The week The Ever Co went from being a full time hobby to a full time job.
and also the week I had to personally make the decision to sink or swim.
Here's our story.
Thursday, August 16, 2018: We were prepared to launch a new line like every other limited edition line we'd launched for the previous 8 months since our little shop came to be.
Except this time, I could tell something was different. The feedback I was getting from our community at The Ever Co was CRAZY. I was gaining an abnormally high number of followers by the minute, and I could tell this was going to be a very successful Back to School / early fall launch.
But what I didn't know was how successful it would be.
We launched four designs and in total, 520 shirts were purchased in a combined total of 8 minutes.
You would probably think that we were poppin' bottles of champagne and celebrating huh?
You hear all the stories of shops having their "moment". Their claim to fame per say. And quite honestly, our tees went on a mini viral spree. The instagram algorithm which has worked against small business owners for soooo long was actually working for me and spreading our tees like wildfire. Honestly? Who knows how many shirts would've actually sold had the stocked inventory been "unlimited." We'll never know.
But my celebration never happened.
and honestly, it was quite the opposite.
From the moment we sold out of 520 shirts at 10:02 pm on Sunday August 19th, 2018, to the moment my tired wet eyes finally fell asleep the next morning at 2:00 a.m., I sat in my office and cried.
Not quite the success story I imagined.
But I wanna share why this hit me so hard, and try to explain a little about the business model we are aiming for here at The Ever Co.
My hope is that in sharing these words you will understand why we have limited quantities, why we more than likely will always have limited quantities and why my heart was so crushed to sell out so fast. You've watched this business go from dream on a paper napkin to full blown reality, and it's an honor to share this story with you.
On June 4th, 2018 I officially became a "stay at home mom."
Up until then, The Ever Co was truly just a hobby. I put in minimal time to the business, but in June I knew I needed to start pouring my heart and soul back into a community I was so eager and passionate to Found last December.
What I didn't realize was that our little Everly was going to be diagnosed with Austim this year and that there would be so many other huge life changes for our family that would be continuous competing requirements with my desire to jump in head first to this business.
It's all taken so much energy from me - more than I realized I had. And every single morning I open my eyes, thank the Lord for another day here on this Earth, place my feet on the ground and pray for energy and grace to get through another day living selflessly for so many people I love.
(side note: I wrote a post on Time Management Hacks if you're interested in reading it. It's saved me time and time again.)
So I've continued to just give as much as I could to this business while not jeopardizing time with my family. That's a choice I've made and will always make. The hubby and those two little girls will always always come first. I've heard too many stories of entrepreneurs losing their relationships because they poured too much of themselves into their businesses. Cause their hustle couldn't stop hustling. And I never want that to be the case for me. I think that's why I dream of doing something that the family can be involved in. One day, our little pumpkin patch or Christmas Tree farm dreams will come true.
In making that decision though, I've had to make some major business decisions as well. While Blake is still equally the co-founder of The Ever Co, he's also still an active duty army pilot, which means understandably he doesn't have nearly as much time to put into it as myself. He handles all of the day to day financial management, inventory input, buyer analytics, shipping material purchases, product photography, and actuary type risk management data analysis. (ha!)
I've had the honor and burden of single handedly running the other 80% of this business. You can call me a
- marketing strategist
- brand and content curator
- graphic designer
- social media manager
- customer service agent
- community outreach coordinator
- inventory manager
And this is what EVERY SINGLE small business owner has to decide when the moment comes.
When is it time to outsource some of these duties? When is it time to ask for help? When is it time to allow yourself to grow while being able to stay true to who you are and what your brand was intended to be.
So many decisions came pouring in this weekend. And while Blake was sleeping cause he had to be up early for work the next morning, I sat in my office and cried big ole alligator tears that poured straight onto the keyboard I'm typing this on right now.
How did we get here so fast? What am I supposed to do?
Quite honestly, this weekend was the first time since I started putting pen to paper a year ago to make this business happen that I wholeheartedly believed in myself. Believed that this could really be it! This could be my "job" for the rest of my life. The Ever Co could actually retire us.
the first time I truly believed I could swim.
But ironically, it was also the first weekend that I doubted everything I was doing. That I started questioning if I was in way too deep. If we were growing too fast and couldn't keep up.
the first time I truly believed I would sink.
It's crazy that your heart and mind can go to completely opposite ends of the spectrum in a moment like this. But every single possible thought of success and failure crossed through my mind and I felt like I was drowning in my own thoughts.
I sat on my phone and read nearly 300 messages from people asking why we sold out. why a pre-order didn't have unlimited stock. when we were gonna restock. why their carts had items in them and then the items sold out before they could check out. and the list goes on. I then read another 100 emails echoing the same thoughts.
i was sinking fast.
and I just said, "help." I feel defeated.
For the next hour at 10:00 pm they assured me that I was okay and they gave me the boost of confidence I so desperately needed in a moment I felt all alone. They continued to remind me that I was doing everything I could and didn't know this would happen.
But they both continued to say something that will resonate with me until the day The Ever Co no longer exists: You are doing ALL YOU CAN while not jeopardizing time with your babies and hubby.
And they were so so right. That was all I needed to hear to start swimming out of deep waters into shallow territory.
i started to swim again.
I hopped back on Instagram and carefully wrote some defensive messages about why our shop is the way it is, and instantly started receiving so many messages of encouragement. It was as though everyone knew (without knowing) that I was really having a hard time. The messages of encouragement flowed in and finally by 2 a.m. I was able to close my eyes and look forward to the joy He so graciously brings anew every morning.
So a night that I should've been celebrating, I felt defeated.
And here's why.
I am a people pleaser by nature. I've been that way for my entire life. I've gotten sooooo much better at it over the years (mostly since meeting Blake and being in the Army), but I'm still a pleaser by nature.
And it's not because I want to necessarily make everyone happy and make everyone love me. Quite honestly it's just cause when I care about something or someone, I care about them hard. I am so passionate about the things I love, and when they hurt, I hurt. When they worry, I worry. When they're disappointed, I'm disappointed. So I'm overly passionate about this community because I truly LOVE you all. I want to serve you, because you allow me to pursue my passion.
I wrote a blog post when I first started the blog called "Redefining profit" and the main theme was that I didn't care how much money we made. My promise was to always pursue the people.
So when all of the messages started pouring in of disappointment for selling out too fast, I felt like I let an entire community down. I felt so painfully defeated. The anxiety that I deal with daily started pouring in the floodgates and I was sinking. fast.
I started questioning how I could've done everything better instead of being down right grateful for 520 orders.
but joy comes in the morning.
And I woke up this morning feeling revived. Blake and I had a "business meeting" hahah! for about two hours and I placed another huge order of shirts to get us through fall.
i'm swimming again.
So here's the deal.
I don't think we're gonna change much about our business model. For now. I know that for this season that we're in - it's what's right for our family. I can't risk it for them.
Our shop was founded to inspire you to celebrate holidays and create family traditions with those you love most.
Our tees were created to inspire you to ACT. To get out and make memories with your loved ones.
Because each of our tees has a distinct purpose and correlates with a specific event or holiday, we release them in limited quantities because they are unique to a certain time of the year.
We did this to limit the amount of dead stock we would maintain. Our goal was to sell through 75% of our inventory every month so we wouldn't have to maintain a lot of stock on our shelves as we move to the next holiday. In doing this, it allows us to continuously bring you new trendy and hip designs for every season and occasion! So if you don't snag one one launch, you can hopefully get one at another.
Being that we are a Military family, this is CRITICAL for us. We cannot maintain a lot of stock because we are constantly moving. It's just not smart for us.
Additionally, we are a live debt free kinda family. Both in and out of the business. We pay for everything on our credit cards and ensure we are able to pay it off every month to build up our credit while maintaining no debt. Every month, we then put 40-50% of our paycheck into savings or investments. We've implemented these same principles into our business and are doing everything we can to remain debt free. In doing this, we are only using the money made from previous launches to reinvest into the company to fund future launches + more!
So the better our sales do, the more we can bring you in the future.
Because our shirts are made custom for our shop from scratch right here in the USA, our turnaround time is very long. From the moment I pay for an order, it takes 4-6 weeks to have the fabric cut, sewn, dyed, screen printed and sent back to me to send to you! I am extremely involved in the process and keep an eye on the timeline throughout it all to try and get the shirts as quickly as possible, but I also know that it's because we are getting the BEST quality organic cotton shirts and so every minute and day that we wait is worth it because of the quality.
However, with this timeline, that also means we have to "front" the costs of all tees. Even if we do a pre-order, we are paying for the tees up front because of the timeline. This is specifically why our pre-orders also have "limited stock". We will continue working to announce and release pre-orders sooner so that customers are actually able to front the costs for their own tees, but that will all be a work in progress. The end goal will be to have unlimited pre-order stocks.
So... for now we will continue releasing limited quantities at each launch and based on the response and time available we will do a "pre-order" sale shortly following the launch.
We just started all of this 8 months ago. We just ask for so much grace upon grace as we continue learning to swim over and navigate these new waters.
And if you can put your trust in me, I promise we will continue to learn and be the best Ever Co tribe leaders we can possibly be.
I pray that this blog post (which was probably way too long and way more than you wanted to know-story of my life) brings some light to our shop and how it came to be. I hope that it will answer questions in the future if we run into this again.
I also pray that I don't have a night like that again. I know that there will be so many sink or swim moments for our Ever Co journey, but I hope every time we find ourselves in that rip tide:
we're able to swim.
And lastly, If you're a small business owner and are reading this, are you sinking or swimming? I pray with every ounce of my being that this post gives you a little boost of encouragement to reevaluate your passion and your purpose. Don't over hustle the hustle. Keep reminding yourself why you started and who you serve.
there you will find shallow waters.
there you will swim.