2017: A New Year for EL
December 27, 2016
One of the reasons why I love making planners is because I love (and often crave) the feeling a fresh start brings. With the Simplified Planner, you “visually” get one every day. A simple, clean place to start anew. I often think of this verse from Lamentations: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Though times and circumstances change, God’s love never ever wavers. He makes all things new and gives us that fresh start every morning.
I found myself, in mid-2016, desperate for a fresh start. In the middle of the beautiful craziness that comes with having two toddlers and a kindergartener, and newly diagnosed with a thyroid disease and autoimmune condition (Hashimotos and hyperthyroidism – an odd pair for any of you who understand this stuff) that were likely exacerbated with stress, I couldn’t find my footing. Life just felt indiscribably chaotic. No amount of organizing brought me peace. And trust me, I’m a pro… I tried everything. My heart clearly told me that it wasn’t my lack of organization that was the problem – it was my over abundance of STUFF. Stuff on my calendar. Stuff in my house. Stuff on my “yes” list. Stuff in my head and stuff in my heart. My family had grown. My business had grown. My responsibilities had grown. In Shauna Neiquest’s book Present Over Perfect, she talks about how a very large church had intentionally grown that way by “putting out the chairs.” Even though they talked about the growth like it just *happened* to them, it actually happened because they just kept putting out the chairs.
I cried the night I read that. A lot. More than I have in years, actually. And it was a weird cry because nothing was broken or wrong or sick. But something wasn’t right and God was calling me down an unfamiliar and uncomfortable path. I felt His tug years ago, but I’d resisted and resisted. For the next few weeks, I prayed my heart out. I took a lot of time to read, relax, sleep, and write. I talked to a handful of close mentors, my team, and my husband. And finally made an enormous decision.
It sounds great to be able to say my line “is carried in almost 800 stores around the world.” Right? Hooray! In fact, it’s been a hallmark line in my professional bio for a few years now, as the number climbed. But in 2016, I found myself on 48 airplanes. In 18 cities. In a countless hotels. Life suddenly just looked a lot different than I’d planned or hoped it would. It wasn’t just the travel that made 2016 a tough year, it was also the way our business changed. You may have noticed I don’t personally write on this blog much anymore. My “coffee break” emails have stopped. I found myself in an entirely new role with a wholesale program so large. We began to design and plan for retailers more than we designed and planned for you, our customers. And that created an empty space, a disconnect, that was as wide and deep as it was deafeningly loud. I knew, as I sopped up the tears, what had to happen. Slowly, we made a plan, late this year, and redefined what success looks like to us. We knew, in our hearts, that just because we could do things, didn’t mean we should. Our new definition of success says it all:
Success, for our brand, means connecting women with JOY in their lives – as students, teachers, professionals, mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, volunteers, encouragers, and friends. Success for us means serving our communities with our time, our resources, and our actual products – being inclusive and being blessings as often as possible. Success means serving our team of seven women and creating jobs that are rich with flexibility, ownership, and creativity. Success means inspiring our community of women to embrace stillness and simplicity so that we can be our best selves and live our best lives.
For myself, success means unabashedly sharing my heart, my faith, and my words. It means wholeheartedly investing myself in the four other people who share my name. It means pulling back without fear because God’s calling me into a new season that is rooted inside the walls of my home. Success means taking care of myself, my health, and my heart – filling my well so that I can richly pour out on others. Success means doing the work God’s called me to do with -you- in mind – you, who I may not know in person, but whom I will call my sister. You who uses our products, reads our content, and hears these words. I let go of my chase for perfection years ago, and now, I will unhook myself from the grips of BUSY, overwhelmed, and overfull.
As of January 1, 2017, we will be closing the wholesale side of our company and focusing on selling our products directly to our customers. While we will continue to sell our products through our top key accounts (Swoozies, Anthropologie, Joseph Beth Booksellers, Monkees, and Chapters Indigo), we will be stepping back into a fully retail business model. Yes, this means less revenue. But it also means our team of seven (staying intact) will get back to what we’re best at – encouraging joy and simplicity with our content and products and genuinely connecting with our sisters who, like us, are just trying to do life well.
We let all our retailers and our incredible reps know about our plan in mid November. I’m teary to tell you that their response to our change in direction was overwhelmingly supportive. Thank you, to all of you, for supporting us in this. We are unendingly grateful for the ways you have stewarded our brand and helped us spread our message. The emails I received from so many of you – small business owners as well – supporting our step back and our commitment to remaining small and mighty, brought me to tears. I am forever grateful.
I’m embarking on 2017 feeling refreshed, renewed, and confident. I’m grateful to my team, my husband, and my family, for supporting me through these growing pains. And I’m so grateful for the God given peace that I prayed He’d give me when we made the right move. It is here and I am proud of where we’re going. My goals for next year include a lot more writing (here and with Book 2 coming next Fall), much more breathing room to be creative for our community, and a whole lot stillness. I’ve learned, this year, that I can’t hear God when I’m too busy executing my own plans. But when I stop, get still, and make space for Him, He speaks loud and clear. Our Simplifying 2017 blog series starts tomorrow – a series of four blog posts (and giveaways!) about tactically simplifying, organizing, and pairing back for a fresh start in 2017.
PS: If you’re looking for some holiday reading, Grace, Not Perfection is on sale on Amazon for under $10 (e-book is just $3.99!) And if you haven’t gotten a Simplified Planner yet, you can get free shipping until January 2 with orders over $100 here.