To sum up how I feel about year 2016 would be GRATEFUL. Looking back to January 1st, 2016 to where I am today exactly one year later, I'm so pleased with all the progress that we've made over the course of our very first year in business. I can't think my friends, family and of course my loving fiancé for all of their support!
Since graduating from college in 2015 I have learned so much, and continue to learn new things each and every day. I've learned that being an entrepreneur is tough. Not a little tough. Very tough. It isn't easy it constantly challenges me in ways I didn't think possible. I'm at the very beginning of my venture and I know there is a long road ahead of me, but I can't stop to think about where I am now, and not feel a sense of happiness and contentment.
I'm as guilty as the rest of them for always seeking the next step, planning ahead for bigger goals, and higher expectations, very natural of someone with an entrepreneurial spirit. While I think this is great, and it's wonderful to be ambitious I think it is equally important to reflect on the present, and enjoy where we are in each phase of our lives. This post is about just that. It is my personal reflections on the year of how far we've come in one year, and celebrate those accomplishments both big and small, treasuring the days and moments I've had in the past year.
An entrepreneur normally gets all the "credit" for doing everything on their own, which is true.. to a certain extent. Yes we are very busy, yes our business is always on our mind, and yes we don't have time for much else in life, but who often doesn't get any credit is their friends and family who rally around them on their journey giving their full support. I want to take a moment here to thank those people in my life.
First and foremost I want to thank my parents. I want to thank them both for all the love and support they’ve given me and continue to give me. I couldn’t ask for more supportive parents and I can’t express how truly grateful I am for everything they’ve done.
I want to thank my two sisters, my older sister who is always ready to jump in and help me where I need it. She is excellent in sales and looks great behind our table at the different shows we’ve participated in this year. To my younger sister who helps me where she can, even while she is busy off at college working towards her own career! Most importantly thank you to both of them for listening endlessly to me about Pieces of Me and my goals for the business!
To my friends, specifically Kaylin, Jessica, and Brooke. It takes very special friends to stick with me and always listen to my woes and little successes along the way with this whole starting a business thing. Not everyone is willing to sit there and be with me through these times in the beginning when it is tough and isn’t pretty, so thank you. Thank you for being such amazing friends to me during this phase of life, I’ll remember it always.
I also want to thank our kick-butt team of interns we've had this past year. Shoutout to Kylee and Carly who have stuck by the team even after their semester long internship was over. To our newest team members who are also sticking with me, Abby and Jordan thank you. You are all such amazing talented ladies, and have helped me find a love and passion for mentoring all of you and leading the team.
Last but not least thank you to my loving fiance Steve. Not long into our dating life Steve knew what he’d be getting himself into by dating such an ambitious driven entrepreneur. Steve, thank you for all your constant support and encouragement but most importantly for coming along with me. I know you didn’t necessarily ask for it but I appreciate you being apart of this journey. I know for a fact I would not be able to do this without you. I love you a million times and back and I’m so excited to get married this year and continue our entrepreneurial journey together!
I started Pieces of Me because of a positive experience I had in college in one of my graphic design classes with one of my design projects. A project where I analyzed my personality through the lens of my close friends and family. I designed a pattern with the different icons that represent the different personality traits they saw in me. Every time I saw that pattern it was a positive experience, a positive reminder that my friends and family thought I was creative, confident, hard-working etc. It was then that I know I wanted to share that positive experience with others, and that’s exactly what I’ve started to do.
It is a small start, but when I hear some of the positive stories and reactions from customers it makes it all worth it. A couple of my favorites from this year are below.
A senior in college, a graphic design major purchase a hard-working cuff bracelet back in march because she thought it described her best.
“...since then I have made sure to wear it to every interview I’ve had since graduating college. Now after going through the summer that I went through, applying to a million jobs with plenty of ups and downs, I know that hard-working is part of who I am as a person. Since starting my new job last week, I’ve worn my bracelet every day. Every time I look at my bracelet throughout the day I’m reminded of how hard I worked to get to where I am today. The bracelet is a symbol of what it means to never give up and the success I’ve had so far in my career and trials I’ve had in my life”
Another customer purchased a custom cuff bracelet with all her co-workers for their boss as a christmas gift. All the co-workers got together and took a survey to decide which 4 personality traits described their boss the best. After gifting to their boss at their annual christmas party I heard word from this customer that their boss was in tears, and she wasn’t the type of person to get overly emotional. The cuff was an extremely meaningful gift and made a huge impact on their boss and how much her staff appreciated her for who she was.
It has been such an excellent first year of business, and it is an understatement when I say I look forward to what's in store in 2017.
I’m ready for the ride.
-Elsa Vogel, PIECES OF ME FOUNDER