By Megan Valero
It was the best of times…it was the worst of times. I think a lot of small businesses have this quote in their mind every time a year ends! 2021 has definitely been filled with serious highs and the corresponding lows. We’ve had amazing opportunities and customers come our way and have really felt our business grow. However, the lingering effects of Covid has shaped our year in ways we didn’t expect (or want lol) and will do so even into 2022.
Last year really feels like a game of two halves. I was certain at the beginning of 2021 that everything would be back to ‘normal’ again. It was just about having faith and waiting it out. Half way through the year I think we all had to come to terms with Coronavirus being a continued presence and the new normal.
Here’s a rundown of some major highlights of 2021. We couldn’t include everything but hope you enjoy the insight and the behind the scenes of the business.
Pigeon Wishes Buttons
What started as a tiny offshoot, to earn ‘pocket money’ for myself and Olimi has turned into one of the cornerstones of our business. 2021 was our first, full year of releasing our buttons. We had our classic buttons, which are the buttons that have been around since the beginning, plus released four independent collections (Think Pink, Spring Fling, Beaches and Halloween) and two collaboration collections (with Paige Joanna and Cut One Pair).
The response has been overwhelmingly amazing and I cannot imagine our business without our buttons now! Each collection has been such a joy to produce and put out into the world. A massive highlight this year was having a competition to help create and name a new button! The Aberystwyth button (thank you for the inspiration @JenJen.Bollands). It’s a massive pleasure and privilege that Pigeon Wishes can be a part of so many of your makes.
Paige Joanna X Pigeonwishes
Our first button collaboration! I am beyond thankful that Paige said yes to collaborating. Reaching out is always scary, the fear of rejection is real! However, as you can feel through her instagram, Paige is incredibly lovely, kind and open. It was a joy to work with her and I am so happy with our first collection together. Keep your eyes peeled for our next collaboration collection coming Spring 2022.
Pink and red forever it seems! By FAR our best selling fabric was our pink and red cotton seersucker. The pink and red combo shows no signs of abating and this colour combo is looking to still be incredibly popular into 2022. We have a new pink and red fabric ready to bring out for 2022 we are pretty sure you’ll love! Our cotton ginghams also proved to be popular. Gingham is always a classic but its popularity exploded last year. We were able to source some gingham in fun, unusual colourways, I especially loved the battenberg-esque gingham.
When it comes to our buttons, Painterly tops the charts continuously. Painterly is such a versatile button and there’s not much it doesn’t pair beautifully with. Our surprise hit was our Nightshade buttons, I thought it was a bit of a gamble bringing out a black button but it’s such a lovely twist to a basic we did anyway. It was a good call!
Opening a Fabric Retail Shop
As I’ve said Covid has really changed our business model. On a personal note, not being able to go back to China and see family has been incredibly difficult for Yuhao. On a business one that meant sourcing fabric has pretty much completely halted and the escalating shipping costs means our wholesale plans have to change due to the increased price point. In our original business plan we were ideally meant to visit China twice a year on sourcing trips. We wanted a business that allowed Yuhao (and Olimi) a chance to spend more time around family and flexibility when it came to taking long, frequent breaks. Which at the time was a pretty good plan! Now, not so much.
We still want to be closer to family and right now that means something completely different. We have a warehouse full and access to amazing fabric so retail is a part of the business we opened last year and this year will really lean into. This year we are also welcoming my mum to the team and while what’s happening next is for another blog, we are really hopeful and excited.
The Knitting and Stitching Show
What a massive highlight of the year!!! Exhibiting at The Knitting and Stitching show was not even remotely in our plans. Not just for this year but ever. Since the beginning of the year we had been anticipating attending the CHSI Stitches trade show. Originally scheduled for February, the date kept being pushed further and further back until it was cancelled for the year entirely in September. Around that time we were seeing more advertising for the K&S show and thought we might as well participate since we wanted to take part in a show this year. I cannot say how wonderful it was to meet customers, talk to makers again and just to spend whole days surrounded by other small craft businesses! Becoming an exhibitor was one of our best decisions ever and I really hope to participate in more shows in the future.
Cut One Pair X Pigeon Wishes
Our second collaboration of the year and our second ever. I have long admired Jenny and Louise’s style and creativity. They have such a distinct point of view and I knew that would translate beautifully into buttons. I wasn’t wrong. It was wonderful seeing them open their shop and doing an instagram challenge with them. And yes! There is plans for another collection!
Yuhao Working for the Business Full Time
By the end of 2020 we realised that it was time to make the leap. Yuhao was working full time and working on Pigeon Wishes whenever he could and I was spending the majority of my time looking after Olimi and working on Pigeon Wishes whenever I could. It was chaotic, sometimes unproductive but necessary when starting a small, bootstrap business. Luckily we were doing well enough that the situation was completely unsustainable and the only way to grow the business further was to have a full time worker. YuHao handed in his notice in October 2020 and by January 2021 we had to rely on Pigeon Wishes to be our sole source of income! Scary! I handle our social media so people mostly know me (Megan) however Yuhao is the true backbone of the business. The business wouldn’t be possible without him and I’m so thankful we can be part of this together. He’s camera shy and a bit conscious of his English (since it’s his second language) but I’m working on getting him to show his face on the socials more.
We Are Still Here!!!!
We are beyond grateful to still be open and running. Every single purchase, recommendation, mention and word of encouragement is greatly appreciated and keeps us running. Being able to add to our team has also been a highlight and blessing! Having Marie (Marie_StitchedUp) write our monthly newsletter, keep blog posts steadily come out when I’m busy and just having someone to bounce ideas off has helped shape what we’ve offered this year. No business can survive and expand without continuous support so a big thank you to everyone who has extended theirs.
That’s still a little up in the air! We’re still a relatively new business and even now every month comes with uncertainty. Ultimately we want to create products people love, use and inspire them to sew. 2022 holds new products, new button collections, new fabric and new collaborations!
Happy New Year and best wishes!