It's that time of year where we look over our shoulder and reflect on what has been, before we look ahead to the next. For Gather&See it has most definitely been a year of transition. We have grown our brand offering, our customer base and past that dreaded 2 year milestone that is a test for any small business. To think that this coming season will be our 7th is both terrifying and exciting in equal measures. 2016 has been a funny old year; it is what we take from it and how we respond that matters now. I hope that by looking back with the benefit of hindsight we can act positively to build on our successes and learn from our struggles to make for a good 2017.
A massive positive in 2016 for us has been the discovery of some amazing new brands. It is one of the most rewarding part of our job - finding brands that we know our customers will love. That pang of excitement when you see a great product with a strong ethical story to back it up is hard to beat. We have brought on brands including MUD Jeans, Ally Bee, P.i.C Style, D:Efect, Conditions Apply, Tinsels and Barocco this year and look forward to adding to this list in the New Year. Building strong relationships with our brands is part of the lifeblood of G&S and it has been a pleasure working with each and everyone of these talented teams. Watch this space for exciting new additions in 2016.
Collaboration has been an ongoing theme for 2016. As we have grown and developed we were lucky enough this year to work on some fantastic partnerships with organisations, bloggers and like minded brands such as South East London Makers Club, Pexmas, Atelier Tammam, Peckham Mamma, Xochi Balfour, Jasmine Hemsley and Brothers We Stand to name just a few. In December we teamed up for the first time with Help Refugees by stocking their Choose Love T-shirts and sweatshirts as part of our Gift of Goodness campaign. The response from you, our customers, was immense. The support of the Help Refugees campaign showed to us what we already knew - that our G&S community shares the same values of fairness, equality and inclusivity that Gather&See is founded on. That will be a source of strength and inspiration for us throughout 2017 and beyond. With the uncertainty that 2016 has thrown our way we will definitely need it.
Aspects of 2016 have without doubt been frustrating if not downright scary. As a small business that has has such a specific set of values at it's core the Brexit vote and the Trump victory, not to mention the continued persecution of refugees and rise of xenophobia in Europe has been very hard to take. The week after the US election I wrote "Everything we stand up for is at best being undermined at worst is under attack. Worse still that attack has essentially been sanctioned by the US electorate. It is the same sad feeling I felt the morning after Brexit, the same sad feeling I feel every time I read a hate-filled, xenophobic headline in the UK press or listen to a pundit belittling the importance of climate change on the radio." A couple of months later and I can see we need to take a more positive stance. Now more than ever it is vital that we fight for change within the fashion industry, we need to use the events of the past year to shout even louder and work even harder.
We are constantly learning in this game. From a personal point of view I have had to figure out a way to juggle my real baby and my work baby. That has been harder than I ever could have imagined and it has taken most of the year to find some resemblance of balance. Meanwhile Steph has had to cope with a semi-comatose business partner for much of the year and her patience and motivation has constantly reminded me of how lucky I am to be on this journey with such remarkable friend. Teamwork and a genuine passion for what we do and the changes we want to see are key to how we operate and these aspects will keep us going as we face new, exciting challenges in 2017. I have to say, excitement is the main sentiment I feel for the coming year, in spite of everything. We have some momentum, we have some hugely exciting plans, not to mention downright beautiful pieces coming your way and there is a definite sense good things ahead.
And with that the final thing to say is the most important thing of all. A very big thank you. Gather&See is its customers, it is its brands - we are a community built on shared love of fashion and a belief in ethical production and positive change. The change can't happen without you - thank you for helping in 2016 and here's to looking forward to 2017!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Alicia and Steph