2021 was a busy year for all of us. As a way to better understand what was learned and accomplished, we took a few hours to highlight some of our best memories and biggest learnings.
This journey was not just ours. It was shared among our friends, our families, and our customers. We hope you'll take a few minutes to read through our 2021 Review, and we encourage you to recap your own accomplishments and learnings!
In June, we traveled to Honduras to distribute journals to students and see the work that The Foundation for Education in Honduras has been able to accomplish. This was an incredible moment for us personally, as it gave us such a greater sense of perspective, but it was also a great moment for our business, as it reinforced our commitment to doing some good in the world through our Scribes for Students mission.
One way we measure our success is by determining 'how many balls we have in the air.' If things are slow, and we are relying on the sales of a single product or we are only acquiring customers through a single channel or ad, we know that whatever growth we are experiencing isn't very sustainable. We need to have many balls in the air, and we need to do our best to make sure each one of them is getting the attention it deserves.
At the beginning of this year, an overwhelming majority of our revenue was coming from just 1-2 channels and 1-2 products. January and February of 2021 were great. In fact, our revenue was nearly double what we expected it to be because of the success of these two campaigns. However, when things started to taper off, and these two campaigns started to lose steam, we were stuck in the mud and we realized that the success of these two initiatives had made us complacent when it came to planning for the future.
It all came to a head in February, when we realized that we didn't have a plan for growing The Scribes, and even if we did, it would have been impossible because we were flat out of inventory.
At that moment, we forced ourselves to think outside of the box and we began to think more long term. We committed to growing our product line. We committed to growth-by-partnership. We committed to a more diverse marketing agenda. And most importantly, we committed to engaging with our community and building based on feedback.
As a result, we spent the next few months collaborating with the likes of Cisco Brewery, Whalebone Magazine, The Starting Small Podcast, The Strand Bookstore, and so many more. These partnerships have been incredibly worthwhile and incredibly fun.
In summary, our learning is this:
One dimensional doesn't work for us. And not just because it eventually goes away, but because it shrinks your scope of thought. Keep a lot of balls in the air.
January: After months of working from home and fulfilling orders from my bedroom, we got our first office!
February: As mentioned earlier, we were totally out of inventory in February. Instead of throwing in the towel, we brainstormed ideas of what we could personally make ourselves, and we released a line of Prints. This incredible work by Alden Bohrmann sustained us in the month of February and reinvigorated our collective creativity. Who knew we'd be into wall art?
March: On March 25, we received our long-awaited inventory shipment and we had officially more inventory than office space.
April: This month, we kicked off our partnership with Whalebone Magazine with a feature in their Weather Edition and placement in their two retail stores.
May: As a way to spice things up on social media and promote our new product line, we kicked off our NYC Comeback Campaign, where for 21 straight days, we took a picture at an iconic location in New York City (Scribe in hand) and explained it's significance. All in the name of promoting New York City, a city that rebounded like no other following the pandemic.
June: Our trip to Honduras, where we donated 3,000 notebooks to students all across the country.
July: We got to see our products on display at the happiest place on earth - Cisco Brewery, ACK. This partnership also gave us the opportunity to donate supplies to all of the teachers on the island.
August: In August, we teamed up with singer / songwriter Lucy Dacus to create custom journals for her world tour. This reel is the closest to 'viral' we've ever been.
September: In September, we got to design GOOD journals with our friends from GoodMrkt / Vera Bradley. Being featured in their two stores, alongside so many brands on a mission to do some good has been truly incredible.
October: In October, we were interviewed on The Starting Small Podcast, a podcast we've learned a lot from. If you a fan of entrepreneurship and storytelling, check it out on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. You can grab one of The Starting Small Scribes, too.
November: Intern month! Let us highlight Portia Inzone and Samantha Whitaker (who we brought on in November). It was Portia's idea to release a collection of neutrals, which lead to The Scribe in Tan and Peach.
December: Besides writing this email (which has actually been a super fun way to reflect); we had two big moments in December that we'd like to highlight. The first was our partnership with The Strand Bookstore in which we created this Manhattan-themed journal. Secondly, December became a month where we were able to donate 500-600 journals to students right here in New York City. We can't think of a better way to end the year than by serving incredible teachers and non-profits that make lives better.