2022 was a rollercoaster of a year! There were so many highs and lows that it was hard to make sense of it all. A lot of lessons were learned and ultimately a positive outlook on the future was gained based on what I experienced in 2022 and all that it made me realize. It helped to further ground me as well as make me gain my focus again on what is truly important, not only in life but in business, as well as taking care of oneself. And ultimately the adversity of the year is what provided me these positive realizations as one is often forced to look at themselves and see how one can improve when faced with adversity. That is, of course, if they actually want to.
As my life is split between this blog and my shoe company, J.FitzPatrick Footwear, I thought that I would separate the two in subject to discuss the year behind and the new year ahead for both avenues
It was a frustrating year for the blog. Last year (2021), I revamped its look and since that day, it has caused me more stress, time, and money than you can imagine. Some of you might have noticed it with downtime, the site being slow, the site not working, posts not looking right, photos being blurry etc. There is a reason you pay top dollar to redesign a site. Because while the look to the reader is one thing, the back end is a whole other beast. And since stress is something that I want to avoid, I decided to redesign it yet again, but this time with a very highly recommended designer, who comes with a price tag to match. It is probably going to be the most expensive thing I have ever purchased outside of my car. But, hopefully, in the end, will be worth it as I elevate my content, its look, and the site’s performance, not only on desktop but also heavily focused on mobile.
This plan is scheduled for Jan/Feb and is a two-month process so hopefully, in Q2, I will have a brand new look, feel, and elevated performance. To be honest, I never gave the blog as much attention as it deserved, mainly as all of my time was dedicated to building my shoe brand, but I finally want to be able to give this site that I have put ⅓ of my life into some actual care and love. And like when paid off my car, and finally owned it outright I am quite excited for this to be done and take my blog to the next level!
Being that the world has greatly moved towards video, I am trying to juggle getting better at that while maintaining the essence of an online periodical in written form. So, I will also be incorporating more videos into the blog too, especially as I get better at editing them to actually make them somewhat professional looking!
My Shoe Brand – J.FitzPatrick Footwear
Well, needless to say, the last 3 years have been tough for all small businesses. But my shoe brand, J.FitzPatrick Footwear, is still here and in reality has seen back-to-back yearly growth. So, at the end of the day, I cannot complain. But it wasn’t easy to get there and the stress level of the uncertainty of sales, the rise of import taxation on anyone outside of the US importing our shoes, and most of all the absolute destruction of the supply chain process and the havoc that it has wreaked had made 2022 a real rollercoaster of a year. In the first half of the year, business was booming! It was a revival of shopping. We were on track for a 25%-30% increase over 2021, which is huge. Month after month it was the same until June rolled around, the gas prices shot up and life became a lot more uncertain for everyone.
On top of that uncertainty, 2022 brought a complete change in the way that suppliers do business. No one from the factory to the tannery, to probably even the rawhide producers want to carry stock anymore. That means, when I order, the factory orders to the tannery (as opposed to before when they held much larger quantities of leather stock), and then the tannery produces it. So, for me to get the shoes, I have to wait for the tannery to produce the leather, then supply it to my factory to then start making the shoes. For those of you that know about these things, it is not the way it should be.
The worst though is how importation tax has skyrocketed for Europeans, especially. And it is mainly in fees and not the actual tax. Fees on top of fees have created a beyond-silly markup for anyone to import shoes from the US. A $500 shoe turns into an $800 shoe after the customs department has its way with it. Even worse is when the customer assumes that you are the one gaining from that insane taxation. And many do, instead of realizing that it has nothing to do with the company and is actually collusion between the courier and the tax man.
So, what will 2023 bring to combat these things? Well, combatting them all is difficult so we are working on a few things to at least help with some of the problems, as well as finding new ways to grow/entice new clients. Let’s look at those:
- PrePay customs on the site with a guarantee of no further costs – We are working with a company that is going to allow the customer to pay the duties directly and thus avoid all fees that the courier imposes. And that will mean that once you pay on the site, the shoes will simply arrive without any more payments to be made. This is hopefully taking place very soon.
- Introducing a new handwelted line – We are currently in the start of making samples for an upcoming handwelted range. This will start off as GMTO runs to test the success of them and if it takes off, will think about making it a regular collection in the company. I am very excited to see how this comes out and hope that you are too.
- This might not happen in 2023, but my goal is European expansion via a warehouse and distribution out of Spain. We are working on acquiring an EU business license, which has turned out to be a very long process. This will allow us to serve our EU clients direct and if we have someone that works closely with the factory, also help to make our production more efficient. This is a major goal of mine and would take our brand to the next level. Will probably need to look for investment for this route as this will essentially mean doubling our stock take for the EU market, as well as hiring employees and a location. If any of you reading are looking to make an investment into that type of business, let me know!
Well, 2022 brought on a lot of soul-searching to help make me realize what is truly important in life which has also helped to fuel my fire in business as I realize that I don’t want to be in the rat race my entire life. Nor even living in a major city for that matter or that close to one. So I will put another 5-year plan together for my life to find myself living more in nature, less in the hustle and bustle of the urban city dwellings, and to be closer to my family (I have two sisters) that I have been so far away from for so long now. I feel that in doing so, I will become the best of me which will make me the best businessman, manager, creator, and overall human being that I can be. That is my goal.
On top of that, I am in the very beginning to write a book about my life and story from Nordstrom shoe salesman to who I am today. It might seem pompous to some, but it was always my goal to inspire others to believe in themselves in knowing that anyone can become who they want to be when they put their mind, heart, and soul into it. Not sure how long that will take but I will make it my goal to have it done in 2023!
There are many more personal goals that tie into the blog and company but too many to name!
Wishing everyone an amazing New Year celebration and a positive 2023 for all!
Thank you all as always for supporting my vision and showing up to make me know that. I owe it all to all of you!