An Indie Biz: 2012 Year in Review

Pierogi Picnic: Year in Review

2012 was quite the year for Pierogi Picnic!

Not only was it a hugely successful twelve months, it was also a time of discovery and change for both my business and me! 

In late 2011 I vowed to shift my online business model to highlight more on made-to-order items – and oh what a difference it made! By choosing to focus on custom order items my productivity and sales increased in totally unforeseen ways!

I was no longer making items in colors, sizes and variations that had to be individually photographed, uniquely listed, marketed, and then hopefully sold. Now, I could come up with a standard design with choice of color and size and make each piece on demand – saving me loads of time and energy! Plus – it filled a niche not strongly held by other handmade apparel vendors: Unique, eco-friendly, small batch, custom made clothing. Who wouldn’t love that – right?!

And people did! My Etsy shop instantly saw a boost in views and activity. My designs were being scooped up left and right for blog features and I had the confidence in knowing my customers would love their items, since each was made to fit their unique shape.  My two best-selling designs of the year are proof positive that it was a positive business shift. The “Green Girl” swimsuit design and “Sir Cycle” sweatshirts were the hottest sellers of the year and helped propel me toward making my sales goal in record time.

But 2012 wasn’t just the year of made-to-order merch – it’s also when I hunkered down and really evolved my website.

Despite the promise of social media being the savior of small businesses, I chose to focus instead on bringing the Pierogi Picnic site to life. Going beyond showcasing new designs and merchandise, it now offers a smorgasbord of topics and posts, from inspirations and green living tips to artist picks and behind-the-scenes looks at my process. Not only did the effort pay off with eye-catching, diversified content, fans also took notice. Views increased and subscriptions multiplied – encouraging me to keep up the work which in turn snowballed interest. It was a win-win.

The Pierogi Picnic website also gained a personal touch in 2012. A stressful move into a new apartment, directly following a car accident earlier in the year, facilitated a shift in content. A prescribed bed-rest and months of treatment forced me to slow down while giving me time to write, plan and share. Opening up about  my personal life in an intimate way gave readers the chance to see me and my business in a new light. After all, knowing the maker is what it’s all about, and what better way than to share both my successes and struggles.

Beyond the online world, the year was also filled with hands-on experimentation, networking and collaborations. I played with new techniques, like embroidery, stenciling and stamping, which brought new textures and feels to my designs.  I also got out of the studio more to mingle with other handmade artisans while patroning and supporting local small businesses. From handmade fairs and DIY workshops to art parties and canoodling with creatives – 2012 was the year for community and inspiration.

With so many lessons learned, I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store!

I’ll be sharing a handy-dandy business planning worksheet with you soon – to help you reflect on the past year. Because we all know that to go forward, it’s not a bad idea to look back at where we’ve been.

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