Well, it is that time again – we have reached the end of another quarter (we’ve adjusted the dates slightly now that we have an accountant and an official ‘corporate year end’). This quarter ends on November 30th and our last (and first!) Quarterly Report was written on September 6th for the May 15th-August 15th quarter. We started selling our very first pattern on May 14th and our official corporate year end will be tomorrow! The last quarterly report was full of immense accomplishments that were all very visible to the reader – after all, we had released all three patterns that currently exist in the store in, roughly, the span of those three months! This quarter, while not so flashy from your perspective, has been even more full and included even more hurdles than the first. Unfortunately, most of these hurdles haven’t yet seen the light of day on the blog or the store…but, as we have been saying over and over again over the last three months, they will be showing up REALLY REALLY SOON!!!! Here is a summary of what we have learned and accomplished since August 15th:
On August 15th we were immersed in the midst of the Jedediah Shorts Sew Along. We finished it, got to see all your amazing versions of the shorts and pants during the contest held by Kollabora, and then moved on to new and exciting things. Some of these include:
- We ordered and promptly received 3000 tissue patterns which have been sitting patiently in their boxes ever since.
- We designed, ordered and received our chipboard business cards. They are so perfect – whenever we need to be reminded of what and who Thread Theory is, all we need to do is open up the desk drawer and have a look at those beauties to be re-invigorated with inspiration!
- We ordered and received the tiny little embroidered tags that will be included in every single pattern envelope that we sell. I have been sewing them into every project I make and love how versatile they are.
- We hired an accountant and took several important steps towards making Thread Theory a successful and organized business. We spend time every day working with the accounting software we purchased (Sage – it is a wonderful program and we highly recommend it to anyone who is currently deciding which accounting software they should buy!). Matt has been really diligent in learning how to operate this software and, seeing as tomorrow is our first fiscal year end, we will be finding out very shortly whether our accountant holds the same opinion as me in that Matt is an excellent businessman! This step in our business has yet again illustrated clearly to me how glad I am that Matt and I are working on this project as partners. While he is lost when it comes to writing sewing instructions and a lot of the more creative aspects of Thread Theory, I must admit that I am even more lost when it comes to organizing Thread Theory finances. I’m glad that I’ve been able to pick up the daily accounting procedures quickly when Matt teaches them to me, but without Matt teaching them I am afraid that our business records would likely have become a messy shoe-box of receipts before the year end was over!
- With our steadily growing sales and people’s increased awareness about the existence of our company, this quarter can be easily summed up as three months of learning how to provide customer service. We seem to have even more emails and social media waiting for us every morning. It has been a very difficult lesson to learn how to prioritize aspects of our lives the last couple months. For instance, since we work from home, it is hard to stop ourselves responding to customer emails in the morning before we’ve even poured the coffee and at night just before we climb into bed. We often press pause mid-movie when we hear the chime of a new email coming in. Clearly, this approach is NOT sustainable and we are working really hard to put some lifestyle boundaries in place!
- Another business lesson we have learned this quarter is that EVERYTHING that involves more people than the two of us (think printing, envelope design, shipping etc.) will take longer than we expect. This has been an even more difficult lesson than the last point because it is so tempting to set goals and provide time frames for ourselves and for our customers. As we have learned lately, this estimating will only lead to broken promises and disappointment. We’re trying to learn this lesson as quickly as possible and, now that we are very close to completing the last couple steps of the printed pattern development process for the first time, we have been able to make a realistic timeline to operate under and will (hopefully) no longer be constantly underestimating everything.
In the Works
While I can’t tell you about everything we have been working on in the last few months, here are some of the things we’ve blogged about:
- We will soon be selling paper patterns online and through retailers and the final portion of the packaging is being printed as we speak!
- In connection to this, we are still gathering stockists for our paper patterns and are extremely happy with the response we have received! For those of you who are inhibited by shipping prices when you try to purchase products from far across the world, not to worry, you will very likely have a brick and mortar store or at least a much closer online option from which you can purchase our patterns!
- The much anticipated Goldstream Peacoat (which we used to have displayed as ‘Coming Soon’ in our store and is now removed in light of the lessons we have learned regarding announcing things too soon), is still in the works and inches ever closer to being available as a PDF and printed pattern. December 6th marks another hurdle crossed in this process because I will be receiving all the feedback from test-sewers!
- Over the last three months a top-secret pattern has been designed, developed and tested by an enthusiastic group of sewers. We’ve been busily ordering supplies and designing the packaging for something a little different than your standard sewing pattern which we really look forward to releasing!
On the Blog
We have been slightly less ambitious with the blog over the last quarter (no new sew-alongs or instructional videos for instance!) but, nonetheless, were very proud when the number of email followers finally broke the 200 mark last week! A few of our most popular posts recently include:
- The Goldstream Peacoat Contest through which we collected your tailoring suggestions to create the Encyclopedia Peacoatica, an online resource that is sitting patiently ready for you when you begin sewing your Goldstream Peacoat!
- The photo gallery of my own version of the Newcastle Cardigan displaying that the pattern can be adapted for the female figure and (the most popular part) announcing the Rainy Day Sale during which the Newcastle pattern was discounted for a couple days. We haven’t hosted a sale since and, as you can see, haven’t done anything for Black Friday due to a discordance between this practice of mass-consumerism and our company values (:P) but, don’t worry, we will be hosting sales in the future once our paper patterns have been released!
- The display of the Alpine Collection inspiration and a call for pattern ideas. I was happily overwhelmed by your response to this post and enjoyed tallying all the comments to discover what items are the most popular amongst our blog readers. Your suggestions have been heard and, indeed, the second garment towards this collection has been designed is currently in the works with our pattern maker, thanks to your comments!
Sewing and Personal Life
In the last three months, Matt and I have had a lot of changes occur in our personal lives. We moved to the Comox Valley from Victoria (for those of you unfamiliar with Vancouver Island, this is three hours north of Victoria and is a much smaller community). We are happy to be in the valley because the move led to many new opportunities. First of all, rent prices are thankfully much lower so we moved into our first house with a yard and enough rooms to have both a sewing studio and an office just for Thread Theory!
We have plenty of closet space ready to store and display our paper patterns. We have been working away on projects geared towards creating the perfect Thread Theory sewing studio, including repainting these display closets and making the perfect ironing table.
Outside of Thread Theory, Matt has been thrilled to be accepted into the Comox Fire Department and has been busily training with them each week – an experience which he is greatly enjoying so far! I am excited to begin volunteering with the Courtenay Recreation Centre’s sewing program in the new year and, in the meantime, am volunteering with their Art Cards program. Also, I have taken up Zumba for fun since it is great way to loosen up the stiffness caused by sewing 8 hours a day for both work and Thread Theory! Have you tried Zumba? If you get stiff while sewing, how do you combat it?
Well, I must say, this quarterly report is MUCH longer than the last and I won’t blame you if you didn’t make it to the end! If you did though, thanks for listening to my reflections regarding the last three months and thank you, everyone, for your continued enthusiasm for our menswear sewing pattern company! We are proud to have made it through the struggles and lessons of the last three months and look forward to seeing the culmination of this hard work in the next quarter!