Free Shipping and returns on all orders in north america

A Look Back And Ahead, 2017-2018

December 31, 2017 7 Comments

A Look Back And Ahead, 2017-2018

What's in a year?  

I cannot help but notice the imbalance on friends' social media posts describing 2017 as a bad year versus a good one, and on the surface I get it.  Politics, media, disasters and more filled our brains with confusion and our hearts with discouragement.  I believe that even though the thought of ridding ourselves of 2017 sounds pessimistic, the underlying hope is being optimistic for a more productive and successful 2018.  But I'd like to take this below the surface and analyze my own view on 2017 and how I believe difficult times can be incredible gifts (sips wine).

1st Quarter January - March

January is always a tough one for retail and in 2017 it was no different.  Although it follows the Christmas boom, it is the single lowest month for sales of all 12 months in the year.  We brace ourselves for a considerable loss and the hope is that whatever we gained in November/December can cover the losses in January/February.  Our spring season in New Orleans begins the weekend after Mardi Gras and until then, business is painfully slow.  2017 Mardi Gras was one of the latest in QUEORK's existence and so the start of the year was painful indeed (sips wine)!   The good news was that our bank had noticed our success and approached us with an offer for a Small Business loan to take the sting out of the seasonal nature of the retail business.  The bad news was that SBA loans require an incredible amount of work and documentation (at one point a nurse came and actually drew blood for a required life insurance policy to payoff the loan should one of the partners die).  In the end, it took about six months to fund a loan that at best, made us comfortable with our debt!  

2nd Quarter April - June

April and May are the highest months for sales in our company in the year and knowing this helped me finally make the decision to hire a sales manager to help invigorate the staff and bring inspiration to the sales team that I was too often ignoring as I became spread more thin due to our growth.  In turn, she restructured and hired management for the stores to help with the accountability.  There is nothing more important to me than my employees and bringing in management meant change, and change is tough.   I was surprised to see as much resistance at the time but I truly believe that things will work out the way they are suppose to and in the end I could not ask for a better team than what we have today.  By June, our stores in New Orleans were blowing away the numbers from the previous year and continued this path to the end of 2017 with no signs of slowing down in 2018 (large gulp after I raise my glass)! 

 3rd Quarter July - September

Our beautiful dog and inspiration for QUEORK, Wally, passed away in early July due to cancer.  This became a time for reflection and meaning to me and as always, Wally showed me what I desperately needed to be right then...vulnerable.  To be vulnerable is to be authentic and is truly the only way to be connected with others.  I began studying business leadership, accounting and took every class offered and read every book available, sometimes twice.  I found peers, amazing mentors, and asked them as many questions as they could answer.  I took a chance and told our story and what came of that is ongoing and our best kept secret to share when the time comes in 2018 (refills glass and toasts to Wally)!  

4th Quarter October - December

'Tis the season, and for the first time in a long time we were ready!  I successfully took out and repaid a line of credit.  We restocked shoes for the first time in a year and nailed the preorder styles such that two styles sold out before delivery!  We had by far, the highest volume of Holiday sales to date.  Our sales team is happy and healthy and kicking ass, we doubled our manufacturing space in October & the talent from our manufacturing team is off the charts - at the beginning of 2016, not one person who makes our products in New Orleans even knew how to sew!  

So, (sips wine) let me bring this back full circle before the wine starts talking! 

1st Quarter 2017 is the reason I spent two days last week writing our projections and budget for 1st Quarter 2018.  Every dollar is accounted for.  As much as I hated it at the time, that benchmark brought out the very capable accountant in me!  

In the 2nd Quarter I let go of my control and tradition of unstructured "mom and pop" non-management.  In time, it served us well and has become an aspiration for each new employee to become the best they can, lead by example, and serve others.  

Quarter 3 helped me realize the power and importance of vulnerability.  It is a space that allows grace to guide us back to our true paths when we are lost.  (Another toast to Wally)

And finally Q4.  On the surface it was a success, but only because of all the non successes in our past.

Every failure is simply a benchmark that decides what we have learned and where we need to learn more.  In a year we have difficulty for sure, but each year makes us stronger, wiser and all the better for it.  I would not want it any other way!

Cheers to 2017 (sips champagne) and glasses high to a challenging, relentless, educational and vulnerable 2018!  

With Love, 

Amanda

The Queen of Cork





7 Responses

Lorna
Lorna

January 03, 2018

What a wonder accounting and reflection on 2017! May 2018 bring you much happiness and success! As a visitor to your Magazine Str. store last spring, I loved your products and bought 3 Christmas gifts online. I will continue to support your establishment, visiting your store again on my next NOLA trip!
Happy New Year!
Lorna from South Carolina

Martha McKee
Martha McKee

January 01, 2018

Amanda!
Thank you for sharing your 2017 in review. I can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring for the Queen of Cork and Queork!! Like fine wine, your wonderful cork products get better and more mellow with age, and I look forward to “collecting” more of them as the years go on!!
Wishing you and your amazing staff the Happiest of New Years!
Martha

RRT
RRT

January 01, 2018

I carried my adorable round Queork purse (can’t remember the name -oops) last night for new year’s and it was a great little purse to have to ring in 2018!!

Kara Hastings
Kara Hastings

January 01, 2018

Good luck for 2018! I got the Bon Temps bag and iPhone 7 wristlet for Christmas and I am loving them. I plan on making more purchases as the years go on. Keep it up!

Melanie Fernandez
Melanie Fernandez

January 01, 2018

I love your product and the concept of your company. I bought my first item from your store on Magazine Street in October as a birthday present to myself. I have used the cross body 2 sized handbag every day since then. It is so durable and convenient. It is the perfect size for shopping and running errands. Your analysis of the old and new year is very thought provoking as we tend to forget these precepts and need to be reminded often. The staff at the Magazine store are wonderful, helpful and informative. I enjoy visiting it and plan to continue to do so for more unique gift ideas in the future. I hope 2018 is a wonderfully successful year for your business. Cheers.

Diane   Ste. Marie
Diane Ste. Marie

January 01, 2018

I so appreciate your right on thoughts re the gift of learning from what doesn’t work, our mistakes, things that happen over which we have no control—like the slow months after the holidays…, the list goes on. In my case two strokes (on the minor side, but strokes) had one of quite a few positives, and that is that I was in physical therapy (and still do PT exercises regularly). While “there” I complained about an arthritic left knee, an inability get down on the floor and get up, and especially to squat, extremely useful picking up something on the floor. So I got an exercise of 3 sets of 5 squats 3x a week. A year passed of faithful squatting, but seemingly got me no closer to the floor, then suddenly, I started going down lower, and lower. Today I’m more flexible than I have been in years, and move in ways I never thought possible any more at 78! What a gift.

In Santa Fe last March, I discovered your store and bought a billfold of the size and amenities I had searched for in vain. All the time people comment on the beauty of the billfold. I’ve never had something before that is regularly complimented on for its beauty, serves my needs, and of course I share my discovery of Queork.

Diane Shaw
Diane Shaw

January 01, 2018

A very thorough and clear analysis of your last year. I became aware of your products—I think they are fabulous!— when my granddaughter Ashlyn Dillard worked for you in Florida summer of 2016. And I am a friend of Kim Mccubbin. Your product is fantastic!! I don’t know much about developing and managing a business, but I am an experienced shopper! I just bought a pair of the loafers in Santa Fe. Fabulous look!! Nice store, by the way, and nice adds in the local magazine. So I now have —three handbags, two pair of shoes and a visor. Ashlyn’s Mother, my daughter, has sandals two handbags, and boots. Everyone raves about them!
I think you just have not been discovered! And using cork for upholstery is so interesting! Dining chairs? Is it easy to clean and stain resistant? Have you tried marketing to furniture designers? How durable is the cork upholstery?
So interesting!! Hand in there! I think you are on to something promising! Good luck! I know business is very complicated and takes time!

Leave a comment