Hey, all! It's Erin here at Silver Hand. We're approaching our 1 year anniversary at the speed of light, and boy what a year it has been.
As any small business owner will tell you - this can be simultaneously the most excruciating and most rewarding process there is. While neither Isaac or I would like to be cooped up behind a desk working at someone else's pace, we couldn't have dreamed of the intricacies - good and bad - that lay in creating a business like this one.
We've learned so much! And yet we still have so far to go. Here are a handful of lessons we walked away with after our first year of business.
Being a craftsperson is definitely not always romantic. Sourcing your own materials, picking your own projects, and choosing your own hours - all of that sounds pretty idyllic. It can be freeing, but it has posed a lot of logistical problems with our one-man team. Without the hum of a big team in full swing, motivation and inspiration can be elusive, and projects often feel a little lonely.
We're still learning to live with these challenges, like discerning how many projects to take on, how much to charge, and picking custom projects that align with our values.
Having a retail studio is freaking awesome. Before our little storefront/workshop opened in the RiNo neighborhood we were managing our business out of a historic (probably haunted) warehouse. Business was humming along through online sales, but it was pretty damn lonely. This light-filled store in a community plaza has been such a blessing, affording us the chance to meet a lot of new people, get involved in a lot of super fun projects, and build a group of other small business owners in our community.
The visibility has been nice, but we've really come to enjoy having a space to meet with people, be they clients, friends, or strangers. We love having people over.
We've learned to pick projects with integrity. With the increased visibility of the retail store, we received a lot of highly specific project orders that just weren't in the vein of what we wanted to create. At first we felt obligated to take these projects on for a lot of reasons - for a friend, or for the money. But it felt wrong.
As the year has progressed, we've narrowed our niche. Our leather goods aren't like anyone else's, and we don't want them to be. We use saddle-grade leather. We only have a few deep, rich colors. We pick projects that speak to us. We realize it's okay to specialize in something - that's what makes us different. We've learned to say "no" just as much as we say "yes".
Magic is in strategy. Our team is real small right now, and there's a lot of stuff to get done. The trick isn't to work harder, it's to work smarter! To delegate. To write out plans and accomplish them. To live by itineraries, schedules, budgets, apps. We've found a lot of super useful websites, downloads, and apps that help manage what we need. We also have a huge piece of paper with all of our goals written on it in Sharpie that works as a running benchmark.
As it turns out, there's a lot of freedom in having a plan!
Some things we're still working on for this next year:
- Hiring new people and building a team overseas in the Philippines.
- Fleshing out Milkrose East as the next facet of our brand.
- Keep better, more balanced books.
- Setting realistic goals and expectations.
- Working with new materials and equipment.
We couldn't do any of this without your support, and we're so grateful to have had many of you along for the journey. Cheers to another year! (And, of course, you're invited to our 1 year anniversary party!)