December 23, 2020
Wow, what a year. As I sit here, just before Christmas writing this from our offices in Coventry with orders still going out the door, feeling uplifted, proud, excited but also exhausted and overwhelmed for what 2020 has thrown at us.
Firstly I want to say a massive thank you to all of you guys. The stitchers worldwide who have not only bought a kit or needle minder from us but for the ongoing support across social media and at events. For your comments, shares and kind messages. I often try and explain the Caterpillar Cross Stitch community to friends and I can only describe it as a family and like no other. This gang goes beyond thread and fabric as we got through this year together with random acts of kindness, coming together to raise money for charity and for daily check ins and friendship.
I want to say a massive thanks to our team here, our suppliers and collaborators. Bethany, Samm, Lucy, Kenza, Roksana, Lauren, Sue, Hannah, Carla, Amy and Tim who all worked tirelessly this past year to keep the wheels turning, help with customer service, create your kits and get them shipped on time. Thanks for the patience, Schitt's Creek quotes and never ending Instagram Reels!
At the end of each year, I like to take a moment to look back on the previous 12 months and never more so than after this rollercoaster of a year in which Caterpillar Cross Stitch turned 5 years old!
This year saw the launch and hosting of three mystery stitch-a-long projects; Bloom & Grow in January, Positivity Rules in May and Hello Deer in August. Pre-order also opened for the new January 2021 SAL, Made to Create! Thousands of you now join us for our stitch-a-longs from over 15 countries globally - you guys rock! Positivity Rules was actually planned out and designed back in December 2019... who would have known we'd all be staying at home needing these positive messages over the coming months!
Over the past year, we've donated over £3,000 to charities including the NHS Charities Together, Mind (the mental health charity), WIRES and the Australian bushfires relief, BLM and the Stephen Lawrence Trust and Cancer Research UK. We surprised NHS workers, who had been nominated by a loved one, with a free kit and accessories over the summer. Over 2020, we had eight Stitchers of the Month who all submitted wonderful entries and who received a £20 e-gift voucher each. There have been so many generous acts of kindness where someone in our Facebook group requests to send a gift anonymously to someone who deserves it.
During our first lockdown of 2020, I hosted weekly Friday night Stitch with Sally live events on Facebook which were so much fun! Many a pink gin and Aspall's cider were consumed and it was lovely to get to know you all a bit better. In November 2020 we managed to host some virtual Stitching Social events following the news that we couldn't meet in person and that the previous Kenilworth venue (Farthing Gallery workshop) had closed down. Thank you to those who joined me and made those events so special as we stitched the citrus fruit themed 'All the Zest' and bee themed 'Oh Beehive!'
At the start of 2020 it became very apparent that I couldn't continue working from home. The study and spare bedroom were both full of stock and it was slowly taking over the entire house! I started looking for premises locally and after viewing five, I settled on our current 900 sq ft studio in Coventry. We moved in on Valentine's Day, very much underestimating how much time it would take, especially with two little ones in tow! In a strange twist of fate, the offices were already configured in such a way as to allow socially distanced working with stud walls already in place to create very separate zones.
I quickly started looking for team members in February, but on the day of interviews we got the news that schools would be closing and we were likely heading into lockdown which meant no staff! Bethany finally started in June and has been such a blessing. I'm sure many of you have had some contact with her over the months. We have also had part-time helpers and work placement students with us too who have all been amazing given the circumstances!
Over 14,000 of you joined us over on Facebook with 9,000 in our group and over 20,000 on Instagram! This year we also reached 10,000 subscribers on our YouTube channel with over 50 video tutorials for you to enjoy. Thank you to everyone for engaging with us on these platforms and for our wonderful guest tutors on YouTube.
Over the last year, in addition to the stitch-a-long projects, I'm proud to have worked with the team to have finally launched our Junior Stitch Kits! We have five designs available and more to come next year. We added Get Connected, a free design to our eBook of patterns. Our first range of tote bags was released with four designs as well as the new style double pocket project bags! We created some new scissors in our signature Carlos the Caterpillar green and pink together with bobbin, robin, campervan, sunflower and rainbow needle minders!
I've been working with a fantastic web development team to finalise Love It Stitch It, our new cross stitch design platform and dedicated online marketplace. You can upload and convert images/photos or create charts from scratch then shop or sell designs all in one place! There are a few finishing touches and I'm hopeful to launch in the new year.
We were awarded Best Growing SME at the Woman Who awards, Highly Commended for Best Online Store, Blog and Crafting Woman at the Crafts Beautiful magazine Best of Craft awards, shortlisted in the Crafts Business awards and I was kindly invited down to the Daily Mail HQ in London for a photoshoot and interview after reaching the final 6 in the Natwest EveryWoman awards - a pretty surreal day! Thank you SO much to everyone who voted and for your ongoing support.
I was honoured to be chosen as one of Holly Tucker's (Founder of Not On The High Street) Small Business Inspirators tasked with sharing stories and inspiration with other creative entrepreneurs!
In September, I was also contacted to host a private cross stitch class for a Hollywood celebrity! For weeks leading up to the event I was convinced it was a hoax until I found myself on a Zoom at 10pm on a Saturday night with one of my childhood idols over in LA!
The Stitched Together project is finally complete (our lovely seamstress donated much of her time to making scrubs and face masks over lockdown) and looks incredible! I can't wait to show you all in January. Thanks to everyone who took part.
I'll be working hard on managing Love It Stitch It, creating video tutorials to show you exactly how it works, creating content for our subscribers and making sure the marketplace runs smoothly. We'll have a mini launch party of sorts and share everything with you when its ready.
On January 23rd I'll be sharing some of our kits and needle minders on the Hochanda TV channel!
We'll be producing many more YouTube videos including helpful tutorials, chatty flosstubes and weekly updates.
I'm also super excited to announce that I'll be writing two books! I'm thrilled with the publishers and plan for the books and hope that you'll love them too! They're likely to be published towards the end of 2021.
We will be hosting more virtual Stitching Socials with a range of dates and times to suit both UK and international stitchers. The Made to Create SAL will launch in January, Hello Petal the spring tree design will launch around February/March with more SALs in April and August!
Fancy more stitching with surprise designers on a quarterly basis? Welcome to the Caterpillar Club Box subscription for 2021! Each box will be beautifully designed by an independent artist, jam packed with cross stitching goodness!
I'd love to hear your feedback from 2020, so please click HERE to complete the survey, it'll only take a few minutes. Thanks again for all of your support during 2020 whatever that form that may take from commenting on social media, watching our YouTube videos, taking part in Stitch-a-Longs, leaving a review or attending an event - I'm so grateful from the bottom of my heart and you're making this girl's dreams come true.
Here's wishing you a very merry Christmas and happy, healthy new year.
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