a year of impossible things before breakfast
Last night before bed, I was watching Alice In Wonderland when I was reminded of Lewis Carrolls’ whimsical words that mostly just feel like my life - “sometimes I’ve believed as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast”
The turning over of a New Year means the whole world is thinking about elevating and challenging ourselves to do things we’ve never done before.
But in business we do this every day! We believe in impossible things, and most of those impossible things become possible when we try them.
Every day in entrepreneurship is like a New Year, at least most times it feels like it. Every day we try stuff we’ve never done before, challenge what we know and get inspired to push boundaries where we create new versions of ourselves, our employees and our companies. It’s the way we survive.
This year running Youer, I believed in many more than 6 impossible things. It seemed like each month we were climbing over some sort of obstacle and finding a way through. Every single month we launched new product which was an enormous effort for a team of 3. We all wore wayyyyy more hats that we should have and managed to do the work of a 7 or 8 person team. Each launch campaign was a visual story and I personally directed, shot, and edited the photos and videos for 8 of those campaigns in addition to designing the product and prints for all 12 and handling 100% of digital marketing for the entire year.
January: 'let's start a warehouse' – We were a team of 2 (me and Alicia) and got let go by our 3PL – there was a lot of ‘firing’ this year. So, I rented the only available ‘warehouse’ on Craigslist (a 500 sq ft glorified garage), hired someone to ship and we figured it out together. That ‘someone’ is Olivia who became an absolutely integral member of the team over the last year. She shipped over 10,000 pieces of clothing across the world and managed the customer service involved in that among a long list of ‘other duties as assigned’.
February: 'Poshmark ain't got nothin' on Youer' – After seeing the appetite for our clothes at resale on Poshmark I thought “we gotta do our own resale!” and behold – Treet entered the scene. In partnership with Treet, we launched our own branded resale site where you can buy and sell your used Youer to other fans.
March: AK, not that far away – Alaska loves Youer and Youer LOVES Alaska! Anchorage is quickly outpacing our home city of Missoula in number of customers so I went to the source and brought a few suitcases of dresses for a pop-up at the Alpine Fit HQ. Within 2 hours, I was going home with empty suitcases and lots of new friends. The amount of Youer I saw in the wild (at tiny breweries in the mountains, at the grocery store in Homer) was incredible.
April: how about another factory? – After making the decision to move all production to one factory, Alicia and I took a trip to LA to visit and get things set up.
May: one million opinions – We started messing around on TikTok because it seemed like we needed to do that. I posted a story about my failed meeting with REI a couple years ago and overnight it went viral. Over a million people watched it and so many opportunities came from that video (spoiler, none of them from REI lol)
June: fired....again - we got fired from our factory (the same factory that dropped us in 2020) in the middle of production on our shorts and croptops and had to remake a lot of them at the new factory. The owner of the factory said a lot of insulting stuff to me about how I run my business, then he went out of business a few months later. Karma? Hundreds of our croptops arrived missing a final stitch (to close up the hole that makes them reversible) so we had to sew every single one in-house.
July: roller skating pizza party – We teamed up with a rad group of roller skating babes for our launch photos (Olivia’s brilliant idea) and had a pizza-party-roller-skating summer evening on the roof of a parking garage. We made wayyyyyyy too many Gains Shorts, but these epic photos actually helped us sell a gazillion more pairs than we were expecting to.
August: the buzz – a TikTok video I made about how much it costs to make clothes went viral and Buzzfeed wrote an article about it. It was wild. We had 30k people go to our website over a weekend. We launched a beautiful collaboration with the Salmon Sisters that we were really excited about. And it hit a MAJOR bump (possibly a business-ending bump). Navigating that was really challenging and we all learned and listened an enormous amount.
September: Dresses on the menu - We turned our mini warehouse into a Pizza Shop for the evening to launch our Treasure Dresses. Even though it was 90 degrees and we were selling fleece, locals showed up to see what was on the ‘menu’ and we played up the theme with team uniforms and a wheel of fortune.
October: a 500% upgrade with windows – After legitimately busting out of the mini warehouse, we moved a mile down the road to a new warehouse 5x the size. 4 of us and a couple UHaul loads and we were in. And just in time. Late October, we would part ways rather aggressively with our sorta new factory. It was VERY ugly, extortive, and not something I want to go through ever again. Now we have space to have more control over production.
November: let's do it all – Probably the busiest most wild exciting exhausting incredible month of business I’ve ever experienced. I saw a post about an all women’s ski movie premier on Instagram so I DM’d them and was like “can we show your films?”. They were all in, so we painted a projector screen on the wall, hung some posters around town, borrowed a projector and hoped people would show up. Nearly 100 of you showed up to the BYOC (bring your own chair) event and celebrated women in skiing. A couple weeks later, many of you showed up for yoga taught by Kelsey and we proceeded to have a wild Women Led Wednesday Sale that took Olivia and me about 50 hours to ship all your orders. It was magical.
December: back to the beginning - we went a little too HAM in November and were pretty exhausted, but dreamed up a fun collaboration with Sobba Cycle to launch our Chill Sets, then hosted a holiday pop-up in our new warehouse with a few vendors. That was pretty personally special to me because I started this business travelling around to events and sleeping in my truck. So, being able to open Youer’s own doors and have people come to us was a pinch-me moment for sure.
What’s up for next year? Well, we’re dreaming up those impossible things right now just like the rest of the world. But one BIG BIG thing that’s happening in the next couple of months is that we’ll be starting up our own machines and sewing.
In business, we might dream up the impossible. But it’s really all of YOU who make it possible. A dream is nothing without a community of people who also believe in it. This business started as a dream. I bought a $100 sewing machine on eBay and started sewing clothes for fun, hoping that some day I’d be able to do it all day every day. And over the last decade, thousands and thousands of you have joined the dream and it’s far far beyond any dream I could have dreamed on my own. So, as we take this time of year to reflect, I hope you give yourself permission to dream the impossible. Because this year has taught me that anything is possible.
Cheers, and a giant hug to each one of you. THANK YOU for making this possible and keeping us going for yet another year!
founder, Chief Everything Officer @ Youer