Jan 06, 2023
Phew, we all made it huh? I haven’t heard a single person say they were sad to see this year end, so I’m assuming most of you reading this might feel the same. If you’ve followed along with us on this crazy journey for the past 12 years, you’re probably used to my end-of-year LAE (long a** email), but this year I think I may set a record for the shortest one ever. And the most positive one in at least the last few years which is shocking because, well, you all know what things are like out there right now, and it’s the same for us here too. Inflation, supply chain issues, surcharges that come with their own set of surcharges, blah blah blah…
It’s easy to get bogged down by it all and, if I’m going to keep it 100% real with you all, (which I am because you know I have no ability not to), there were times that I thought this year might finally break me. Especially since all signs are currently pointing to none of this letting up in 2023. All this to say, when I sat down to start writing this little year-end tradition of mine, I was expecting a 5,000-word essay on all the ways 2022 was a downright, no good, terrible year. But, when I put pen to paper - or really, fingertips to keyboard - that wasn’t what ended up on the page.
Because while yes, 2022 was hard, it also provided something that two years before did not - and that’s a clear indicator of what lies ahead. I know, right? It feels a little salt in the wound to say that a road map that only reveals that there are still a thousand miles of bad roads in front of you feels revelatory, but for me, that clarity is pretty much everything.
Thinking back to when this pandemic started in 2020, or when it started to feel like maybe we had it figured out in 2021, things felt about as clear as mud. Most weeks felt like punch after punch after punch - and they were sucker punches, at that. We had to adapt almost daily while sprinting towards goals that we couldn’t afford the luxury of time to think on for longer than the time it took to decide that was the direction we needed to head. And all of this while it felt like we had our hands tied behind our backs by the news of yet another variant or a wave of ominous headlines.
And then, amidst the confusion, and the millionth pivot (I’m officially retiring that word this year), 2022 gave me a gift: the foresight to know that more hard stuff is coming. Again, I know. It’s not shiny or particularly heartwarming or even wrapped up with a bow. And still, it’s something I treasure just the same because it’s allowed me to hang my hope up (just for now) and focus on what I need to get through this next part - and that’s grit. Because when the road ahead isn’t paved in gold and lined with unicorns doing backflips into cotton candy clouds, it’s determination, not a daydream of a better day, that helps me to proactively make the decisions I need to to get myself and Farmgirl through the rough stuff.
I know that all sounds a little like a motivational poster from a counselor’s office (with a kitten on it, to boot), but it’s where I’m at right now. We just weathered an extremely challenging year and already know, even before it begins, that 2023 is going to be just as hard - if not harder. And while there’s a natural anxiety that comes with leading a company through an economic downturn (is that what we’re still calling it?) I’m also a little excited about what this year is going to bring. I know that, at minimum, it will teach me and the whole Farmgirl team more than we can imagine right now. And that once we come out on the other side we’ll be even stronger and more agile than when we started.
Something else I know? After twelve are-we-maybe-being-punked-right-now hard years of bootstrapping this business, we definitely have the strength to get through this. Having the insight of what’s ahead (see, thanks 2022!) also gave us the gift of a head start, so we’re already working on some exciting, ambitious, capital B b-i-g goals for this year that will help make crossing the finish line next December feel all the more triumphant. And that feeling of go, go, go - of not waiting for the bad stuff to get to you but running right into its mouth/jaws/arms/other scary anthropomorphization of fear of your choice, is what helps me sleep, instead of keeping me up, on the hard nights. The DNA of Farmgirl is part burlap, yes, but also innovation, rolled-up shirt sleeves and dirty hands, and the sort of exhilarated weariness that only comes from swinging for the fences.
Someone asked me a while back what my superpower was – how I could continue to get up over and over again when I have about as many obstacles as cups of coffee on any given day. And when I say obstacles I’m not talking speed bumps, I’m talking sinkholes that open up in the middle of your street overnight (but more on those another time). I talk a lot about how (IMO) resilience is the secret sauce to successful entrepreneurs - and people really. But where does that come from?
For me, at least, it’s the simple fact that I have always believed in myself, even when (and probably, especially when) no one else did. Case in point: growing up in a tiny, two-stoplight town in northern Indiana, I was the kid everyone made fun of. I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say I was neither popular enough to make it on the homecoming court nor the type of underdog that had a made-for-Netflix come up, either. I remember one day being relentlessly ridiculed after I shared my plans to move to NYC after graduation senior year. Everyone thought I was, what do the kids call it now, flexing?
But their laughter, and especially their doubt, served to fuel the fire I’d been tending ever since I figured out I wanted to know what the world looked like beyond that second stoplight. I worked simultaneous part-time jobs at Mcdonald's, Burger King, AND Arby’s before and after school and every weekend to save enough money so that, sure enough, two weeks after I flipped my tassel over my cap at graduation I packed my bags and moved to the crazy, amazing, city I had dreamed about, but never actually seen.
And there was that one time I told my still, to this day, favorite flower farmer (and one of my favorite people in general) my plan to start a business that would change the way people purchased flowers online - with fewer, better options and daily arrangements filled the best of the best from the best of the best growers. He just laughed and laughed and said it was a nice idea but would never, ever work. We still laugh about that conversation now, but that “crazy” idea I had? It turned twelve this year. And shipped one of those daily arrangements to hundreds of thousands of recipients across the U.S.
I know this year is probably going to be tough for just about everyone. From the giantest of giant of companies to the small businesses that you drive by every day in your own town, everyone is feeling “it.” And while it’s scary and terrifying and on some days downright paralyzing, with a little of that same fire and the foresight to know that there are gonna be some bumps ahead, we’ll all get through it. It’s easy to think about bravery being some act of valor on a battlefield, or a championship game won right as the buzzer sounds, but for so many of us, it is so much “smaller” than that. Sometimes it’s as small as a misfit making a silent promise to herself to make it to a city she’s only ever read about in magazines she pilfered from her public library. But big, or small, spoken out loud or just whispered to yourself when you’re all alone, believing in yourself is what keeps you putting one foot in front of the other until that rough stuff is finally in the rearview mirror.
And finally, to all of you who have supported us with your dollars, your words of encouragement, or the chance you took on the up-and-coming flower startup back when I was making bouquets out of my Van Ness St. apartment, thank you. Thank you for also believing in this dream that Team Farmgirl and I have bootstrapped for the past twelve years. Even and especially during the worst of times, you all are truly the reason Farmgirl is still here. So if/when you hit a speedbump of your own this year, I hope this helps remind you that you’ve already got exactly what it takes to get to the other side.
Well, I might have been a little premature when I said this was going to be the shortest end-of-year email yet, but that’s probably not any more surprising to you then it is to me. And before I wrap up, I just have to say thank you all, so, so much for your continued support once again. I will never not be blown away by how many of you have been with us for so many years, cheering us along from the sidelines and making Farmgirl a part of some of your biggest moments. Thank you from the very bottom of my (and our entire team’s) heart!
With so much gratitude,
Christina & the Farmgirl Team