2020 Review + Looking ahead to 2021
I know it's becoming a cliche now to talk about how weird 2020 was, but...it was weird. And kinda hard. But also not that bad in other ways. It was just weird and I know that now that we've made it to 2021 things will be magically better and some kind of normal, so we have that to be thankful for!
For Pattern Scout, 2020 was overall pretty good, in spite of any anxieties I had about the state of the world. I officially started selling PDF patterns in March of 2019, and comparing 2020 to 2019 was actually pretty exciting. Business revenue was almost triple what it was last year. I have you all to thank for that (thank you so much!), for helping me grow this business into something real and sustainable. Being able to turn a profit and pay bills--and pattern testers--doing something I love is very empowering. And on a more personal level, I have grown so much with my sewing and drafting skills. I still have so much to learn and I welcome that challenge as I continue to work on this business.
In 2020, I released two new patterns: the Romy Wrap and the Nellie Joggers (honestly, it felt like way more!). More pattern ideas were in the works, but burnout kinda got to me this year. There are a lot of things about releasing new patterns that I love. And there are a few things about it that can be super stressful, especially for a people-pleasing perfectionist. *Ahem* Especially during a global pandemic.
So, I gave myself a little space to slow down later in the year. I've learned that slowing down and taking a beat to clear my mind really works for me, especially when I start feeling a bit directionless. It seems like new patterns are released every day and the pressure to pump out new designs and keep up is real. The break has been nice and has allowed me to daydream and experiment with pattern ideas without the pressure to turn them around into a product immediately.
During this break, I also spent some time updating the website and switching e-commerce platforms to make it easier to download pattern purchases and hopefully make Pattern Scout sewing content across channels more accessible.
Starting a YouTube channel
While I was taking that little break from patternmaking pressure, I started a YouTube channel! Because apparently I don't do well with taking breaks! But I have to say, the YouTube channel has been loads of fun to work on. It's also introducing me to another side of the sewing community online (and allows me to introduce projects that are more education-oriented and less product-oriented). It's just another outlet for learning and creating that really scratches my brain in all the right places. I've also enjoyed doing "research", aka watching a lot of creative folks make things on the platform. I used to think of YouTube as a search engine for quick tutorials. Now I am definitely using it as another entertainment channel and following creatives who release longer-form tutorials, DIYs, and vlogs that I really enjoy and look forward to. And that is the format I am experimenting with for my own channel.
New Skillshare e-courses
Before producing content for YouTube, I'd had some success with creating e-courses on Skillshare, and published two new classes earlier in the year on drafting patterns in Adobe Illustrator. I'm really happy with how those have been doing and I'm so grateful to Skillshare for providing another revenue stream that I really barely have to think about most days! If you've ever considered creating a class there, definitely do it!
Paper pattern update
At the start of the year, I thought I might work toward having paper patterns printed. But as the pandemic settled into our lives, that goal felt like less of a priority. In reality, I could have made it work--the printing companies were still operating as normally as possible. But I worried that 2020 may not be the best year to release a physical product that needed to be sold in physical stores when shopping was changing so much. I think it ultimately would have been okay if I had moved on the goal, but I don't really regret waiting it out a little longer. I'm not sure yet if I'll try to make it happen this year.
Looking ahead to 2021
As I sit here writing this post, I have a brand-spanking-new planner on my desk and I'm getting all sorts of warm fuzzies thinking about cracking it open and making a few plans for 2021. I don't usually get too crazy with New Year's resolutions, but I do always have a sense of renewal and hope at the start of each year.
For Pattern Scout, I have new pattern ideas in the works, as well as content for the YouTube channel (I'm working on a puffy coat tutorial right now and can't wait to share that soon). When I first started releasing sewing patterns, I just kind of produced them as the ideas came to me without much of a long term plan for creating a collection of patterns. So this year, I'm going to be a bit more intentional and thinking further ahead to each season. I may still only release a small number of patterns so that I can do them really well.
I'm also thinking of how best to price the patterns. When I have sales, you guys show up and buy patterns and those are my absolute best months. Thank you!! Seriously. It's got me thinking of ways to make the patterns accessible without watering down the pricing too much by constantly having sales. So I have a couple of ideas about that, including pay-what-you-can and bundle pricing structures and releasing a few simpler patterns at a lower price over time (or even making them available to email subscribers for free or at a deeper discount). I'm still working it all out.
I've already implemented a bundle pricing promo that will be ongoing, just enter the code BUNDLEUP at checkout to save 20% when you buy two or more PDF patterns.
One thing I really want to do is start having photoshoots with models. This has been somewhat daunting from a financial perspective. Will it happen this year? I'm not sure. But definitely something I am hoping to be able to do in the next year or so.
I think my biggest takeaway from this year, and possibly what I consider to be the biggest personal success, is that I still love doing this. And it is going well, even when I don't feel like I'm at the top of my game. Even in a pandemic. Even in a really hard year personally (not ready to share that part yet).
I've spent many years--almost a decade now--trying to forge my own path as a creative entrepreneur. For so many years it was so hard and I felt frustrated that I could work so hard and not feel like I was able to make it work. When I shifted gears and started Pattern Scout, so many things clicked into place for me. As much of a struggle as those early years of a previous business were, I'm grateful for them because now I know without a doubt that I am doing what I am meant to be doing. I'm able to really enjoy the process and see it clearly without a lot of "what-ifs" making me second guess myself.
And I couldn't do it without the enthusiasm, creativity, skill, and support of such an amazing sewing community. THANK YOU! I love that I get to share this with so many folks around the world. It's pretty incredible.
I feel like things were just starting to gain traction with Pattern Scout when the pandemic hit, so some of the hopes I had for more in-person creative interaction have been put on hold. But I look forward to being able to connect more in person in the future! This extrovert is ready, dammit!
Happy New Year!