2020 In Review

This year has been all about survival for so many businesses and honestly we're so, so grateful to be here. I didn't know if we would. Many of my friend's in business have not survived. There were a lot of sleepless nights, worrying about our company, our people, their safety, their mental health, our mental health, the craziness of the world. I barely remember March, April and May. I think I spent that time fighting to make it work. Fighting to keep my family reasonably ok.


Emma was there on day 1 crying with me because you all donated money right away to help us to make masks. You gave us hope that secretly people are good. I couldn't have done it without Emma this year. She was level headed and collected when I was running out of breath. I think we took turns keeping our heads on straight. She did a ton. I do remember in June I stood in the kitchen and cried because that's how long it took to hit me that we weren't going to do any of the cool stuff we had planned for this year. I think we all had our moments of crying over the smallest and largest things. But we are here. We did other stuff that we might never have tried out. 

 

We had a lot of firsts this year. We made pants, a shirt, we got a screen printing set up, we made thousands and thousands of masks, we've estimated it at upwards of 30,000.  Emily is the champion of all sewing, she sewed a lot of these masks. She deserves a fucking medal. 

 

David and I designed 45 new products. Well I say we, but he did the pattern work, the sewing, all the execution. What I do in the design department is edit, discuss, plan, tweak, encourage and prod. We sewed for a few months straight and yet he still designed more things as last year. He's a beast. I am constantly surprised by his design work. He does this thing where he tells me what he's thinking of designing next and I start to get a picture of it in my head and then when he's done with it, it's completely different than what I imagined.  We came up with the Designer's Special, and made a few of those. Did you hear that we made pants? That was something we worked on for so many months, we did countless iterations of a techwear style pant.  At the end of 2019, we thought pants and a shirt would be the highlight of our year's new product listings. We finally were able to make a shirt and pants guys! We launched them in April. Most folks didn't even notice. We kept making masks. 

 

We have made a commitment to making more of our product in our studios. It just makes sense. When all our partnered sewing houses closed down in New York, we had projects on the table in their sewing rooms. We asked them to make masks. But they couldn't, or wouldn't. And we're so good at making our own product that we're finding that making things in house makes us more nimble, more able to make one off projects, and to make smaller batches. We got a cutting knife to cut fabric in stacks, Mike got really good at cutting. He only lost one finger, one time. Don't worry it's grown back.  Mike also said yes, to just about everything we threw at him this year. And for that I am so thankful. 

 

We are training a new sewist, Qi, we already like them. They seem like they've already been here for a long time. 

 

Koco, who keeps the trains running on time, who helps us make our products as consistently and as beautifully as you've come to expect, has risen to the occasion, been flexible, done whatever it took to get things done. Not just done, but done right, done our way, every time on time. She's officially been here the longest of anyone other than us founders... She's our make it happen lady and we really appreciate her. She gets it done. 

 

We've tried a 4 day work week to see if that helps us be more sane. We're still doing it, so far it's pretty nice. I think we're still getting as much done? 

 

We've given a lot away. We ran an auction for the NAACP. Donated at least 10,000 masks. Gave away masks to schools, public works, people who asked, and to just about everyone who we came in contact with. We've decided we like to give back. We're partnering with Bagly to give away coats to queer teens this winter who might be in less than wonderful situations at home. 

 

A really important person left this year, Sarah decided to move on. She was part of Volante Design from a very early stage. That was kind of a big adjustment. And, we survived that too. Happily we have found someone who will help to fill the gaps that she left in the marketing and sales department. Selene will be starting in January. I can't wait to work with her. 

 

 I feel like we all deserve to be proud that we are still here. I am immensely proud of my team, what they've done, what we've survived, how we rose to meet the crisis. We learned that together we are better, bigger, stronger, wiser than the sum of our parts. 

 

I am pretty fucking grateful to have had the year we had. We fell on our butts, winced, got back up and tried again. Yes, all things considered it was hard. Super hard. I wouldn't do it again, I hope that we won't have to. 

 

2021 has a lot of promise. One thing's for sure, it'll be different then 2020, and that will be good. 


Willow 

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