Sounds easy doesn't it? When business coach and PR guru Rhea Freeman challenged me and a few others to reflect back on the year 2018 and throw down 5 things we each were proud of I honestly though 'what a breeze it'll be' - surely the hardest part will be narrowing it down!
Well, it turns out its pretty bloody hard - writing about myself, the things I've achieved, and stuff I'm proud of doesn't come naturally - I'm British after all! Those who've been following the challenge via the #5ThingsI'mProudOf hashtag on social media will notice I'm a day or two late to the party - simply because I'd chalked it up as "not for me after all". I'm pretty proud of the speed I'm polishing off the Christmas chocolate and cheese - I'm not entirely sure thats the point of the though.. so with Rhea's wise words in my ear, I've pulled up my brave girl pants and here we are.
First up - this blog, and to some extent more importantly what it represents for me. I started 2018 feeling in a really good place with where Equissentials was, and where we were going. Of course, I had that niggling feeling there was *more* I could be doing - don't we all? I was firmly in my comfort zone with my core product brands, loyal customers and all was well - but then I 'met' Rhea. Rhea is a business coach - or as I prefer to think of her, my fairy godmother of PR and Business Coaching. In six months, she's given me the confidence to get out there and play with 'the big boys' (& girls of course!), chasing things I chalked up as "for big names, not me". She's determined to get me on video in 2019 .. I'd say no chance, but if you'd have asked me back in December '18 would I be blogging and would this little business have been featured in national publications this year - I'd frankly have laughed at the thought, probably till I cried.
Second up, I'm so proud of the fact we'd been able to add some amazing brands to our collections. PS of Sweden being one - Equissentials Dressage was only ever intended as a rider and fashion website, mainly stocking 'matchy matchy' dressage sets and cool rider wear to go alongside it. PS of Sweden bridles weren't easily available in the UK at the time, so I took a leap of faith and got in touch. A couple of weeks later our first bridles landed on the website to purchase (along with some saddle pads of course!) and a month or so later the first trial bridle went out on hire. We are now regularly recommended as the 'go to' seller for bridles in the UK and are able to offer fitting and style advice as well which is amazing!
Thirdly, I'm really proud of saying no this year. That sounds like a really funny thing to be proud of doesn't it? I'm the first to admit, I've made some mistakes with my business. Its easy to be swept up in the excitement of a new collection and want to order everything the brand has to offer. Its easy to be led by what other retailers are buying and what the 'key lines' for the season are. I'll own up, there have been moments when I've unpacked a collection months down the line, and thought "who on earth ordered this?!" but these mistakes have given me the confidence in my own knowledge of our customers and what they want from Equissentials Dressage to be able to say "no, I don't think thats quite right for us".
Rider by Horse - Winter '18
The fourth thing I'm proud of sort of ties in with that - its about not being afraid to do something your own way. I'm really proud of the fact Equissentials Dressage stocks and supports smaller brands an that we've stayed true to that. I'm even more proud of the fact we were the first UK stockists of Rider by Horse & PS of Sweden to name two. Its so easy to watch other retailers and get caught up in trends and changes - but you really have to think about if it will work for you and your business first and foremost. By all means, try it - but don't be afraid to say it isn't right for you. After all, why waste precious time on things that aren't helping?
Bring on 2019!
Last of all, I'm so proud of the fact I've held it together this year. Its been a tough one in my personal life, and losing my childhood pony in November just about rounded a really rubbish year off. I'm definitely excited to wave goodbye to 2018 and see what opportunities are just around the corner.
Follow the hashtag on Instagram and Facebook #5thingsimproudof, will you be joining in?