Spring has always felt like more of a fresh beginning to me than New Years day. I live in a wooded area in a part of the country where we see the seasons. Of all times of year, Spring is always the most rejuvenating, with the world around me literally waking up and starting over. However, in terms of the calendar, our new beginning comes In the middle of a cold, grey winter. I have to rely on parties and a change in numbers to signal that we've started anew.
If spring is a call to action for getting out in the world and starting new projects, then January 1st is the perfect time to stay cozy inside and put together a plan for the year ahead and reflect on the year that passed as well.
My, how Blueprints has grown this year! As somebody with no formal training in business, I feel very proud to have come this far. I've made mistakes and friends, good decisions and challenging discoveries. I've taken some risks, expanded my skill set, and connected with others.
Let's start with some real talk. Printing the first run of Cabin patterns was a big leap, not just mentally but financially. I am excited to report that earlier this year, I officially paid off the costs of printing Cabin (or, paid myself back, rather). This was definitely thanks to my beloved brick and mortar retailers and fabulous sites like Indiesew.
When I started this business, my plan was to start with some saved up seed money and over time create a sustainable business model. I'm so happy that I was able to recoup costs from Cabin reinvest to bring you another pattern...
In May of this year, I released A-Frame. A second pattern feels like a big milestone. I made some changes that I feel great about moving forward and also had a few unexpected hiccups. Though Cabin remains the more popular pattern, I have received a lot of great feedback about A-frame from happy sewists. I hope to share more of my own A-frames to show you her versatility!
In August, I released my 3rd pattern, Saltbox. This PDF pattern was part of a Sew Indie Month bundle sale along with 9 other indie patterns. The sale was incredibly successful and we were able to donate 20% of our sales to a charity called the Folk Art Alliance. Originally, I had planned to release Saltbox as a PDF only pattern, the idea being to intermittently release PDF patterns between bigger print pattern releases as a way to offset the costs of printing. But many of you requested printed versions of Saltbox, so I decided it's next on the list for print-ification! Once I can make it work financially, I hope to release Saltbox as a paper pattern in the new year, with a few improvements.
I've wanted to create a free pattern for you all for quite some time. I had been playing around with a townhouse looking bag - a more elaborate backpack sort of thing - but it wasn't working quite right. I decided to simplify it quite a bit to use as a gift bag for the holidays and make it available to you all gratis - enter the Townhouse bag! I love free patterns and I know they are the gateway to a lot of folks getting into sewing. (I have another free pattern slated for this summer...)
All in all, while Blueprints definitely had its ups and downs, I feel like this was a big year of growth and learning about business. I am looking forward to what the next year brings!
Here are my goals for Blueprints in 2016
I have several patterns in development currently and I can't wait to share them with you! The first one, if all goes according to plan, will be released in February for my birthday. I've actually been working on this pattern since I started Blueprints, but had to table it to focus on other things. I am also working on a coat pattern and another dress pattern.
I'm a teacher first and foremost. Originally, I got into making patterns as a way to bring my teaching style where I couldn't travel. I'm hoping to create many more tutorials, for both my patterns and general sewing techniques, so that the website can be a great resource.
More Classes & Workshops Near You
Along the same lines, I look forward to more opportunities to teach in new places around the country. I'll be teaching a workshop in April at Have Company, while doing a residency in the shop. I've also been speaking to shop owners in a few other places about potential classes. (If your shop is interested in hosting a workshop or you'd like to gather a group of friends together at a shop you love, drop me a line! I'd love to chat about it and see if we can make it happen!)
I am constantly working with my students on fit. Standard sizes in patterns often leave many needing at least some tweaks and adjustments but usually big alterations. I have plans to put together an evolving fit guide for all of my patterns, based on feedback from you! Keep an eye out for this if you've struggled with fit and want to learn more about it.
I also hope to expand my group of pattern testers this year to make sure that new patterns fit well on a range of different bodies, as well as further refining my sizing so that you get a better fit from your patterns!
Expanding into Other Products
I'm a creator by nature and get new ideas constantly and this year I'll try to bring those to fruition. I've always been a fan of kits and specialty supplies, so I'm hoping to bring you some special supplies for making up Blueprints patterns along with the patterns themselves. I'm not sure what this will look like yet, but I have many ideas swimming around in my head.
Some personal goals
This blog is as much for sharing personal thoughts as it is for sharing Blueprints news. Though I'm not sure how I feel about 'new years resolutions' in a traditional sense, I have some things I'd like to accomplish this year and I like the idea of making a list of them.
Hone my wardrobe
I've really been doing some soul searching about my wardrobe, especially recently. I realized that my color palette needed a change and that I needed to think more about the wearability of a project before starting it. I think I made some good progress in the last few months and I want to continue in this fashion. I still need to do some weeding and I also have to fill a few gaps, but I think I'm moving in the right direction. I hope to use this blog as a way to share my thoughts and progress.
Get more involved locally
This year I joined the local cultural council which has been interesting and a great way to learn about government and meet people in my small town. I would also love to teach classes in my barn now that it's better organized, has heat, and I've acquired a few more sewing machines. I hope to hold some workshops in the spring and look forward to telling you all about it. I also hope to work with the local prison this year to teach knitting, crochet, and other crafts to inmates, along with other types of craft-centric community outreach and activism.
Self work and self care
Something I haven't really shared on the blog is my continual process of managing anxiety and depression - an experience specific to me, but also something that I know affects many creative/small business people to varying degrees. This year I started addressing a lot of these things in a more proactive way and so far I feel good about where I'm headed. I've felt inspired by other bloggers and folks on instagram being up front about their mental health and connecting with others about it. I'm not much of a social media native (I prefer hanging out in person) but I'm happy to say I've been surprised by how positive and encouraging that world is so far, especially in regards to this topic.
One of my resolutions from last year was to continue being physically active, which definitely ticks the 'self care' box in a lot of ways (plus those endorphines really do give you a mood boost!). As far as the other two are concerned, while I did not teach a college class this year, I did grow my business by two patterns and start to use the blog as a platform for critical thinking & discussion. In a way, my resolutions from last year still apply to this year. I think these kinds of aspirations aren't finite, they're continuous and hopefully we build upon them each year.
I look forward to coming back to this list next year and reflecting on what went down! Do you have any New Years Aspirations? Anything you'd like to see from Blueprints?