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Hi friends. :] Are you out there? It’s funny, how often I think about this blog, yet how rarely I update it. Many posts are started, but never finished. When I launched our e-commerce site and this blog became a part of it, I struggled with what direction my blog content should go in because I knew my audience was changing. (‘Should my posts be all business-related? Any personal? Still business tips? Or would that be weird?’) So I guess it ended up being easier to just not update it. But I do miss it and currently I feel like, fuck it, I’ll write whatever I want..

…which brings me to a recap of 2017. And here I sit, trying to find the words. Lets start with the good. In 2017, we traveled. We traveled more than I ever have before and probably more than I ever will again in a years time. Taking time off can be a scary thing for a business owner. Do I love closing my shop? No. Do I love losing the opportunity to make money while I’m out of town? No. But embracing what life has to offer is more important than work. So we went all in, planning a few personal trips in-between our family and business trips.

I think all the traveling really helped me get through 2017. Outside of travel, this was easily the hardest year I’ve had for as long as I can remember. I struggled with feelings of instability, uncertainty, unhappiness… I felt (feel?) lost. Looking back on my social media posts over the last year, I can see that reflected back at me. I pulled myself out of my content and stayed much more ‘business-oriented.’ I miss opening up to you guys, but I guess as my social media accounts grew, I found myself closing off a little. Social media just doesn’t feel as close-knit as the blogging community used to be.

Although 2017 had its struggles, it’s important for me to remember some of the positives Julie Ann Art experienced:

-We attended the National Stationery Show for the 2nd time. Not only did we add more retailers to our family, but we surpassed our sales and order count from the previous year, so we left happy (and fucking exhausted). We also continued to see growth among retailers beyond the show, which was a goal of mine for the year.

-I  started a Facebook group called The JAA Gang, which has brought back that ‘community’ vibe I had been missing from social media. I consider these members my ‘die-hards’ because not only do they follow me on social media, but they want more! I am choosy AF about what I want in my FB feed (cut-throat unfollower here) so it makes me really appreciate people who love JAA this much. They have also been my ‘test audience’, offering great feedback on our products and ideas.

-We were able to donate proceeds to organizations we care about. This has made my job all the more fulfilling. For a long time, I wondered about what ‘good’ I could do with my business. I think giving back, as well as becoming more of an active voice, is a great start.

-One of our cards was featured on the Netflix series, Disjointed… right behind Kathy Bates’s head. KATHY BATES’S HEAD! No big deal…

-I also celebrated five years of self-employment, which is something I still can’t seem to wrap my head around. Time really does fly when you’re having fun.

-Most importantly, over-all, we sold stuff! The business went on! We made money! It definitely felt different to be the owner of a company when outside of it… I felt so down. But somehow we ended the year on a much better note than I thought we would. For 2018, things are headed in a different direction and I think it will help us to feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and inspired. I guess you’ll have to stay tuned for that. :]

xx Julie


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