2019 Year End Reflection
If I had to choose one word to sum up 2019, it would be…I can’t pick just one!
This year has been, honestly, pretty great. I sewed (or thrifted) all of my clothing (except one scarf that I bought on a trip home to Mississippi). I started a new business. Closed an old business. Learned a lot about sewing and pattern drafting and making pdf patterns. More than anything, though, I feel like I found my true calling.
MY PREVIOUS BUSINESS LIFE
To understand how I started Pattern Scout, I think it’s important to know what I was doing before. I’d been running my first business, Casey D. Sibley Art + Design (CDS A+D), for about eight years when I started Pattern Scout. It was always a challenge to run CDS A+D. I loved that I was able to be creative and be my own boss every day. LOVED IT. But when it came to marketing myself and my products, there was a huge disconnect. And when things did get really busy, I was kind of miserable, spending most of my time sewing a lot of products and finding very little joy in it. I was exhausted and burned out. It sounds a little woowoo, but I was seriously concerned that I was infusing my negative energy into my products, which were designed to be bright and colorful…and joyful. I was also kind of sad that it was so hard when I felt like I had so much to give creatively. Sad that I was willing to work so hard, but not seeing a real return on my literal blood, sweat, and tears investment. When I had sunk so much money and effort into what I thought was my dream. Yeah, it was hard. But I also learned so much about being nimble and how to grow and build a brand.
Most of those eight years, I was trying to figure out how to find a sense of ease in my work…to not feel like I was always pushing a heavy boulder up a mountain. I thought a lot about trying to pivot into something new, but the idea of starting over from scratch felt a little terrifying.
I STARTED SEWING MY CLOTHES…
Right around the time I started sewing my wardrobe, I had taken a step back from CDS A+D (which is how I found the time to start sewing my wardrobe). I had automated and simplified a lot of my marketing and outreach efforts for the wholesale side of the business, and had built up a tiny bit of passive income with my Skillshare classes, so I could give my mind a break from sell-sell-sell and think about what came next.
Wardrobe sewing clicked for me in a way that I definitely did not expect. At first, I was not in a hurry to make it into my next business (but you better believe I secured a business name, website, email address, and Instagram handle…just in case! :) ). I didn’t want to put too much pressure on it in the beginning because I loved it so much. I wanted to let it evolve naturally, especially after so many years of forcing my creativity into a product in my first business. But I was also curious…
THEN I STARTED DESIGNING PATTERNS
In March of 2019, I released the Luna Crossbody pattern just to see what it would be like to release a pattern. It did okay, not stellar, but well enough to see the potential in it. I was itching to start designing apparel patterns to give myself more of a challenge in my sewing. In June, I released my first garment pattern, the Fern Top, and it did really well…better than expected and definitely better than any other product launch in all my eight plus years in business. It was a huge boost in my morale. I put CDS A+D in “vacation mode” for the summer when I released the Hana Tank + Dress pattern. Shortly after that, I released the Lulu Cardigan. I had started accepting wholesale orders again for the other business, but decided that my heart just wasn’t in it any longer. So I shut it down when I started working on the Byrdie Button-up and decided to officially give my time to Pattern Scout 100%. As much as I worried about whether or not it was time to shut down CDS A+D, I can say with total confidence (and the benefit of hindsight) that it was the right thing to do. I haven’t regretted it at all and I think that says a lot.
Pattern Scout has evolved and grown quickly in the last year. I don’t want to say that it has been effortless. I’ve definitely worked my ass off! But it has been FUN in a way that nothing else has been before. I went from dreading sewing all those little products for my first business, to obsessively sewing—and later, designing—garments and patterns for Pattern Scout. I’m so proud and eager to share what I am doing now.
I’m also grateful for the experience I gained in my first business. Maybe I sound crazy, but I think doing it the hard way taught me how to recognize and appreciate when it’s easier (and not overthink it or make it harder than it has to be). I really do enjoy starting and running businesses. Even when things were hard for CDS A+D, figuring out how to advance to the next step could be so empowering. That’s what kept me going most of the time: the fascination with figuring it out and feeling sort of scrappy about it. I’ve been able to build products for Pattern Scout that I am proud of while protecting the parts of it that bring me joy because of what I learned in my previous experience.
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
I’m very excited for the years ahead. I have SO many ideas. So many it is kind of driving me crazy. But I’m trying to stay calm and focus on the long game here, haha.
In the more immediate future I’m definitely planning to release more patterns this year and have a nice mix of beginner-friendly wardrobe staples and more intermediate/advanced patterns that dive into fun details.
I’ll also be sewing other companies’ (both indie and big 4) patterns with more pattern reviews and pattern hacks blog posts! It’s tempting to just design all my own patterns now, but sometimes I just need a sewing/designing palate cleanser. And I love so many patterns that are already out there! I have a couple of projects that I’ll be sharing soon and I think you’re gonna like ‘em!
One of my very favorite things to do is share my creative process, so I will be working on new Skillshare classes related to pattern drafting and sewing. I haven’t released a class in over 6 months, and in order to maintain my “Teachers to Watch” status on the platform, I have to get crankin’! I’ve been wanting to make a new class anyway, so it’s great incentive to get it going. My next class will hopefully be live by January 15th 2020. Woohoo!
Last, but not least, I love making PDF patterns, but I also realize the value of offering paper patterns, so I am planning to start offering paper patterns to sewing shops. I’m starting small with a short run of each title (probably ready in a few months), and I can scale up my production if things go well. Wholesale was the bread and butter of my last business, so I am hoping that it will be a nice supplement to my current offerings and help get the word out to more people about my patterns.
THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING ALONG THIS YEAR!
I could not have done all that I have done this year without the support of fellow sewists, encouraging customers, and of course, the pattern testers who have helped me bring my ideas to life! This community has blow me away. The creativity, the enthusiasm, the progressive culture, all of it has re-energized me in so many ways and I am so, so grateful to be a part of it. Thank you!
See you next year!