Friends, we've been making you Hazel Village animals for TEN YEARS! Time sure does march on; it doesn't feel like that long. When I started making woodland animals and selling them on Etsy in May 2010, I never expected us to get so big. Maybe big enough that I could do this full-time and sell wholesale to a few stores, sure, but I couldn't picture this. For instance, now we do crazy things like order 35,000 little pieces of velcro, the better to make a vast trove of doll clothes on multiple continents.
Which is not to say we're super corporate now! During normal times, we love hosting visitors at our "flagship store" in Brooklyn, which is really our office - as you can immediately see from the piles of shipping boxes coming and going, the hum of sewing machines, the office snacks on the table in front, and (often enough) my baby roaming around. It's not that big of a business at all, but we have 10 people working on it full-time in Brooklyn. I'm proud to say that we've been able to keep everyone working at home through the lockdown. Although that's really because of you - thank you turning to us for your woodland animal needs!
As you might expect, mostly as we have gotten bigger, it's forced us to become more professional and more organized. That doesn't come naturally to me, and I never could have done it without all the kind, professional, organized people who have worked with me. Mostly my friend Emma, but also various people that Emma hired. Without the systems Emma put in place, we never could have formed such good relationships with our suppliers; we wouldn't be able to offer full-time jobs with benefits; we wouldn't be able to plan or forecast much of anything; and I definitely wouldn't have been able to blithely go on maternity leave last year.
In some ways, the bigger we get, the more true we can stay to our roots. For example, now that we're big enough to know we will be able to sell through big enough quantities, we can maintain stable relationships with our artisan partners around the world. Our regular orders provide whole teams of people full-time work, with fair pay and good working conditions, even during the pandemic when most of their other clients have cancelled their POs. In return, these artisans give us beautiful craftsmanship with heart. The reality of growing and a business and learning to delegate is, through the years I have had to tolerate so many things that are not 100% the way I would want them done. If I couldn't compromise like that sometimes, everything would grind to a halt and nothing would get done. But because of these strong relationships with our producers, so much of what we're able to make you these days is delightful beyond my wildest dreams, and I wouldn't change a thing.
Another example: we could only do the Design Your Own Outfit contest once we knew that we had enough followers to get actual entries. And because we have so many loyal fans, most notably the Hazelnuts, we have faith that we can put the wackiest of designs into production and we will sell at least a few. That's such a blessing because it allows us to take design risks, with sometimes magical results. Cases in point: Egg Day pumpkin pants, Bird Parade bird costume, Wake Up Day bonnets, Kit Skunk. Normal companies wouldn't dare put any of those insane ideas into production. But for us, they all sold out fast because we have the best customers.
So thank you, friends, for 10 excellent years. We hope to be your best woodland animal purveyor for 10 more, at least!