A raw and unfiltered status update from a small business owner. I didn't swear as I have no swear words left 🤣
How are you?
Please let us know. We genuinely want to hear how you are!
An update - How am I? How's business?
Both are very linked, as much as I try to separate the two. I can pour my energy into the business joyfully, or the business can suck it from me until I am an exhausted husk lying in an empty warehouse 🤣 My team will agree; last month, I was the latter. Covid has been a year of extremes. Prior to Covid, I remember feeling as if I had achieved the perfect balance - work was no longer 'work'.
Covid hits every business differently. We lost our studio and teacher custom but gained custom from people embarking on home practice. As a result, we were able to stay open for the entire year! 🙏🏼 But at the beginning of the pandemic, I remember saying, "We're going to have a sales boom, and then I am WORRIED long-term."✅ CORRECT!
We did have a sales boom, and I was able to pass this on and hire two brilliant people to help us keep on top of the additional orders and enquiries. My Dad has started making bolsters for us too (more on the way) and we have started making wooden blocks locally - we've rebranded too. So much fun, at a not very fun time.
And now we enter a period of uncertainty.
❎ Problem no. 1
Brexit. 51% of us voted for it, 49% didn't. But I think most agree that it was managed SO badly. We did not know what we were doing until days before it happened. Our customers overseas often pay duties on their imports from us. It used to take two minutes to pack an order to Ireland, it now takes up to fifteen minutes due to the paperwork. On a small scale, that does not seem like a lot, but you can quickly spend hours booking overseas shipments. This, along with the complex rule of origin tariffs, is why many online retailers stopped selling to the EU entirely. It is also harder to import from the EU, and if you manufacture products in the EU and sell them back to the EU from the UK (e.g we produce mats in Germany and sell in Ireland) you are penalised with tariffs. We've seen a drop in orders from the EU, and despite our best effort to communicate, customers are put off by the customs process.
❎ Problem no. 2
Shipping Costs. Brexit has affected this, pile on a pandemic and a cargo ship blocking the Suez Canal - and the system cannot recover. So prices jumped up by 6x on what they were this time last year. To give you an example, our freight for our next shipment would usually cost around $1600. This time it costs $9500. This is just one shipment.
❎ Problem no.3
Our suppliers' prices have gone up, as all raw materials seem to cost more. Our studio and teacher customers have lower-incomes, and we are squeezed in the middle.
❎ Problem no.4
DELAYS. All of our stock has been delayed by over two months, which means two months of lost business.
When you combine problems 1, 2, 3 and 4 - you'll see where I am going. Lost custom, rising product costs, thousands of pounds in additional shipping costs and no stock to sell. A recipe for…A husk lying in an empty warehouse. 🤣🤣🤣
If you run your own business, you will understand that most of the time it is GREAT. But at certain, rare moments, it can be hard to sleep. I have recently let a team member go to ensure we can continue to do what we do. There is nothing worse than letting a great member of staff go, the kind of person who says, "I'm going to do as much as I can in my final two weeks to make it easier for you when I'm gone." 🙏🏼
I look at the problems we are facing, with the full knowledge that we are the lucky ones. And that is what I find the most concerning. If it's like this for me - what about essential goods? Essential jobs? What about businesses that had to shut entirely throughout the pandemic? Prior to the pandemic, we were at such a positive place in regards to climate activism, and I am worried we will take our eyes off the ball.
And this is where YOU come in.
I get asked this a lot, 'Do you have any really annoying customers to deal with? I don't think I could do your job.'
I have to really trawl through my memories to find an 'annoying customer' because, quite honestly, replying to my emails is the equivalent to replying to my pen pals. The people I speak to are honest, understanding, grounded, funny, respectful and kind. You have all been so kind and so POSITIVE about what we are doing. So many of you have placed orders in advance and are waiting patiently for our products to arrive - without you this year - we would not be here.
Please share your experiences as a business/studio owner or a freelance teacher if you feel it would help let off some steam. We will understand! Listening to another's experience can distract you and teach you about your own problems - and we are listening to the yoga community and the small business community all of the time. If you have any tips or advice, we are open to that too!
We have most items back in stock - bolsters, cushions, straps, mat bags! New colours, new logo, and we have the new UK made products in the pipeline :) Yoga mats are currently limited to the ecoYoga mats (which are FANTASTIC), more options are on the way for mid-August.
Lots of Love and take care.
Abbie & Co.