Those who know me know I’m not really into New Year’s Resolutions. Introspection happens regularly — my husband might say too often — and my wheels of change are pretty well greased. I increased my running last April when weather permitted here in Colorado. A fitness class and paleo-friendly dietary changes began in November. So, no, I don’t wait until the calendar magically rolls over to make change.
Halfway through 2016, major change occurred. Ginormous disruption. In June I stepped away from my position as a digital IT director of a national fitness apparel retailer to launch our new business, Urban Cottage Style. Our Shopify site officially went live on August 1, but anyone who has done this knows that the germ of the idea and the work of bringing it to fruition begin long, long before.
So what a year 2016 has been! We’ve officially been live for five months, one holiday season is now behind us. Long enough to reflect on what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong. Long enough to have learned a lot. Long enough to realize that there is still so much to learn!
Self-reflection is especially likely if your son gifted you at Christmas with @designsponge Grace Bonney’s book, “In the Company of Women.” It’s chock full of real insights from a diverse group of fire-tested female entrepeneurs. The timing of this book's introduction to me was perfect — just as I’m trying to puzzle through what’s going well and what’s not, what I love about this work and what I don’t. Loud and clear, these entrepeneurs impart two timely gems: Be Patient. Own Your Difference.
I promised on Instagram a few days ago that I would turn my New Year's mental gymnastics into a 2017 plan of action. Here goes.
Patience, Partnerships, and Popups
In 2017 I will continue to practice patience. But I will also be agile. The ecommerce platform side of this work is a no-brainer for me, but I recognize the need for expertise around search optimization, web traffic analysis, and it would be very, very good to bring in another objective brain to assess overall marketing strategies. I knew going into this that I would make mistakes. I will allow myself the grace to learn from my missteps. And I'll keep working on patience. Lots of patience.
This will be a year of outreach and partnering, similar to the Boulder Bungalow project (shown above) completed with @emsaccophoto and @adueinteriors. (Yes, those are Urban Cottage Style pillows on that beautiful green chaise.) (Photo credit: @emsaccophoto) Look for new partnerships with compatible brands and designers, and more frequent shoutouts about products, designers, and experiences we love. We’ll also be looking for popup opportunities in and around Boulder and Denver. All the Insta double-taps in the world (and I do love them, thank you!) cannot replace the face-to-face experience when a customer holds our handmade vintage barkcloth pillows and we see that they "get" the texture, the craftsmanship, the vintage cool. We need these direct customer connections! If you’re looking to partner for promotions or popup opportunities, feel free to reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to check out our shop (urbancottagestyle.com) and Insta feed (@urbancottagestyle).
We are also looking carefully at ways to meaningfully expand our product line (yay!), and hope to make announcements about that very soon.
Vive La Difference!
A few months ago, Garance Dore interviewed Grace Bonney of Design Sponge and Anna Bond, the creative director and founder of Rifle Paper Co. (It's this interview that introduced me to Grace's new best-selling book.) The interview explored many topics (be sure to download the full podcast), including the challenges of working outside of recognized design hubs like New York and LA. Their comments resonated deeply with me. I'm here in beautiful but landlocked Boulder, Colorado, designing with midcentury fabrics that embrace texture, pattern and color. My Insta feed isn't all-white and minimalist (although I do love it!). My story is uniquely mine. I'm still working through how to be a teeny-tiny player in this design space from the middle of the country. Here's what I know for certain: Our focus on all-natural fabrics and high-quality workmanship will not change. And we'll continue our global reach to unearth one-of-a-kind midcentury fabrics and tabletop finds. (That means more travel, yay!)
We’ll also continue to celebrate the beautiful state of Colorado and the particularly diverse and active community of Boulder and its nearby towns. Our #boulderholidayinspo Instagram series received lots of positive feedback. The act of executing that series helped my eyes grow more keen and appreciative of this community’s individuality, diversity, beauty, history, and humor. Our love of where we live is a big part of our story. We will continue to celebrate it.
Be More Purposeful in Our Work
Without getting too heavy and political with y’all, we have to say that the recent election shocked us out of a long period of political negligence. We had grown lazy, confident that the freedoms others before us had fought to secure were, indeed, secure. We will continue to consciously message in ways that reflect inclusion and diversity. We will seek ways to connect our work with social causes that strengthen and support all members of the communities in which we live and work. We can't wait to share with you what shape that takes in the coming year.
What Would You Like to See in 2017?
If you're still reading this, thank you for sticking with us! We would love to hear your feedback (via the Comments section below) to this blog post, to our site, our Insta feed, or our products. As always, be kind but be vocal. ;-) You can also message me privately at email@example.com. Thank you so much! And now a peek at what's coming up in 2017!
We'll be very busy in 2017 pursuing a long list of design projects, both large and small, that we expect will provide inspiration to others along the way. These projects include wrangling bookcase and laundry room storage, painting my office to create a moody and comforting cocoon (we love the above wall color inspiration from Behr!), glamming up our boring guest bath a bit, installing a new San Francisco-inspired garden gate, replacing our aged roof (sounds boring but I'm hoping we can creatively mix up tile and metal), expanding our choice of fresh herbs in the garden, and finding an inspiring garden Buddha. I'm also determined to dust off my sleek-but-little-used Hurricane kayak and put it to restorative good use at least once a month come summer. Whew! And I haven't even mentioned the quiet ideas that I’ve been mulling but have not yet shared with anyone — like beamed ceilings, a custom range hood, and painting our kitchen cabinets.
We also have a major update planned in our living room (!!!!), with drop-dead-gorgeous inspiration coming from Meredith Heron Design (above, photo credit Donna Griffith) and from Elle Décor’s update of Emmy Rossum’s pied-a-terre, designed by Antonino Buzzetta (bellow, photo credit Joshua McHugh).
You'll definitely hear more about this project in the coming months, including peeks at the antique Persian rug I blew my budget on (no regrets). A vintage rolled-arm sofa that's been a part of my life for decades and sexy MCM chairs from chairish.com are waiting for final fabric selections and reupholstery work.
It's only January, but you can see that with all we have going on, this year is going to fly by. Let's get started!
All styling and photography by Urban Cottage Style, unless otherwise noted.