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A Season to Remember: Navigating Wins and Losses

A Season to Remember: Navigating Wins and Losses

It's been a rough couple of months. There, it's been said.

November marked a particularly challenging chapter. But before diving in, I can't help but acknowledge the bittersweet moments that added depth to this emotional rollercoaster.

Watching Friends while working.

As a dedicated fan of the TV series Friends (I often watch it while working), the end of October delivered news that left a bruise on my heart. The passing of Matthew Perry cast a personal shadow of sadness. To me, it wasn't the loss of "just some Hollywood actor"; it was a reminder of personal memories intertwined with the Friends legacy. A painting I painted for Perry's home and the surreal experience of being invited to the HBO Max Friends Reunion Premiere in Los Angeles back in 2021 are happy milestones that hold a special place in my heart. The news of his passing felt personal, a reminder of the impact he had on my own journey. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and those who he impacted in life.

Jen and Chris at the Friends Reunion Premiere

While being saddened by this news, our business was also weathering some storms.

We've always strived to be open and honest about the trials of running a business. We know others are watching Forged Flare®—our existing customers, newbies (hi—welcome!), and other small business artists.

An Inspirational Story

Going into the year, we had high hopes. During last year's fourth quarter we had quadrupled sales over the previous year. It completely blindsided us and you may remember the challenges we faced then. Our primary laser broke down the week before Black Friday and we struggled to keep up with demand—frequently selling out of our best sellers and not being able to restock faster than it was selling out!

In fact, it was such an inspirational story that Mei Pak, Founder of Creative Hive and Tiny Hands featured our business' story in "How to Go from No Product Idea to a Six Figure Handmade Business". Mei's A Sale A Day Business System is my very first business class and the blueprint we used to build Forged Flare® from scratch. It was the first time I'd been asked to do a video interview, and I was honored to be featured. Because of our business success, I was also asked to share my personal experiences with Multi-$tream-Machine, a small business group in which I am also a member.

Creative Hive's Mei Pak speaking to Jen in an interview.

We Noticed Something Was Very Wrong ...

Naturally, riding last year's high, we sailed into 2023 with high expectations. While the year started strong, it was in March/April that we noticed something was very wrong. Our marketing budget costs skyrocketed and sales started to dry up. It is natural for business to be slow during the summer months, but when sales stayed stagnant going into Q4, we became disheartened. While we were hoping for a strong Black Friday, unfortunately, the windfall never came.

Chris organizing shipping boxes.

This morning we finished doing the books for November and we are down 46% from last year while our expenses have gone up. That's a big ouch. We know so many are suffering in this financial climate, and even despite these numbers, we consider ourselves lucky all things considered. Many have lost their jobs, while others are barely making ends meet. Inflation hurts. It's just rough out there for everyone. We know so many small business owners who have decided to throw in the towel on their dreams and close up entirely; they are tired. It breaks our hearts to see, but we understand.

Jen writing thank you notes.

... Cue the Rude Comments

To compound the feeling of disheartenment, when we started running ads again, the rude and uninformed comments about pricing came flooding in. (We couldn't help but wonder why people chose to share negativity instead of simply scrolling past.)

Jen making an exasperated

With a smile on our face, we always try to respond to each with grace and kindness—striving to provide a little education. We believe that by sharing knowledge, we might be able to shift perspectives on pricing for handmade products from small businesses, aiming to change hearts and minds. (If you haven't yet, be sure to read "You're too expensive!"—our most popular article that shares insight into what goes into running a small handmade business like ours.)

Usually, comments like these don't bother us, but when they come nearly every day, it can mess with your spirit. In response and to help make certain gifts easier to find, we created a link that contains all of our budget-friendly items: Gifts Under $30.

Your Amazing Support Kept Us Grounded

Your unwavering support has been our anchor during these tough times.

To each customer, follower, subscriber, and kind-hearted individual who has stood by us, we extend so much love and gratitude. Your encouragement lifts our spirits and keeps us going.

But, WAIT! We Had Some Amazing Recent Wins, Too!

Exciting news keeps rolling in for Forged Flare®!

We recently launched Shop Small, Shine Bright—a collection of articles that focuses on small businesses and their founders. We intend to shine a light on the other small businesses that are interwoven with own story.

Our Christmas Nativity collection made it into Good Housekeeping at the end of October—how awesome is that?

Then, just a couple of weeks ago, Texas Lifestyle Magazine showcased Forged Flare® in their gift guide "Gifts Made in the Lone Star State," and Sparkles to Sprinkles featured us in "Give the Best Gift This Year."

Also, I recently had an interview with CO— by U.S. Chamber of Commerce! They wanted insights for their article entitled "Small Business Trends That Will Impact Your Sales in 2024."

We were quoted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

But wait, there's more! Our amazing Mother’s Angels® are going to be featured on an upcoming TV news segment, and within a month or two, my very first written piece will be published!

In Closing

As we navigate this rollercoaster journey, your support remains our driving force. We're incredibly optimistic about the future and eager to continue sharing our journey with all of you. Thank you for being a key part of our story. Together, we'll continue to overcome challenges and celebrate victories, embracing every step of this extraordinary journey.

Jen and Chris, Co-Founders of Forged Flare

In times when you can, we encourage you to support small businesses—they're the heartbeat of communities. If you're considering purchasing any of our unique designs, your support means the world to us. If you aren't able to right now, we understand. Remember, brighter days are on the horizon, and together, we'll emerge stronger. We're all in this together, and your support truly makes a difference in so many lives.

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About Jen Street

Jen Street is the Founder & Creative Director of Forged Flare®, a business that specializes in creating unique ornaments that are reminiscent of stained glass. Handcrafted in Texas and perfect for gifting, her Mother’s Angels® ornaments make people feel seen, appreciated, and loved. Sign up for the newsletter and save on your first handmade ornament today.

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