A Reflection of This Year Past:
2019 was a tumultuous year, to say the least. Never before have I experienced such great highs but also great lows all in the same year and pretty much at the same time. It was nerve-wracking yet a blessing at the same time. It taught me many things about myself, about life, about faith, about patience and ultimately about never giving up. This year, I got re-married, had a new son, closed my London business down, facilitated a buyout of my first business partner for another one, came close to bankruptcy and gained a lot of new grey hairs. Many times this year I just felt like saying ‘fuck it’ and really felt like I was losing my passion. And had I not had a family to think of, I probably would have just walked away. But I didn’t. I persevered. I stood strong as Capricorns do. I buckled down and found solutions to all of my problems instead of becoming a victim. And it made me stronger.
You might all be wondering what this is all about so let me explain further.
2018 was a tough year for business. The high of ’16/17 all came down in 2018 as the world of menswear exploded with Instagram and all of these overnight companies peddling copied products at cheaper prices selling naive customers bullshit phrases like ‘no middleman,’ ‘handmade shoes,’ and a plethora of brands all selling the same crap from one Spanish supplier all with different price tags yet being the same products (more on this in 2020), ‘free worldwide shipping for spending $100,’ and discounts galore (my brand included here). All of this made being a company of good, quality product (referencing J.FitzPatrick Footwear here) with a semi-high price tag, barely any free shipping and not being ‘handmade’ (because 99% of brands are NOT), very hard to keep up. I had to work two/three times as hard to get the same results. It was tiring. I let the blog slip again because to be frank, I simply do not have enough time to dedicate to it like I use to. I control 7 emails, 4 Instagram Accounts, a Facebook page, a Pinterest page, a blog and several businesses all at the same time of having to take care of my wife, new to the US and pregnant for most of 2019 and a finally, our newborn son. It was a lot of pressure to say the least. All the while attempting to maintain sanity and passion for what I do.
This is not to mention that I was overseeing two companies on different two continents. And this was really the biggest problem and what was causing me so much stress. Having left London in 2017 to start my US business, I was being pulled in too many directions and London was not able to maintain itself well without my control, which was simply too hard to do from NYC. So it became a huge weight, one that nearly cost my business its life. Along with my sanity. So hard decisions had to be made. My business partner (who lived in London) and I decided to part ways. It was too much. I would never move back there and he would not move to NYC so what was the point? I would spend an hour (at least) of nearly every morning dealing with issues in London. And the stress caused us to bicker a lot. And this bothered me. It was time-wasting and draining and I hate to feel like I am not moving forward. So I had to do something. I found a customer of ours that wanted to get involved and he bought out my previous business partner and along with it, helped the majority of our problems (mainly financial) all disappear. But it really all came down to the wire. This is where my faith was tested, but I stood strong and in the end and was blessed by God, allowing all of the pieces of the puzzle fall together at the perfect timing in the perfect manner.
Those were the lows….now here are the highs
When I moved back to NYC, in 2017, I re-connected with someone special to me from the Dominican Republic. For those that do not know, I have a long history there. I worked there when I was 21 for a resort that my father used to do business with. And then would return every Summer for 2-3 weeks to spend time with my friends. So, when I went back, we connected immediately and we got engaged last year and I brought her over to NYC a few months back. We recently married and had our son. And while this was a great high, it was also stressful. The travel back and forth, the lawyers, the paperwork, the visa process etc. It’s difficult. For those of you that have been through it, you will know what I am talking about. But it’s over. I have her here now, we have our son and life is good. I couldn’t be happier and feel more blessed, mainly as all of my loved ones are healthy and happy and this is all that matters.
The blessing in disguise of the buyout was the financial relief that it provided to the US business. And the ability for my business to get to the next level now. And in 2020, we have huge plans. I am going to back to my roots of being more bold, more daring and really differentiating the JF line from the rest. But on top of that, offering a new line added. An entry-level shoe line. Shoes starting at $250, for all of the classic models. A chance to truly capture more of the world and provide a stepping stone into good footwear. This is coming soon. As well as a real NYC presence with a street-level shop. It’s all happening. So keep an eye out. 2020 will be a very exciting year. I know in my bones that all of my hard work will finally pay off. I see that and believe it.
And thanks to all of you reading for your continued support in The Shoe Snob, in my adventure, my struggles, my life. Your support means a lot to me. Truly.
I wish everyone a very very beautiful New Year’s celebration with their loved ones and an amazing 2020, filled with health and happiness.