It's the time of year when the tax man comes a knocking and we reflect on how we did last year. Reflecting is good. It allows you to see what you did that was right and what you did that was not such a good idea. The thing about creating your own product is that there is noone to tell you what a good idea might be and what will be a huge success. And it's more like the success just builds over time if you've done everything right anyways. Last year was a BIG year for us. Lots of changes, new shop in Vancouver and new warehouse while trying to figure out how to maintain the old when I'm far, far away. I'm going to be honest. It's a tough juggle. This year, 2015, is trying to figure out how to maintain better while trying to increase revenue streams. As much as one can bury their head in the sand and decide they want things to be their decided way, you have to listen to what is working in the marketplace and then go about figuring out how to make that work for the business. It's not always easy figuring that out. That's why this time of year is so great! Numbers don't lie. This is my opportunity to see exactly where the business is growing successfully and where it is not. I then have to weed out the bad and focus on the good.
What this past year has reaffirmed and taught me:
#1 In person sales at targeted markets are golden. I've always known this as that's where I started...any type of market (Farmer's or Christmas) is always a success when I'm there.
#2 Internet is King. And this is not a news flash for anyone but it's been hard to figure out how to make it work for this company and really hasn't been that strong for sales until this past year. We are now seeing how we aren't tapping into a huge revenue stream by not taking advantage of engaging our customers on the internet. Stay tuned for how we plan to fix that in the weeks ahead.
#3 The presence of the person who creates and loves the product is key.
Our web page isn't perfect but we are now actively starting on working on it all the time. It has been sidelined while I've been distracted with expansion last year but this year will be the year that I pay attention and figure out creative ways to make online shopping easier, more cost effective for you and more interactive. We've been waiting for the right time, the right circumstance and the time to have the cash to be really professional about our website creativity. And it occurred to me that if I put that kind of restraint on our product development, nothing would ever get done. We very much go by the just do it philosophy when making new items or designs or scents. That philosophy is now being used on our webpage. So yes, it may not be perfect. It may be a bit campy in it's feel. It may not be a polished site like a big corporation would have. But that's exactly what Hartmont is about. We love to be friendly, creative, fun and think outside that box. I almost feel that if we were too polished that our Hartmontiness would be lost. Kind of like our soy candles are amazing but they are each one of a kind and amazing beyond what a big machine could put out there. Too polished makes them look like every other cookie cutter attempt at making a candle out there. We want to be different and have people fall in love with us just because we are our amazing selves. Not because of an endorsement or press, but because we are great at just being us with our great designs and amazing, out of this world, magical scents!
Now hopefully you are intrigued and because I have put it in writing, I am now committed to making sure it gets done. Our new web page is almost done (videos are being made now) to make it truly interactive and hopefully you find the charm in it rather than the not perfect lighting or perfectly scripted chat. It's raw and it's us just like you would find if I was in any of my venues. We are trying to create a “let's go shopping with Lana” atmosphere via the internet. Oh, and trust me, we will be changing and updating it constantly so the Lana you get at the beginning might not be the same as the Lana you get at the end but that's okay...it's all part of the growth and development process. Hope you enjoy the ride!