The online shop is celebrating its Third Birthday this month! Thank you to everyone who has been part of 'The Collective' thus far... for reading our (sporadic) blog posts, following us on social media, contributing to our giveaways, collaborating with us, attending our workshops, stopping by our markets, for modelling, and photographing said models for us, purchasing Kootenay-inspired gear for yourself or as a gift, showcasing your adventures with us and tagging us in photos when you wear our apparel. *Whew* What a list! I guess our point is, we appreciate you and are having lots of fun thanks in part to your support and feedback.
We still remember our first online order 3 years ago. It was on January 15th and it was a "practice order" placed by Kelsey's husband. We were new to Shopify, so once we had filled the store with product and sorted out the technical details, we did an official test order. Even though it was done with Kelsey and myself (Leah) eagerly looking over our Guinea Pig purchasers shoulders, it was still exciting to see the data go through and get the tell-tale "ding" of an order being placed. A few more final tweaks and our store went public on February 1st, right on schedule.
Since then, we've sold to people with Kootenay roots in almost every province in Canada and even the US. (We also had an order request from Australia but we didn't have the international resources set up to make it happen, which was a bummer.) Our apparel has been stocked at The Doorway, in Trail, for 2 years now and it's truly a special feeling to have our brand showcased in our hometown. We've been able to donate modestly to a number of local events and fundraisers as well as Kootenay Wildfire Relief (Red Cross) and the Love for Lewiston Foundation. As we grow, we hope to partner with more businesses and initiatives that help others and the environment.
The development and online launch of our brand is very special to us as it coincides with other big milestones in our life, mainly the birth of Kelsey's first child and my second.
Our kids are only 5 months apart so we got to spend a good chunk of our maternity leave together. During this "time off" (*laughs hysterically*) we were crazy enough to take an idea we first started picking at in 2011, give it legs, and go for it.
I fondly recall having coffee with Kelsey and a mutual friend one summer day after we'd gone for a run and the idea of her and I starting a business together started to develop. Excitement and laughter bubbled over as we exchanged ideas and our friend exclaimed "what are you waiting for!?" It didn't take long for an idea to take hold that combined our love of design, a splash of homesickness, and a passion for the place that shaped us.
With our design and marketing backgrounds we were confident that we would be able to create something fun and well designed. However, some of the other aspects of running a business were very new to us, not to mention, the typical reservations we had. Would people even resonate with the apparel styles and overall brand concept? Designing for a client can be challenging but nothing has challenged us quite as much as designing and marketing for ourselves!
Fast forward to today and we are so pleased with the response. You've stuck with us through numerous designs and even a brand name and logo evolution. Our goal to be true to our roots, reflect our pride in where we grew up, and not settling until a design feels just right has gone over well and we can more openly admit that we're proud of ourselves. Neither of our personalities lend to patting ourselves on the back much. We tend to just hunker down and do the work versus stopping to think of the things that we've accomplished, big or small. Figuring out budgets and stock orders while operating on zero start-up costs, navigating business taxes for the first time and keeping technical aspects of our social media and website running are new skills we've gained and are all the better for it. We've acquired and mastered new techniques that have made our business stronger and are also reflected in our daily life and full time careers.
Our first workshop last Summer was our initial foray in taking our skills to the masses and teaching people what we know. Imposter syndrome is real and I personally think it's something that affects women more than men. We are taught to be subtle, humble and play down our skills. Quite frankly, it's silly and we've started to recognize ways we've doubted ourselves in the past. Over the last 5 years, our thought process has evolved. We've begun to stand up for ourselves more, be pickier on what projects we take on, say no to what may not serve us well and push our sometimes introverted selves to share our knowledge with others.
Our growing audience has given us this confidence, especially the uber supportive women who also run small businesses that surround us in daily-life and the wonderful friends and resources we've made online. We've spent over 10 years each in the design and marketing industry and definitely have a few tips and tricks up our sleeves.
One of our 2020 goals is to continue to share information about running a business and marketing to a wider audience through collaborations and workshops. Aside from Kootz Collective apparel, this is where we see our brand expanding!
I started writing this post amidst one of the coldest periods on record in Canada and you can bet that the Spring thaw was on my mind. Though it may seem months away to many, we are already starting to plan for the upcoming season. We have new items in the works for the online shop that we're really stoked about. We will also have workshops and market/pop-up filling up our events calendar for the warmer months. Stay tuned on Facebook and Instagram for those announcements.
To celebrate our Happy Birthday, we have a promo for KootzCollective.com running all week. Use code KOOTZ15 at the checkout to save 15% on all orders. (Code expires February 7, 2020)