How are we six years from the launch of shopsosis.com where we (very officially) hit "publish" around 4:30 a.m. from Chelsey's kitchen table? Shortly after - our first order came through! It was from our Mom and we still have that order printed and hanging in our office.
So much has happened in six years. Chelsey got married, Annie Claire built a house, Chelsey had a baby, Annie Claire had a baby....and the list of major LIFE milestones really could go on. Then you count BUSINESS milestones like opening our first storefront, winning "Best Local Women's Boutique" and "Small Business of the Year," Annie Claire Designs expanding, growing our team, having record sales in the midst of a pandemic, etc. etc. -- and you would think we've aged quite a bit in six short years.
Truth is, we have. Age is a beautiful gift - in life and in business. Turning another year older means we are still here and all the work we've done to get to where we are today has been worth it. It is what enables SoSis to keep welcoming you into our world - whether online or in store. It hasn't all been rainbows and sunny days, but overall, we'd say things have been splendid!
During the year of cancellations (ahem, 2020), we emailed 225 Magazine a few days before the "Best of 225" voting was set to end and said, "Are the awards still on this year? Should we be asking for votes?" The answer: YES! So from each of our own homes, we rallied our whole family into creating a video that really is "so 2020." We asked our sisters to take a minute to help make what was a weird season a little brighter. And they pulled through voting our little small town boutique "Best Local Women's Boutique."
A little before then in February - you know when we were all blissfully hugging strangers at social events - the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce named us "Small Business of the Year" and boy were we gleaming.
When we look back on 2020 we will of course remember the hard times, but we will also remember how great of a year it was for SoSis, too. In the darkness, SoSis, so often, was our light and for that we are so grateful.
This post would be way too long if we listed the many people that support us day in and day out. It's days like our Birthday Party when we feel the love so hard we can't stand it. From faithful customers to dependable employees that show up every single time; from our parents to our sisters/cousins in law that party with us IN STORE until 11 p.m. (yep); from our husbands rallying the kids to other small business owners popping in on their way to a wedding; we feel so loved and supported. We are the lucky ones.
After a predictably slow January and February, we entered March with naive, hope filled eyes. Our store racks were filled with pretty dresses and beautiful jewels for sistas to wear to weddings, springtime showers and Easter Sunday mass.
Boom - the world stopped.
But SoSis didn't. How can we be having our best year yet in the middle of a pandemic?
Short answer: our incredibly supportive, faithful, amazing customers.
Seeing people go out of their way to purchase a LYLAS Box: Hard Times, loungewear for staying in, or sweaters for going out safely for the first time in months is truly magical. Small is the new big and if we've learned anything throughout this pandemic it's that we don't want to see any small business close its doors. Small businesses are what make communities what they are. Our customers know that when they choose to shop small, they choose community, they choose local and they choose culture. You chose SoSis and for that, we are forever thankful!
Chelsey's sweater | Chelsey's skirt | Chelsey's necklace | Chelsey's earrings | Annie Claire's blouse | Annie Claire's pants | Annie Claire's hat (sold out, but similar) | Annie Claire's necklace | Annie Claire's bracelets
From Chelsey: A Year of "Doing the next right thing"
If you know me at all, you know I start many conversations with "I was listening to a podcast, and...." It's true, this can get a little predictable and I feel like a broken record, but 2020 has been the year of podcasts for me. Podcasters have helped me navigate decision fatigue, small business owner woes, solo-prenuer loneliness and toddlerhood during a pandemic.
One I discovered recently is "The Next Right Thing" by Emily P. Freeman. Her words hit me hard on so many levels. Her whole idea of "our decisions make our lives" is something I think of often with every decision I make.
SoSis' year 6 has been the year of hard decisions. It's hard to cancel inventory orders you planned months in advance because your doors are closed. It's hard to work only when your toddler is sleeping (4 a.m. coffee call, please) and try your very best to be present when she's not. It's hard to come up with a reopening plan that ensures your team and customer's safety is your top priority. It's hard to say "no" to events and markets you've gone to year after year. It's hard to decide whether it is ok to visit your parents (who would have ever thought that would be on my "hard decisions" list?).
It's an understatement to say that 2020 has been hard for every single person in different ways. More than ever, my decision making process has caused more anxiety in my heart than I'd like to admit. But Emily's words come back to me over and over again - do the next right thing. Focus on the next step and make sure it feels good and right.
SoSis is a novel of "the next right things." Sure, not all the decisions we've made have been successful - so MANY have been complete failures. But, when we are deciding, we are always doing what we think is good and right in that moment, during that season.
We will always work to "do the next right thing in love."
From Annie Claire: Stronger at Six
Every year, I reflect on how we've grown our business(es) and I honestly have tears in my eyes thinking of how proud I am of our 6th year. That glimmer of a dream years ago finally feels like it's unfolding to be true. I'm not gonna lie, the first five years have been tough. I can truly see how businesses give up and close before they make it over the 5 year hump. The struggle is real, yall. I know my fellow business owners can attest to this and understand where I'm coming from.
My Momma told us the whole time that we would be ok when I would call her asking
"How are we going to make it, Mom? How are we going to pay rent this month? How long did it take you to really turn a profit in your business? Are we doing the right thing? Should we stop and just call it a loss? Can you help us?"
I'm being completely raw right now, but it's true. Owning a small business isn't for the faint at heart and you have to have some GRIT to keep going.
We bottled up that grit learned at a very young age and are going strong. I'm so proud to say we have a "cushion" to do a few upgrades to the store. Sounds silly, but that makes my heart happy! We have an incredible team who I can trust on a daily basis to "run the store" when we are out working ON our business instead of always IN our business. Gone are the days of me working inside the store all by myself, taking turns with Chel, so that we could also work on our other businesses for an income stream.
If you don't see Chel and I's faces inside the store when you come in, just know we are still here trying to make magic happen, so that your SoSis experience - whether online or in person - is top notch.
Cheers to going into year 7 with bright eyes, new ideas and tricks always up our sleeves! THANK YOU for staying around for the ride!