My Top 10 highlights for 2022
2022 is coming to a close and I've been reflecting on what a fabulous, interesting, satisfying and sometimes challenging year it has been at The Shoe Garden. Here are my highlights, in no particular order:
#1: Celebrating 10 years in business in April at a party with gorgeous customers, suppliers, peers and friends was a magical time. The afternoon is a happy blur, but I do remember lots of smiling faces ... and gorgeous shoes, of course! I still can't believe I've been a proud shoe shop owner for a decade!
#2: Starting my Pre-Loved range in May for a three-month trial and quickly realising after only one month that it would be here to stay! I've sold nearly 500 pairs of shoes since then on behalf of lovely customers to other lovely customers, keeping shoes out of storage or from being lost in wardrobes or ending up in landfill and, instead, staying on lovely long feet where they belong.
#3: Being inspired by my Pre-Loved range to organise a one-off Pop Up for Pre-Loved clothing and fashion accessories. Oh my, it was fun and successful but a lot more work than I thought. Oops! But best of all, most of the items that didn't sell were donated to either Suited to Success or Formally Ever After, two charities I have come to adore.
#4: Speaking of charities, topping $50,000 in donations to the incredible MicroLoan Foundation Australia was a huge milestone for me. Having seen firsthand the amazing work of this charity, who provide small loans and business training to women in regional Africa so they, too, can start their own small business, I am so proud to support them. As I type this, my donation stands at $53,727.10. Yay!
#5: In August I made the decision to invest in myself and started working with the super talented and incredible Merrill Allen from Unlocking Retail. She has become a valued and inspiring mentor, teaching me so much and revolutionising the way I buy and manage my stock. Knowledge really is power!
#6: The Shoe Garden was a finalist in two awards this year, one national and one local. We didn't win, but geez it was nice to be a finalist and voted for. I truly felt the love.
#7: This year, I had some suppliers ask my opinions on shoes and I loved giving feedback on behalf of my gorgeous customers. I'm finding my voice with a decade of experience now under my heels and continue to agitate for more longer sizes in more styles from more brands.
#8: I'm closing the year with two beautiful staff, Cherie and Sam, who also happen to be life-long friends. I've known Cherie since she was a customer on my opening weekend 10 years ago and Sam since we were both young journalists working for the Gold Coast Bulletin some 34 years ago. Eek, can it really be that long ago?! Both women are extraordinarily kind, loyal and take care of my precious Shoe Garden as if it were theirs. I love them for that.
#9: Darling Princess definitely deserves a mention. She had big (or should that be long?) paws to fill, having lost my beautiful CC in October last year. She has found her way into my heart and I adore her. Given she's a rescue pup with high anxiety, it has taken time to make her feel safe and secure. While she still barks at the first few customers of the day (I swear she thinks you are all just coming in to see her!), she'll soon go back to her pink fluffy bed and snooze the afternoon away, always keeping one eye on me to make sure I'm close.
#10: And finally, a highlight that never fades, never loses its joy, is meeting new, or catching up with old, customers each and every day. I've shared stories and laughter and tears and solved the world's problems with many. I've helped find shoes for weddings and new jobs and overseas adventures and milestone birthdays. I've helped some clear out their wardrobes and make some extra money or get Shoe Garden credit for their pre-loved shoes. Each and every customer is so special and so appreciated and I thank you with all my heart for supporting my small business.
Wishing you all a beautiful Christmas and a magical New Year. Here's to making more memories and highlights in 2023.