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December 12, 2018 6 Comments
As the craziness of Christmas orders start to wind down a bit, I wanted to take some time and reflect on this past year, my official year numero dos of being a full-time creative. I know I’m about to move into 2019 with bang (The Biz Bash Podcast launches January 1, and we’re kicking it off with a fun Instagram challenge all about 2019 goals!), so I think 2018 deserves a little time in the spotlight.
At the beginning of 2018, I chose my word of the year as depth (you can read more about that here!), and I wanted this year to be all about digging deep into that sweet spot of where I shine AND what sustains me and pruning away distractions. I prayed for this year to be a season of growth for my marriage, and I prayed for me to go deep instead of wide when it came to relationships, my faith and my business decisions. God challenged me this year with taking on way more than I thought I could handle in my biz and showing me just how much I need to rely on him for every. single.thing. while giving me the most profitable year ever (yep, this exceeds my corporate job too) and just totally blessing mine and Alex’s marriage. I don’t know what it is about year three of being married, but we just have so much dang fun!
Anyway, this year has been full of tiny little victories and bucket-list accomplishments, and I am equally grateful for all of them. I’m especially thankful for all of you because your support is what sparks all of this, and HOLY MOLY, it is overwhelming to hear back from y’all. Thank you again for just being a part of my journey.
Okay before I get all mushy, let’s dive in to the 2018 year in review, shall we? (This includes both business stuff and personal stuff because I am the artist, and I do what I want.)
I panicked for pretty much the first 3 weeks of the year because wedding inquiries were so super slow. (It turned out jussst fine; trust your instincts when it comes to the “wedding season” in your industry.) Alex flew me out to Las Vegas to meet him for his work conference, and we took an amazing road trip from Vegas to the Grand Canyon. We experienced the Grand Canyon in almost a foot of snow with zero visibility, but you know what, God is good, and I am stubborn, so we waited until the fog cleared to get a quick glimpse at one of my bucket-list destinations!
I released a new Valentine’s Day collection that was inspired by real-life couples with real-life love stories. All the designs celebrated adorable quotes and phrases with real ways y’all say “I love you.” It was SO fun to put this together, and I read so many sweet submissions that had me feelin’ like a true romantic.
Whew, March was a doozy. In March, we spent a week hitting the slopes in Utah, and the day we got back, we closed on our new house. (We like to keep things extreme.) A new house meant the Cami Monet studio literally tripled (almost quadrupled) in size, and it was perfect timing too, as my biz was growing much faster on the product side, and I needed space. Lots of it. (That's my studio there on the left at our new home!)
I also miraculously created an invitation suite in ONE WEEK in the middle of moving because I am Wonder Woman. (And because of #coffee).
I hosted a watercolor florals workshop at Paper Goat Post and released my 2018 print for the Walk for Life by Choices Women’s Clinic. 100% of the proceeds from this print went to saving lives and empowering women, and I raised $7,380. I also volunteered to face paint at the event, and while it was an absolute BLAST, I have mad respect for all of you face painters because things get tricky when the canvas is moving.
This is what we call a “buckle-down month” because there was LOTS of painting for custom invitations and summer weddings. I also starting offering custom crests to everyone, not just invitation clients, which has been such a fun way to serve my fab clients who want some customization, but not the whole shebang. I also sent out my first invitations with vellum envelopes and got reposted on Oh So Beautiful Paper, which might not seem like a huge deal but in my mind it was like winning an Oscar.
I attended my 10 year high school reunion (it was hosted at my family's venue, Morning Glory Farm!), and I even created the invitations, which was really rewarding for me! Alex and I celebrated 3 years of being married, and I am still confidently say that I married the best guy in the whole world. <3 Alex bought a Camaro, and we flew to Long Island, NY to pick it up and drive it home, so we got another road trip under our belts this year. We explored Washington D.C., and Alex’s alter-ego (Camaro Steve) was born. Don’t ask; it’s a long story haha. I also invested back into my business by enrolling in Katie Hunt’s Paper Camp E-Course to take my wholesale game to the next level (spoiler alert: it worked!)
I checked off another bucket-list item for me: hosting a workshop at my family’s farm, Morning Glory Farm. This was extra special because my dad taught the class with me, and my mom got to be a student! I had lots of other family members there, as well as new friends, and honestly, it was such a dream to teach at my childhood home. My bestie Elisabeth also came to the workshop, and we had the best summer weekend enjoying the farm! As soon as I arrived back in Orlando, I launched my new website with all kinds of fancy-schmancy updates to help me switch gears a bit in my business. I moved from Squarespace to Shopify (you can get a 14-day free trial with this link!) because it offered a more robust product platform and inventory management, but I would recommend both if you’re starting fresh. We wrapped up July with a whitewater rafting trip for Alex’s birthday, and if this all goes south, you can find me and Alex as river guides on the Ocoee.
Such a fun month! I mailed out invitations for three weddings, and Elisabeth and I hosted the #idealprojectchallenge with Biz Birthday Bash to help creative biz owners get back to basics and rekindle the spark with creating what they love! It was so fun to see everyone’s projects, and we even gave away a couple scholarships to our 2018 Biz Birthday Bash. I also released two new product offerings: enamel pins (I didn’t know if these would sell) and my Intro to Watercolor Florals booklet (I totally knew these would sell well.) Enamel pins were completely new territory for me, and I spend a lot of time researching different vendors before finding the perfect fit, and I am so grateful that these little cuties have been a best seller for me! Etsy is a great market for enamel pins, and my paint palette and magnolia pin have been mailed all over the world.
This month is pretty much dedicated to one thing: Biz Birthday Bash, a resource that ElisaAnne Calligraphy and I created to help make biz strategy a piece of cake for ambitious artists. We hosted 3 live webinars, and to say it was a huge success is an understatement. We were so humbled by the feedback we got from our fellow creative biz owners who said that this info literally changed the paths for their business. We now have these awesome videos and PDF Party Favors (basically everything you need for your creative biz from pricing to marketing) available right here so go ahead and treat yo’self for Christmas. I also leaned into developing the backend of my product systems with inventory management and organizing products with SKUs. The wholesale aspect of my business started taking off, and I opened 18 new accounts with stockists all over the US. The month of September also included traveling to Pawley’s Island for our good friends’ wedding (yay Andrew and Katelyn!!) and then a weekend visit to New York City, where I got to visit one of the venues I painted for an engagement party, and a grand tour of all the pretty places in New Jersey, where my in-laws and hubby are from.
Elisabeth and I met in Savannah for literally 24 hours to get some cutie patootie photos for Biz Birthday Bash. We needed a brand refresh, and this was the perfect step! We hired Megan the Photographer, and we were honestly blown away by her talent. Highly recommend! I also hit 10k Instagram followers, which was pretty exciting mostly because I was FINALLY able to have the ‘swipe up’ feature on Instagram. I also mailed out three map save the dates, which I think is pretty indicative of the work I want to continue to do in 2019. (Map lovers, get at me.) Speaking of maps, I also did my very first love story map, and this project was challenging, but man, I loved how it turned out!
I released the 2018 Christmas Collection, which piggybacked off the 2017 collection of Christmas Crests. I look forward to creating this every year, and I *think* I already have all my pun ideas ready for next year, thanks to some help from Elisabeth! Alex and I went to Birmingham with some good friends for our annual race weekend at Barber Motorsports Park. This time, Elisabeth drove over to hang out for the day, and my parents came down for Tennessee! And then we moseyed our way to Gatlinburg, TN for Thanksgiving with my family aka the Tennessee Carb Fest. (I swear I gain 7 pounds every time I go home.) During this time, I also hired my first VA (a small job, but for me this is huge) as a baby step to hopefully hiring someone (!!!) in 2019. The feeling of having someone working on my business while I was out of the office is addicting. I’m ready to start scaling more in 2019, and I know this looks like adding an extra set of hands. I hit six-figures in my business for this year, and while they may be a large number for some and small potatoes to others, this was a goal I’ve always had for this little biz of mine, so to hit it and then exceed it in my second year of being full-time is just MINDBLOWING to me.
I panic-painted (JK, they are all painted with love) all my pet portrait orders to get them out in time for Christmas (still one to go!) and shipped out hundreds of orders.
There will be lots of cookie making and naps in my future until January 1 when THE BIZ BASH PODCAST LAUNCHES! EEP! I am still reflecting on this year and what the coming year will hold for my business. (And trying to be all business-y and look at my numbers. Right now, the only one I’ve looked at is revenue, and I saw a 39% increase this year!! I am very proud of that and very thankful to God for giving me opportunities to grow and be profitable.) I always pick a word of the year, and I have some that seem to keep popping up, but I haven’t decided quite yet. But I’ll let y’all know, don’t ya worry.
Here’s to another year of lived-in moments!
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