I love , love, love writing Christmas cards.
It’s quite ceremonial for me.
I fan out my selection of cards, this year from the RSPCA, so I can carefully select just the right one for each recipient.
I get my stamps for each continent in advance and have them to one side. Then I open my address book and start from “A” onwards, searching for all my friends overseas, as these cards obviously take longer to make their way around the world.
Then it’s onto my Aussie buddies and, finally, to those who I will have the chance to give the card to face-to-face.
Each Chrissy, I write around 60 to 70 cards, many to friends I met decades ago when I lived in Namibia, Vietnam, Portugal and Canada, or from bonding on safaris long ago in my beloved Africa.
It’s often the one time each year that I reach out and so each card includes a personalised snapshot of the year: the things that I know will interest that particular friend.
As I was writing these precious memories on the weekend, I thought how interesting it would be to do the same and look back exclusively at my year at The Shoe Garden, listing the ups and downs of life as a proud shoe shop owner.
So, here goes … 2017: the year that (nearly) was at The Shoe Garden.
2017 is a bit of blur with so many gorgeous long shoes finding happy homes with customers around Brisbane, Australia and New Zealand. My customers are truly exceptional; kind, lots of fun and very supportive. THIS is why I love coming to work every day!
I upgraded my website a few months ago. To be honest, it nearly drove me crackers! Note to self to never upgrade a website at the busiest time of the year. There was a lot of drama behind the scenes, but nothing that eventually didn’t get fixed after a few kilos of chocolate, a Panadol or three, and my amazing web support guy. The really good news is that my website is finally completely mobile friendly, customers can search through filters to find just what they’re after and they can leave reviews on their favourite shoes, too. The feedback has been fabulous. Phew.
We celebrated a few special birthdays throughout the year. The Shoe Garden turned 5 in April, CC turned 14 in early October and I turned 50 later that same month. Parties were held on each occasion and, yes, CC and I don’t look a day older! Hopefully, like The Shoe Garden, we just keep getting better with age!
Of all my highlights for the year, I am especially proud to have donated $4,405 from sales in 2017 to help MicroLoan Foundation Australia support women in Malawi start or grow their small businesses. I love the synergy of that … the more successful my business is, the more women I can help do the same! This figure will increase once December ends and I work out the amount to be donated from sales during this month.
I was told quite a few times (and nearly fainted with joy each time!) that my Summer 2017 range was my best ever. Judging by the number of shoes that sold out super quickly, it’s true that my carefully-selected range (read: spent countless hours agonising over which brands, styles and colours to buy!) resonated with my gorgeous customers. You have no idea how much confidence this gives me as I am already booking appointments to view Summer 2018 shoes in January and February next year. I’m ready and can’t wait!
I had a great Winter season too basically because I ignored any thought of this allegedly cooler season (which is typically over in a few weeks here in Bris-Vegas!) and tried to focus on trans-seasonal shoes that can be worn all-year-round. That seemed to have worked well, so I will be doing same for next year!
I have had some health issues hang around most of the year, nothing too dire, but stuff I’ve had to learn to accept and manage. I’ve been trying very hard to follow my own advice in my book about looking after yourself as a small business owner and how imperative that is for your business, let alone you! So I have taken up Pilates (love it), am drinking more water (learning to love it!) and am eating better (yep, kind of loving that, too!).
Oh, and as part of my be good to yourself pledge, I had my first weekend away in a few years in July at North Straddie. I went over by ferry to this beautiful island, a tired and teary mess and came back refreshed and rejuvenated. I’ve since had another weekend away (equally as gorgeous) and have pledged 2018 to be the year of Weekends For Carol. I have two planned already. Woohoooo!!
Hope you have a wonderful, restful Christmas and much love and happiness in 2018.
So that would be my Christmas letter, carefully inserted into a card that, in this case, would have to have shoes on it somewhere!!
This is not the end of this year’s blog though … I still have two more to share and then I’ll take a break until I open The Shoe Garden again in the week of 8 January in 2018.
Hopefully next year’s blogs will be all about more gorgeous shoes racing out the door to happy homes; even more money raised for some incredible business women in Africa; a website that’s behaving itself; and sharing more adventures from precious weekends away.
Until next time
Carol & CCx