Reflection on 2021 and Planning for 2022
First of all, thank you for being such a HUGE part of our 2021. It was a challenging year for me in many ways - but it was ALWAYS made better by this little community.
Did 2021 seem chaotic to anyone else? Maybe just me! I had the opportunity to collaborate with some of my favorite people - and it turns out, I have about 2938472938 favorite people. There were so many ideas, tests, launches, and let’s be real - with the supply chain issues - there wasn’t always a lot of time (sorry to everyone, and ESPECIALLY the amazing team who poured their entire hearts into every project despite the chaos).
We also grew QUITE a bit, and this means my once, tiny, one person shop, turned into an actual (mostly) functioning small business (WHO KNEW?!). I want to start introducing the team more - because I CERTAINLY could not have done it without them. This small crew is some of the best in the world. With the biggest hearts, who all have a serious passion for mental wellness. We’ve talked SO MUCH over the past year on ways to drive our mission home, and I’m so excited to show you what 2022 is going to look like.
One of the things that have really impacted me, my team and I know for certain you in our community has been the increases and unpredictability of shipping around the globe. Its why we have become really intentional with international shipping. Some countries you would have noticed are currently on the "no fly" list, we will continue to assess those on a monthly basis and remove them if we are able to ship there again. I am also actively looking for international solutions that can help with this issue.
For the benefit of the employees, the community, and honestly - MYSELF - we’re going to have a much more PREDICTABLE year. But the #1 thing we are all so excited about is really spending time focusing on our mission of Improving Mental Wellness Through Creativity. What does that mean for 2022?
#1 - Predictable Launches! - EVERYONE is excited about this one. It gives us more time to create intentional launches and prepare the community so there’s no last min panicking or waking up at 3AM (I’m seriously flattered - but sleep is so necessary for mental health)! I can’t promise when we will run out - only because who can REALLY tell - but we have spent a LOT of time analyzing data over the past year, and plan on ordering enough for everyone. I hope this creates less of a panic feeling in the community and more intentional purchasing. So you are in the loop - we will continue to have our two main Spring and Fall launches (with even more awesome items like matching stickers, pens, and more) and two mini summer and winter launches. We are also moving to a “When it’s out of stock, it’s out.” model. This is NOT to cause panic, but to reduce our carbon footprint. There should be enough inventory to have the items last at least a complete season, so you still have plenty of time to make the decision if you want to purchase an item. We’ll also bring back some of the favorite designs at the end of the year, for a second chance :-). We’re ALWAYS learning as we go - so we’ll see how this works and adjust if something doesn’t. As much as we want to provide dates up front (and WILL get better in 2022) supply chain wrecked us in 2021 - and will likely continue to in 2022 - though ordering much further in advance will help a LOT in launch dates.
#2 - Continuing on with the subscription boxes (yay!) because those have been a big hit and probably one of my favorite things. We do want to start showing MORE of the items before the box ships (in ways that you only have to see them if you WANT to) while taking in feedback from past launches on what the majority like and don’t. I know not everyone is going to be 100% happy every time, but I do hope each box is able to bring some joy <3. This is our opportunity to test new items, ideas, and continue to bring all types of creativity into the work to challenge those to get creative even when it’s something they may not have originally used or tried.
Monthly Themed Boxes
#3 - MONTHLY THEME BOXES each month because creativity is for EVERYONE!! What comes in a theme box? The supplies you need to get creative, even if you’re not “creative”. Stickers, Washi, stencils, die cut stickers, and sticker rolls (no notebook in these boxes). Everything you need to get creative when you’re limited with time, or don’t have the time to paint/draw but still want to exercise your creative muscle. There’s something incredibly satisfying (and beneficial) about peeling stickers, cutting washi tape, and making the creative decision on where everything goes. It’s our way of inviting those with different types of talent into the community. There will be two options each month - a holiday or themed box and one that is strictly floral (as I know everyone has a different relationship with certain holidays and I want everyone to have an option). These are NOT a subscription box, and you will get to see all the items BEFORE making the decision to purchase or not. We’re also keeping these at a lower price point :-) (and still at a great discount).
#4 - Collaborations - You will still see collaborations with amazing artists! While I’m excited to work with all different types of artists, I want to focus on highlighting artists in under represented communities - who also create art with purpose. With each collaboration we donate to a non profit of the artists choice. It’s been one of my favorite things we’ve gotten to do in 2021 and I’m excited for this to continue.
Holiday or Special Boxes
#5 - Holiday Boxes - HOORAY! These will continue to be on the list as they’re a ton of fun, and ways to focus on creativity while adding a bit of joy into the lives of yourself or others.
Highlighting My Team
#6 - Giving myself a break and highlighting the awesome hearts that make up A&O. If you haven’t noticed the A&O main instagram feed (social media in general) has changed a bit in the past few months. Why? I simply cannot keep up with creating content, running a business, being a mom, a good partner, friend, family member, etc. It doesn’t mean I’m completely disappearing! I’ll still be on there ALL the time, but it’s time to let the team step into the spotlight as well as the amazingly talented design team. P.S. I’m opening up my PERSONAL Instagram (GASP) If you want to follow along on the day to day in MY life. It’s @beee_kuhl. I’ll be highlighting more of my family life, business life, Star Trek life, and definitely a lot of the cats. Don’t worry though - I’ll still be featuring cats and art on the @archerandolive account too ;-). I’m usually a pretty private person, but I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone on a personal level as well.
Unbound and Intentional Journaling
#7 - and possibly one of the more message driven launches we’re doing all year. UNBOUND. This is our way of bringing the mental wellness aspect into creativity! This WILL be a monthly subscription. Each month you will get the supplies needed to create a new product, the instructions on HOW to create the project, and the reasoning WHY this type of art is an important part of self care. ART IS FOR EVERYONE and that is why 1. I will keep this subscription price as low as possible. But 2. Each month I’ll be opening spots to subscribe FOR FREE. Sometimes those that need it the most unfortunately, don’t have additional income to purchase a program like this. More on UNBOUND later! We’re launching in January with a really small group, and aim to open it up monthly to more subscribers as we learn, grow, adjust, change, and make it it’s best possible program we can.
There are still other new and fun products coming! Too many to name, but you’ll have plenty of advance warning this time to decide if it’s for you ;-).
THANK YOU for being an AMAZING part of 2021 and I’m REALLY looking forward to what 2022 brings.
So happy with all my A&O purchases, it is helping me be more intentional AND creative! Can’t wait for 2022
Sounds amazing! Can’t wait!
Love the idea of this UNBoUND project. I can’t wait to subscribe, this sounds amazing!
Bonnie and rest of the team.
I hope you all are doing well.
I enjoyed reading this message and what I get from it is that, as usual, there is a huge focus on keeping quality, variety and having mental health and the less privileged in mind. Always. I love that, I feel that. I am not a very “let’s talk about feelings” kind of person, but I have had to really step up and take care of my mental health these past 3/4 years and going back to be the creative person that I have always been. We as Humans are not made to sit in front of a computer all day, doing repetitive tasks. We are meant to live in a community and be creative. I love your products, and I hope European stockists can sell them in the future again, as I would only be able to buy something outside EU as a huge exception. Still, I will do it, if it is for something I really, really want.
Anyway, don’t want to make this too long, just want to say thank you for caring.
Susana from @doodlesuzie
In a world that has become shadowed by so many negative issues…your company and products are a ray of sunshine. Thank you for the warmth. <3 Can’t wait to see all of your offerings. Best luck in the New Year!