year, a fresh start. Blank slate, fresh tube of toothpaste. I love the feeling of wrapping things up and starting something new, even if it's just a reboot.   This is my 5th New Year's / January / Beginning of the Year post on this blog and you know by now that this is where I pour out my thoughts and wishes for the rest of the year.  I know planning or writing stuff down isn't  everyone's bag, I get it, but I think it's more just taking the time at the beginning of a new year or project or phase of life to reflect. That's my favorite part. Not so much the planning and you must do this or that, but the reflection of the past year and years cumulatively. The point, for me, is that you make adjustments bit by bit and that's how you best get through this journey called life, it's not the necessarily the end result.  You make a framework to continue to do what really works, make adjustments with the view of improving, embrace new experiences and/or discard what is negative or counterproductive.   I definitely need this ritual every  year because it grounds me and helps me to be the person that I want to be. Writing all this down helps me keep track of my goals and frankly, putting it "on paper" makes me accountable for my actions. Plus, I'm a list person, so there. I can make and cross off lists all day long. And, believe me, I do.  Of course I have a lot of "resolutions" in my personal life, I don't feel that I need to share them here necessarily but for fun, one of them is to stretch for five minutes every morning.  And so far so good! I actually look forward to my stretching time, it's a great way to start they day in addition to being good for your body and soul. I digress ... As  a small business owner and momtrepreneur I have various ones for Notebooks & Honey business as well. This year, for the business, my goal word is REFRESH.  I think what that means to me is to simplify things, make things more streamlined, take away the fluff or access, make the most out of my time and not worrying about the rest.
           Before I get into what this "refresh" looks like to me, I want to take the time to reflect on the timeline of Notebooks & Honey. Notebooks & Honey started at the very end of 2017, so in theory, Notebooks & Honey has been around for a full five years now. Wow. I can't believe it, in fact, I lost track and just now did the math in order to write this post. Since the idea of making this bag has been around way longer than that, to me, it seems way longer than those five years to be honest with you. With that being said, I don't know where the future holds for Notebooks & Honey.  Even though I love routine and predictability to some extent, I like a change up every now and again. A refresh if you will ... I'm  thinking that Notebooks & Honey will be up for some major changes in the upcoming year or so; I have the clean even number of 2025 in my horizon. That is all I know. This is also when the notorious seven year itch will approach.  Right now, I'm comfortable, have learned a lot from the past years but I feel that I still have so much more to accomplish. Will Notebooks & Honey shut down completely? I don't think so. Will there be a major evolution? I hope so. What is my goal for Notebooks & Honey? I don't know really. I thought I knew, but that has changed as my experiences and priorities have changed. Such is life.  I will keep you posted on this small business journey but in the meantime, I want to sum up and encapsulate what we have achieved and what I like about being a small business owner.
The Notebooks and Honey bags from the collection.
  • Started with 3 bag colors ( black / grey / mauve )  and added two more in 2019 (olive) and 2021 (navy) .  Will there be another color? I think not. I'm perfectly happy with the tote bag colors we have now and they go really well together.
  • Started a blog on 2020, not knowing that Covid was about to hit and that I would be starting my new blogging adventure and homeschooling little kids at the same time. I have a love/hate relationship with blogging. I love the result and I know it's good for SEO blah blah blah but it's not natural for me to write, so I struggle with the motivation of the blogs.  I've experimented with a monthly and then quarterly blogging timeline and now have settled on the comfortable compromise of blogging every other month.
  • I also started the Curated Collection in 2020.  Literally, I placed my first order in February, not knowing that the world was seemingly coming to an end the next month. The idea is to sell nicely curated stuff to go IN the bags and I'm happy that the items from this store have turned over a few times over.  I would love to eventually make this section have a bigger presence on the shop site because I love curating items almost as much as I enjoyed being a designer of this ultimate modern tote bag.
  • Started Wholesale in late 2021/early 2022 but I have to admit that this part is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I'm on several wholesale market platforms and have researched and reached out to many boutiques, but it's not easy.  I feel like this may not be the way to go for me, at least not as the bread and butter of the business. I research other small brands and how they mix retail and wholesale together and I think what will work best for me is to keep a strong online presence and if a boutique really wants to reach out to me, well I will make that easy for them but I don't want to stress out about it.  I'm happy to do wholesale but refuse to lose sleep over it.
  • Over the past couple of years, I've started doing some markets/fairs and as I mentioned in a previous post, I actually don't mind getting out there and being seen live and in person and will continue to do more of these over the next years.   I love seeing people's reactions to the bags!  Since Notebooks & Honey is an e-commerce business, it's rare that I get real time real life feedback.
  • Lastly, I really enjoy being part of the makers and #shopsmall community. It's great to be part of a group that focuses on carefully crafted goods, small batch items made with genuine thought and care when developing and making a product.  I truly feel that this community is only getting bigger, better and stronger and I want to be there to ride the wave.
Samples from the Curated Collection.
Some items in the Curated Collection shop 
So the actual things on the TO DO list, going back to the idea of REFRESH.
  • Continue to focus more and better understand digital marketing and SEO because this is a digital company and the online retail portion of the business is more successful than my attempt at a massive wholesale push. I really feel strongly that there is nothing that I can't manage myself, even though there are so many agencies and resources out there that are meant to help. However, as a small company, I feel that at some point you have to put in the man power yourself in order to really know the ins and outs of the business as well as, frankly, save on cost.
  • I cut out stuff that did not "bring me joy" and was not worth my time and effort, I would rather direct it elsewhere and one of those things is the Newsletter. I know I'm supposed to have email marketing as a part of my strategy and I did send out Newsletters about every month or so, but it did not bring me much reward.  For me, it seemed to be more of a hassle.  Unless I really enjoy it, I don't ever want to feel that I'm wasting my time and therefore feel bitterness towards the process. It's better that I let it go. 
  • Continue to be open to new ideas or approaches to marketing and if it doesn't work out, it's okay, move on! I often need to step outside of my comfort zone and be more open to creative ways to get my brand out there.  I'm always pondering about new things to do, so it seems that this agenda item is always on my peripheral, but hey, there is always new stuff popping up. For instance, the concept of "dropshipping" and "influencers" and "tik tok"  hardly even existed five years ago. I can pick and choose, as long as I'm open minded, I'm alright. And if it doesn't work or I hate it ... bye bye. Next! 
  • This is next one is a fun one ... work at coffeeshops more. One of the first blog posts I wrote about was regarding my obsession with coffeeshops.  With Covid, I took a hiatus but I still really enjoy the coffeeshop buzz and exploring Atlanta through all the new lunch places or coffeeshops during the day.  And since I'm on my laptop most of the time anyway, it's so easy to do this. Plus, I want to take the opportunity to incorporate more aspects of travel and Atlanta into my blogs. Essentially, I want to take advantage of my flexibility to have a change of scenario, or physical and mental refresh,  if I choose to do so!
  • Does the store need a rebrand? New website? New marketing materials? - YES to all. I am very excited about all of these because I love designing and implementing.
    • UPDATE: New website is done. Oh, just did that lookey there. You are reading this from the newly refreshed website.
            Looking back, I feel that I have already evolved the brand a lot over the years and I appreciate that there are still more avenues to explore. And if I don't feel that it's the right direction, then I'll just take another path. How refreshing ... 
    And that's a wrap for this post, you'll hear more from me in March and if I haven't see you in 2023 yet ... HAPPY NEW YEAR!