I am writing this on Boxing Day evening after a hectic few days of last minute shopping, visiting friends and family, eating too much and taking George for long walks. With a glass on mulled wine at my side I am thinking 2017 - Wow What a Year you have been!
Here it is in a nutshell!
January brought the news that we had a stand at Crufts, having applied for 5 years it came quite out of the blue, and left us just 5 weeks to get ready for it! The Norfolk and Suffolk Coats were designed.
In February Bruno had a bad Demetex mite infection plus we had the news that his kidneys were not functioning as they should be but he was good in himself, still being cheeky and eating well. He got over the infection with the help of weekly baths and some heavy duty drugs that we thought twice about giving him.
March - we packed up at big van and went to Crufts. I have mixed feeling about this show, but I came away knowing that, in general, the visitors were all dog lovers, the jury is out for me on the breeders and people showing the dogs. We have booked a bigger stand for 2018 and hope that with a few more weeks to prepare we might this time take enough stock!
April was the worst month. After the high of Crufts, we hit a huge low in April. My beloved Bruno, who had conquered the Demetex mite but had Congestive Heart Failure, could no longer fight it and on April 12th we made the hardest decision ever, to let him go. Bruno was my inspiration for Redhound and had been in my life for 14 years, he was my best friend, and losing him completely broke me. Frankie was lost without him and felt our sadness.
Just 2 weeks after we hosted our first Happy Hound Day with Kerry from Whippet Snippets, and we also had my brothers whippet, Toffee to stay, so even though we were both feeling so very sad the show had to go on, and having him around really perked Frankie up. Happy Hound Day was an amazing success, we had over 200 hounds enjoying it and raised over £500 for Celia Cross Greyhound Trust - the event in 2018 is going to be bigger and even better.
May was the month that my mum died having fought a very aggressive demetia for 9 months, and so close to Bruno it was tough to take.
June was the month that George was born, but it was spent sorting out mums flat, whilst trying to give Frankie the extra attention she deserved having lost her best friend, but trying not to be sad around her which was a real challenge.
July - I did a photo shoot with Whippet Snippets, Kerry Jordan, and introduced more products for Greyhounds and Dachshunds. On July 18th Frankie collapsed and we had to call the vet out to help her on her way. It was a really horrid time, only helped by meeting George for the first time. The mixed emotions of grief and delight were at times hard to bear.
August - we took our first dog free holiday in 14 years, a cottage in Norfolk that was full of memories of a previous holiday with Frankie & Bruno. It was bitter sweet. We went to see George again and had mixed feelings, were we doing the right thing, will we ever love him the same way that we did the others? It was emotional, but on August Bank Holiday we brought him home and knew we had done the right thing. That 6 weeks with no dog in the house were the saddest of times. Our house felt all wrong but George has restored the balance again.
September - we finalised our catalogue and sent out over 1000 of them.
October, November and December - these months were a roller coaster! In these 3 months we:
- Did 52% of our annual turnover
- Sent out 1094 items to our retail customers and over 300 to stockists
- Delivered over 700 Fleece Jumpers
- Shipped products to over 20 countries
- Took on 2 new rooms at The Barn
To achieve this I had the help of 3 new sewers without whom we just could not have done it, and Wendy worked practically full time in the packing department!
I am still amazed by the response to our products this year and by the love that is shared daily by our lovely customers on social media. As one customer put it, Bruno has left a great legacy. That little whippet inspired so many items that benefit shivering hounds all around the world.
The thing that has most overwhelmed me this year is the support I have received following the death of Bruno and then Frankie. And the joy you have shown seeing how little George has changed our lives, and allowed us to move on from the sad times. He has made us laugh again and even though there are still days when I miss our oldies desparetly he is there to remind me that I have more love to give, and he is inspiring a whole new range of products - all washable because I now feel the pain of any owner of a dog that enjoys a roll in the smelly stuff!!
So, here’s to a much happier New Year. We have Crufts to prepare for and Happy Hound Day to look forward to. There is also going to be new knitwear for dogs and their humans, as well as more washable styles and ladies coats, it’s going to be a busy one, which is why I plan to put my feet up for the next week and enjoy the calm before the storm!
Thanks again for the support you have shown enabling our little business to grow more than we could have thought possible.
Happy New Year to you all and I will see you in 2018!