It's now another year down, AMELI's second "real" year, and it's been a complete roller coaster ride. In the process, we have once again learned so much, grown so much as a team, community and brand. What in particular has shaped me this year?
10 Learnings from 2022
1 Nothing works without compromise - it takes a good balance.
This applies to so many situations at our company. In product development, the question: How many inside pockets do I want (as many as possible!) and what price am I willing to pay? I want to grow, but sustainably. I can't cover all return costs with the price structure, but I don't want to lose customers because of it either. It's never black or white and I underestimated how many decisions you make every day with (mostly) a cost/effort vs. benefit consideration.
2 Focus, focus, focus
I don't know how many emails and requests came in this year for speeches, stores, events, IT services, producers, etc. Each of these topics could have been dealt with for several hours or even days. But everything that was not core business, namely our own online sales in the DACH area, we canceled, because even there there are still enough construction sites and it is so important not to get bogged down.
3 You can't do everything (despite focus).
Even with focus, with a thousand "no's", with a thousand quick decisions, the gap between the actual state and the target state is huge. There is a metaphor with a glass and balls of different sizes. And you're supposed to put the big ones in first and then the smaller ones to focus on your most important issues. Makes sense in theory. Critical question from Oliver Burkeman in the book "Four Thousand Week" about this: What if the big, important bullets already don't fit in the jar?
In a start-up, there is somehow a completely different speed. No structures, everything has to be built up first. And when you talk to other founders, it's easy to get the feeling that you should have tackled SO many SO important things yesterday. There will always be too much to do and you can't do it all at once, or at least I can't. Accepting this state of affairs was a very important learning that I still often struggle with.
4 It takes longer than expected.
In management consulting, it's easy to create roadmaps and develop strategies. In reality, this year we have seen once again that everything takes longer than expected: finding the right people, having the prototype ready for production (A product is finally coming out in January, which I actually wanted to give myself for my birthday (in June).), IT implementations, marketing actions, writing this text here... I haven't found a solution for this so far, but maybe I have developed some acceptance as a very impatient person for the fact that "good things come to those who wait".
5 Offline team building is important.
We had an offsite event in Italy this year with our entire team. At our virtual Christmas event, so many described the offsite as the highlight of the year, simply because the team got to know each other even better, the characters could be assessed even better, and a connection could be built with each other that is difficult to create via the computer. Next year we will do another AMELI Team Offsite so we can pull together even better.
6 Purpose is the best Motivation
We held Womensweek this year in honor of International Women's Day and donated proceeds to Women's Hope on the one hand, and raised an extreme amount of issues around women empowerment on the other. In addition, we always have new Strong Voices and educational content towards women empowerment every month.
First and foremost, this doesn't bring more revenue and certainly there would be a thousand other ways to use the time for more growth, BUT there is nothing stronger for my motivation than the feeling that with AMELI I can really contribute to a change, to more equality, to more opportunities for women in our community, but also in the world. It is and remains a huge topic of the heart, which we will always have as part of our focus topics in 2023.
7 Community feedback is used for product development.
This year we asked our community if they preferred gold or embossed logos on our Technoparks. We also launched the Technopark in a smaller version, although we had actually planned a larger version. We launched colors that were requested by the community and new straps. Only through close cooperation and feedback from you, our customers, can we offer products that are really in demand and realize products that offer you added value. This kind of product development is extremely valuable to us and I am incredibly grateful for the many ideas and feedback we have received.
8 The right team is a game changer.
This year we grew quite a bit as a team and we also had two people leave. The two biggest learnings from this for me: don't compromise on hiring - no matter how great the need, if it's not a 100% fit, keep looking. Allowing the existing team opportunities for development and self-development, nurturing them and reaching for the stars together. The right team is an absolute make or break and is definitely worth time investment.
9 Thanks to our collaborative partnerships with our producers, we benefit from a great deal of flexibility and commitment.
We have had an incredibly close, trust-based partnership with our producer in Italy since the beginning. Especially towards the end of this year, this has paid off extremely. We had two big deals for corporate customers, one came very spontaneously, the other was already ordered and then cancelled last minute. Together with our producer, we were able to find solutions super fast for both situations and everyone pulled together. Northern Italy is certainly one of the most expensive production locations, but the quality of the products and the close cooperation is of enormous importance to us - precisely because of such situations where anyone else would have said: No, we don't have capacity or You already ordered that, you can't cancel it.
10 Don't forget to be proud for once.
We move at such an incredible speed, frankly from challenge to challenge and from one fire put out to the next. There is hardly any time to pause. But today I took some time - We have added 5 new employees to our team and heart, we now have over 30,000 Instagram followers and have over 1500 5-star reviews. We donated over 2.5k CHF to Women's Hope and published nine interviews with inspiring personalities. In addition, we added three new models and quite a few new colors.
It's incredible how much you can accomplish in one year and I look forward to 2023 with you.
Last but not least, not as a learning but because I am always amazed by it, I want to say thank you. Without you, your support and your loyalty we would not have had all these learnings. For every nice message, every constructive feedback, every compliment, every picture of AMELI bags in the wild I want to thank you SO much. Knowing that we are adding value with AMELI is the best gift for Christmas and I look forward to everything we will experience together in 2023.