2016 is wrapping up in about two weeks, and all too soon 2017 will be upon us. I want to use this last Full Moon, to reflect upon the events of the year in my brand/business; to see how far I’ve come; to explore what I’ve learned, what I’ve been fortunate enough to experience; and, where I hope to go in 2017.
Top 5 Achievements in 2016
One of my biggest weaknesses is that I often don’t take the time to celebrate my wins. There’s definitely a line between being humble and not too proud, but not taking the time to say, “Hey, I did this awesome thing that I ‘should’ be proud of,” can lead to burnout later down the road. So I’m going to take the time to name, and list, my top 5 achievements of 2016.
1. Launching the viral 5 Shawls, 5 Days Challenge
This one happened closer to the beginning of the year. When I was writing up my e-book, Forming Shawls and Their Charts, in order to help with the marketing, and to get the word out about the book, I wanted to host a fun, free, yet educational challenge. I came up with the idea of knitting mini prototypes of the shawls, selecting 5 common ones, but I was really nervous about how the community would view it. It was such an easy challenge? Mini-shawls? Who would want to do that? But I decided to go for it anyway, just to see the feedback, and the reaction. It was so much more overwhelmingly positive than I expected. By the time the challenge started, over 1,000 participants had signed-up: from new knitters, to wanna-be shawl knitters, even shawl designers. By the end of the challenge, the hashtag #5shawls5days was trending on IG from the sheer number of engaged users. In fact, that’s how most people in the fiber industry know me, as the “5 Shawls, 5 Days” gal. The e-book launch was a success too, and I know that people are waiting for a round three (hint, it’s coming up in January!).
2. Launching my e-course, SWATCH Studio
This is a HUGE one. I spent months developing my signature e-course, SWATCH Studio: a course that focuses on guiding aspiring knitwear designers through the motions of designing, knitting, writing, and publishing their own knitwear designs on Ravelry. I also ran a special challenge to kick-off this course’s launch, the Initiate Knit Design Challenge, that gave participants a ten-day intensive workshop to challenge them to go through the first few steps of knitwear design, in just 10 days. I ran the challenge twice, and had over 120 students enrolled in the course. I’ll be relaunching the course next year, in February or March.
3. Launching the Fiber Muse Community
For the longest time, the Aroha Knits brand was about me, which is important, as small brands like mine are a reflection of the person running it. However, it felt unbalanced, and during the last few months of 2016, I have figured out why. I wasn’t focusing on an equally important aspect—my followers (aka, you!). I took a special program called Master Brand, which helps small businesses like mine find their unique voice, their unique style, basically their “uniqueness” (which is super important to find when you’re in a crowded market). It really helped me discover who I was, what I wanted to bring to the fiber community, and what impact I wanted to have, but I was struggling to discover for whom I was doing this. So, on the second run of Master Brand, along with Chelsea Fitch’s, Fiber Boss College course, I went in deep on discovering who my ideal client is; who would benefit the most from my special gifts and talents; and for whom I would want to create. And the result? The Fiber Muse. I officially relaunched Aroha Knits at the beginning of the month, with my free Makariri Shawl pattern, along with the Discovery Quiz, so that Fiber Muses can unveil what their special type of magic is—are you a Dreamer, Seeker, Giver or Mystic?
When I figured out this crucial element, it was like the sky cleared and birds came tweeting down from the heavens to place a flower crown upon my head; it was a truly magical experience, from which I’m still riding the new found inspiration and motivation. 2017 won't even know what hit it, from all the new launches and offerings I plan on unveiling.
4. Publishing my 50th pattern
Nothing much to say about this one except, yay! I started designing in April 2014, but went full force in January 2015. Two years later, it’s amazing how far I’ve come! Thank you for coming along on this journey with me!
5. Hitting 20k IG followers
I’m aiming for 24k before 2017, but hitting 20k was a huge milestone for me. When I was living in Ubuyama, I didn’t have a local knitting community, or any community. I was also newly-married, couldn’t work, couldn’t drive, was living in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country. It was about the same time that I decided to go from designing as a hobby, to a full-time career, so I went in hard on social media, Instagram especially. I taught myself the ins-and-outs of the app, practiced taking better photos, made connections in the industry, built a community, and since then, have been able to average at about 1,000 new followers per month. I plan on creating an e-course about growing an IG following, in 2017, but haven’t gotten around to that. Yet.
What 2017 Holds…
The word that I’ve chosen for 2017 is “collaboration”. The word I had for 2016 was “courage,” which was definitely very fitting, as launching my new offerings, and growing my brand required lots of bravery, and getting over my fears.
I’ve chosen collaboration, because I want to learn how to work better, and more efficiently with others in the industry. I want to use my platform to shine a light on other small brands, those who are starting out or growing, as I know the hard work that goes into doing so. However, I’m not always the most organized or streamlined, so this year I want to be more professional, official, and organized about such collaborations. It’s just really simple things too: like setting proper deadlines, keeping in good communication, preparing for launches a couple weeks in advance, not the day of, etc. Hopefully, it’ll be a good growth mechanism, for both parties involved.
To start off, I’ve set up several methods of collaboration: design commissions, KAL/challenge sponsorships, monthly Patreon giveaway sponsorships. To learn more about each program, click the links below:
Also in 2017, I’ll be kicking off a new podcast series—the Yarn Alchemist Spotlight Series—where I’ll be interviewing some of my students from SWATCH Studio, asking them to share their stories, experiences, achievements, and struggles, about being an aspiring knitwear designer.
Whew, that was a LONG post, but seeing that it’s the end of the year, it’s fitting. I would like to hear your top 5 (or 3, if that’s too much!) experiences of 2016, as well as your “word” for 2017.