One whole year. It’s been the longest and shortest year of my life. It seems like a year lost. There’s been struggle, sadness & hardships but there has also been growth. And we’ve actually done quite a bit in this past year, so I thought I would share both mine and Akinz’s journey over the last year to take a moment to reflect, to say thank you to those of us that kept us afloat and to look forward to a brighter future.
One year ago today I had to announce that we would be closing the shop for the health of our staff and community. I thought I would be closing until the end of March, but deep down I wasn’t really sure what that meant for the future of Akinz.
We all know that 2 weeks turned into almost 2 months. We embraced working from home just like everyone else.
We posted our #knittingandnetflix and drew new designs on the back patio in the sunshine.
Our customers kept us afloat by ramping up online shopping. Some bought gift cards, some bought t-shirts, others found comfort at home in cozy sweatshirts and blankets. I made home deliveries to our local shoppers and found joy in cheery & bright front doors.
I somehow felt like more of the community visiting neighborhoods and homes of people who normally walk in the door of our shop even though I didn’t see anyone’s face.
And then we realized this could last a LOT longer than we all expected. About the time I wrote this post about Life in the Age of Corona, I started wondering where my business was headed.
Akinz has been such a big part of my life for so long, but to be honest, I thought we were possibly looking at the end. I spent all my free time applying for grants, loans, whatever I could find to keep my business alive and my employees paid. And the rest of the time I thought about what I would do with my life post-Akinz.
So I started making face masks for my neighbors and family to fill my time. Then I started getting requests from customers, so I added them to the website. And then the orders poured in. So I made masks.
And I made masks. And more and MORE masks. This little corner of my home office (bottom right in the gallery above) is where I spent 12-14 hours of my day for about 3 months straight. We made masks for Visit Fort Collins to give to re-opening hotel employees. We made masks for lots of local businesses to be able to re-open. Social Fort Collins, Music City Hot Chicken, Harbinger Coffee, Flexx Productions & The Lobby Denver to name a few. And we made masks for SO many of our loyal customers and customers that were new to our brand.
To anyone and everyone that ordered a mask over the last year,
I never imagined face masks would be something we were creating in our brand, but we have made almost 5,000 masks to date.
Now that we’ve been re-opened in some sort of way since May, we have had to re-consider the way we do our business in so many ways.
Going from 20% income from events, to ZERO was a scary challenge to overcome, but with the extra time we had to brainstorm and plan, we were able to grow our wholesale and online business to more than make up for the loss of events! Once again, if you are a new to us wholesale or retail customer, then
It’s easy to forget in this blur of a year that there were so many good things that also happened. Even though there were fewer new designs than we would normally release, looking back, we actually released a lot of new products this year!
Here’s some of my faves.
And even though there was no Live Printing event for our shop anniversary, we still celebrated 8 years of having our storefront in Old Town by encouraging people to get outside via our Golden Ticket Scavenger Hunt!
To those that aren’t local, to our wholesale customers and our online shoppers, THANK YOU. You guys ordered more Verse Knit Hoods and Ski Patrol Beanies and Colorado sweatshirts than ever before. And we made them with less staff than ever. To my staff that helped Akinz thru this year, THANK YOU.
To the reporters that featured our face masks in NOCO Style, our ski patrol beanies in the Denver Post Gear Guide & the story of our brand itself in Denver Life Magazine, THANK YOU.
We also want to give yet another and a big resounding
to all the local customers who came out to shop during the holidays and support. We had so many people tell us, “We’ve challenged ourselves to ONLY shop local for the holidays this year and not online.” or “We’re buying ALL of our Christmas gifts downtown this year because we don’t want to see our favorite stores disappear.”
And the truth is, we DID see several Old Town classic businesses disappear over the past year. Ones you never thought would leave. But this year has thrown a lot of curveballs. And we wanted to take a moment to look back at it even though many of us might rather forget it. To appreciate the journey it has taken for my business and myself, to say Thank You as many times as I can to friends and customers who kept Akinz alive, and to pause and be grateful that we are still around and thriving…
ONE YEAR LATER.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! — Suzanne Akin–