Transparency Report 2022

In the early years of 704 Shop, I would post a "growth report" highlighting our growth, successes, and failures over the course of the previous year as the first newsletter in a new year. I'm going to use this portion of our newsletter to do a version of that however with a bit more vulnerability and emotion versus the numbers based report from years past so I'm calling it our "Transparency Report."
Before we go a lot further into things, I think it's important to note that I've spent the last few years in therapy and really working to improve myself. Shannon inspired me to give it a try after I saw how much it was helping her and us as a couple. For years I thought that therapy was just for people that "had something wrong with them," because of the way therapy was positioned and marketing as I was growing up but I couldn't have been more incorrect. I would recommend therapy to each and every person regardless of circumstance for what that's worth. Without therapy, I wouldn't be able to have these awarenesses to share. 
I'll rip the band-aid off the hardest part, for the first time since I've been running 704 Shop full-time, our company lost money. That's a very difficult sentence for me to write and share, mainly because of my own ego. For a couple of years now, and without realizing it, I've had my own personal identity and successes or failures wrapped up entirely with how well 704 Shop as a business performs. My mood can be directly related to how well a sales day is in that if we have a good sales day, my mood is super happy. But if the opposite happens and we have a bad sales day, my mood is completely terrible. Neither of those scenarios are healthy from a mental state nor is that a sustainable way of being. Things change from day to day and just because one day is terrible doesn't mean the next day won't make up for it by leaps and bounds. Over the course of many years, I've exhausted myself and as an end result confused myself about the direction and well being of both myself and 704 Shop as a business. 
I spent most of December in a pretty legit depression for a few different reasons but mostly because I worked three times harder and made far less money. Some of those circumstances were out of my control but I also made several mistakes that I should have seen coming. After the first week of December I know we weren't going to be profitable, but I still didnt expect to have the lowest December revenue since we opened our store in 2017. I spent the last two weeks processing and working on accepting these failures. However, some of the biggest lessons I've ever learned have come from failures and 2022 was full of learning lessons.
By now, you guys know I love a good list and I started to list out all of my failures but I decided against that because you don't have all day to read this newsletter. Instead, I'll share just a few and how that will impact how we're moving forward in 2023. 
My biggest failure was putting too much emphasis on our Process™ Collection and expecting that it would have the same results as the products that we've been releasing for many years. In a lot of ways our entire business is one giant experiment and our Process™ Collection is the biggest experiment of them all. I got tunnel vision and really wanted to force feed superior quality over the products that have done and sold well for years. I still believe whole heartedly that our Process™ Collection is lightyears better than most products in the marketplace but I did our other products a disservice by talking down about them and devaluing their worth or even existence. There's absolutely nothing wrong with liking a shirt that came from a blank supplier and we would never source a product from any supplier that we didn't feel was quality to begin with. Going forward, our Process™ Collection will be more seasonally based. Instead of releasing items from our Process™ line in a trickle out schedule, we are going to try to release those items as complete collections all at once. I want to be even more intentional about our Process™ Collection and make them far more cohesive. That also means that the timeline between those types of collections will be longer, but we hope that it will make them more special as well. 
My intention was never to completely remove the products that built our brand originally, but I got lost trying to juggle too many different projects. I've always used my personal taste as a starting point for the types of products we release but I put too much emphasis on the more premium side of things. Going forward, we want to ensure we offer a multitude of price ranges. Just because I have all the shirts I will ever need that say the word "Charlotte" on it, doesn't mean that other people don't desire or need us to offer it. It also doesn't mean that a blended fabric that is super soft doesn't have its place and use because I personally feel that cotton is far more superior. In 2023, you'll see a more well rounded product offering.
Lastly, our release schedule is going to change this year. The amount of products we release is exceeding the demand. Sure, it's really cool to say that we release new products every week however, I've spent years forcing myself to follow this made up schedule that we have to release a new product every week and it's absolutely unsustainable and exhausting. Honestly, I'm not sure how we've done it for going on 7 years with the small team we have. It's something I made up arbitrarily to help put some type of structure around our business because releasing new products keeps things fresh, new, and interesting - but forcing a release for the sake of having a release every week is counterproductive to quality over quantity. I am not entirely sure I've figured out a release cycle for this year but I do know that we rushed through far too many releases last year before we were really ready. 
2022 wasn't without many successes for us and it would be a failure not to acknowledge them. We had hugely successful collaborations, partnerships, collections, and product launches. We pushed the needle, we created products that didn't exist, and we continue to give back to multiple charities and non-profits that are vital to our community. We more than doubled our B2B side of the business and we created some of the best products we've ever produced.

The biggest success of all is that 2023 marks our 10th year in business. An entire decade. Wow. Thanks for hanging in there with us for all these years. We're nothing without you.
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