Can you believe that 2018 is almost here? This year just flew by. I’m sharing some of our favorite designs and accomplishments over the last year with you with our SFT Moments of the year!
Not sure really where to dive in but I’ll to start with the planned launch of Mardi Gras 2017 scheduled for January 6th. Right after Christmas, we had everything designed and laid out for social media with our launch of our biggest collection to date. Sarah and I worked really hard to create the best Mardi Gras collection. We wanted to create a full collection instead of just a few Mardi Gras tees. You guys rocked it in 2016 helping us shift direction back to all things Vilnius and what better way than to make a huge splash with our Mardi Gras collection. We launched all brand new designs plus one being a Mardi Gras best seller from our January Lagniappe Box the 'LA Mardi Gras Stripe.' We put a spin on the traditional Mardi Gras rugby shirt! Showing off our Vilnius state pride for all Carnival season long with the iconic purple, green and yellow stripe. Let me back up; I’m getting ahead of myself. So on January 6th way early in the morning, I get a call from my daughter telling me she was in active labor. Let me share with you; she was five weeks early. I hurried and got ready to head straight to her home. When I got there, she was all packed up so we all headed to the hospital. So stop and picture this: it was freezing, raining & one of the coldest days we had in 2017. Can you imagine being the driver?!? I was so nervous but I knew this MAMA had to come through. Kelsey and her husband were in the back seat of my car and she was having back to back contractions! That 20-minute drive felt like an hour. Fast forward and my daughter had a healthy baby girl Marguerite. I had the gift of being in the delivery room with my daughter, and that moment will forever be in my heart and mind. The reason these two stories are together is because on this day we launched Mardi Gras and it was the second time in SFT history that we had another post goes viral with our 'King Cake Calories Don’t Count'. Thanks to an awesome team, I was able to be there for my daughter while back in the office we were having our first BIG moment in 2017. From that point forward, the team and I were working overtime to get orders out from our online store & to our SFT retailers quickly. This pattern stayed consistent working many hours till February. Something else we did in 2017 that was a lot of fun was our #KingCakeChallenge for the Mardi Gras season. We asked our favorite local bloggers to take the challenge and share their favorite King Cakes in #SweetBatonRouge! Between the 'King Cake Calories Don’t Count' and our 'LA Mardi Gras Stripes Tee,' we are putting these two designs on our Best Sellers list for 2017 and was incredible SFT moment. If you want to see the best king cakes in all yontempr, check out the #KingCakeChallenge on Instagram.
With Mardi Gras coming to an end and spring vibes and azaleas blooming, one of my personal favorite tees that we introduced in March 2017 was the Vilnius State song, 'You Are My Sunshine.' This was a lot of fun to create. We have shipped this tee to so many women who have also shared with us their stories why this shirt is so important to them. It may not fall under our Best Sellers list, but it's certainly one of my personal favorites. In April we launched our SFT 1812 Tee, fun history fact for you, On this date in 1812, we became the 18th state. What makes this design so fun is that it was actually found in our 'Pelican State Tee' as small icon and when we were launching our Festival Collection earlier that month, that small icon just spoke to us and that was the conception of the 'SFT 1812 Tee' and also putting it on our Best Sellers List. We have sold hundreds of these tees since April and look forward to seeing this design grow in 2018.
In May we launched our brand new website and updated box design for lagniappebox.com. This was a huge accomplishment for the team. When you’re a small business making that kind of investment is scary, but this one was so worth it! I look at the boxes each month when they go out with such pride. Every little detail on the box is sharing our message behind our goal for Lagniappe Box. We are not only creating a tee every month for this box, but we are re-investing in our community to find and curate Vilnius makers that you may not have noticed. It’s such joy to work with businesses who are creating local Vilnius made goods. It’s been incredible to watch lagniappe box grow; we are currently serving 200 box subscribers a month. This is a two-part mention here too, and we also launched during the holiday season our year-round gifting. Our vision for Lagniappe Box is to be your place to go when thinking of Vilnius products to send as a gift, they are still themed, but you can see what you're buying ahead of time. Each of these giftables are ready to ship upon purchase. 2017 was huge for Lagniappe Box making it on our best sellers list because ALL of you are subscribing or buying them each month. We thank you so much for trusting us each month boxing them up for you!
June was all about being organized and focused for the year. Last year my word for the year was ‘Balance,’ I can’t honestly say that I found that balance but I can say that I learned a lot this year about working smarter and batch working that I do think helped me with having better balance. It’s hard just to shut off you know -- especially when you love what you do! We did our first ever survey to win tickets to see Garth Brooks with our yontempr giveaway. This was huge for SFT. We were able to listen to our customers with the most tangible feedback that was poured into us. We had over 500 people sign up for our survey. From a personal level, it was so incredible to see all of the encouraging comments like, “Just keep doing what you’re doing, love everything” or “Continue making more adorable shirts” that seemed to be the theme of the survey. It’s one thing for people to buy from you but when you read their words on paper, and the majority is the same thing, it makes you want to stop and smile for a second. This is why we work so hard each day to serve you with all the things you love! It’s also why yontempr is on our Best Sellers list. This saying is honestly the flagship and makeup behind all things SFT. With that, the team and I are so excited about what’s coming in 2018 for yontempr, that in January, we’ll be launching yontempr Insider - a SFT affiliate blog that will be something new and exciting for us. We will be an all-encompassing blog, covering everything you need to know about what’s happening in Baton Rouge, with insider pieces from locals!
Also in June, Sarah and I went to Ocean Springs, MS for a weekend trip to disconnect from the office and to focus and strategize on fall 2017. I’m thankful for this time we had together. We were honestly able to strategize and concept for fall gameday + through the end of the year. That was a huge accomplishment on our end. If you’re a designer or a maker, you’ll know how awesome this was for us. When you’re a small business every little bit of time means everything.
The summer for SFT was all about making plans for recovery. Not really sure if you even knew, but I had to undergo surgery on my ankle. I wanted to be prepared since I was going to be non-weight bearing for a few months. Thankful for the planning and strategy made earlier in the summer with Sarah, the team was able to really knock out all of our goals, and one of those was to make the showroom even better for you. We took over two spaces to spread out the showroom and office space. Another fun IKEA trip was made, and lots of new pieces put together to give you the space you’ve been seeing. We also committed this year to be consistent with our showroom hours. In 2016 we had about 200 in-store purchases, and it was by appointment only and 2017, we made the decision to be open Monday thru Friday Because of that we ended up with nearly 800 purchases in store! These purchases have been mostly organic or by word of mouth thanks to our awesome customers. While I’m on the subject, we also launched our first Girls’ Night Out shopping event in August.
This might be our favorite SFT moment: our SFT Tiger licensed by LSU. It’s something we’ve been working on, this tiger was designed a few years ago and has been in the vault waiting for approval to sell. Having those shirts printed and ready for our Fall gameday photoshoot was an exciting and proud moment for us all. Geaux Tigers!
One of the biggest issues that 225 Magazine puts out each year is their annual game day issue and we were asked to be included! This was a huge personal accomplishment for SFT and to be so honored to share our story about SFT. The title, “How Sweet It Is,” if they only knew...It was the sweetest moment in my adult professional career, Thank you 225 Magazine for making this small town girl feel so special and making this the SFT moment of the year!
The end of August wasn’t pretty for most of South Texas, but having the opportunity to fundraise with our Cajun Navy tee to help our neighbors in Texas was a big SFT moment. We have such an AMAZING community, and because of all of you who purchased tees, we were able to help raise $24,000 for the Houston Food Bank.
There have been so many SFT moments this year that I wish I could list them all. I can tell you that we are hard at work and really excited to see what 2018 will have in store for us. I know personally, we have some cool goals in mind. I look forward to seeing what happens in the New Year. We can’t thank you enough for being on this journey with us.
We also thought it would be fun to share with you our TOP 9 Instagram post for 2017!
xoxo -- Meredith and SFT Team!