Now that 2021 has arrived, we can't help but look back at where Deschampsia has been over the past year.
When our farmers markets & street fairs (which had sustained and supported our little apothecary over the past few years) closed down in late March, we were fortunate to be able to continue our business online with the support of awesome folks (like you) who kept us going despite all of our fears.
Many of our original intentions for the year, like crafting + formulating new wild-foraged perfumes, had to be set aside in order to respond to the changes that 2020 brought upon us. A year marked with social upheaval, political tension, and a public health crisis that has effected us all in one way or another.
Being close-to-nature plant folks, we found ourselves unprepared for this new digitally intensive lifestyle that was presented to us. Our website and an instagram account had long-been established, but in many ways we didn't quite understand these tools or how to rely upon them exclusively for our livelihoods. It wasn’t long before we missed setting up our pinecone-and-lichen laden product displays, swapping self-care stories, and the community that defines these magical pop-up markets. Although, we must admit that it was nice to take weekends off for the first time in years.
So we looked to our peers and our mentors, we learned to have Zoom meetings, and we searched for solutions that would help us to weather the storm.
In Spring, we planted seeds in our small garden and began taking various online courses about a variety of subjects, including marketing, wholesale, and plant medicine, while staying informed about the latest news and information. Uncertainty was to become a common theme as the year continued.
By the end of Summer, we were fortunate enough to come into contact with the lovely people at PCC Community Markets, who were interested in bringing in a collection of local Washington made products for the holiday season. We were thrilled when they chose five of our products to be included in their holiday displays but we weren't entirely sure how we were going to pull it off.
How much did we need to make? How much would we need to invest? Where were we going to keep all of the extra materials required to produce for fifteen large natural food stores? If we could figure this out, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about the lack of holiday markets that we usually rely upon during the fall/winter months.
We had to learn about barcodes, we examined our labeling, and our supply lines. Our entire process was put under a microscope. This was a big leap of faith for our little apothecary—especially when considering the uncertainty of everything in the world.
We quickly realized that our little studio wasn't going to be big enough. We spent September reaching out to the small business community of Seattle, meeting with prospective landlords, and touring potential workspaces. Finding a short-term lease with limited time and budget proved challenging but we finally found a modest workspace in the SoDo district of Seattle.
For the next couple of months we dedicated ourselves wholeheartedly to producing bath soaks and botanical face masks for PCC Markets. We were also excited to add Central Co-Op to our list of holiday retailers— making a total of sixteen large natural foods stores that represented us. By the end of November, our handmade goods were all over the Seattle area, including cities like Edmonds, Issaquah, and Burien which had never seen Deschampsia before.
When December came, we shifted our focus back to our online presence. We quickly realized that we hadn’t prepared any kind of a marketing plan for the holiday season and so we came up with some seasonal promotions including our ‘5 Days of Self-Care’. For the rest of the month, we found ourselves hand-delivering to our natural foods retailers, packing individual orders from our website, and shipping Deschampsia goods to as far away as Finland.
People who find their livelihoods closely entwined with the cycles of the retail economy will often state that, “it is a hard sprint to the end of the year.” Our case was no exception— by the time things slowed down, we found ourselves exhausted and in need of some serious self-care.
Now that we’ve had the chance to slow down and catch our breath a little…
…we find ourselves looking forward into 2021 and asking what we’ve learned and how we can better integrate that knowledge.
2020 was an extremely stressful and traumatic year for all of us. We were reminded again and again of the real need for self-care in our culture and our own personal lives. Not the kind that shields others from seeing our pain but the kind of self-care that nurtures us and brings us inner strength, resilience, and true wholeness and connection with the living world.
That’s why in 2021, we are planning to focus more of our attention on creating better online content that will help communicate and model what Deschampsia truly means by “Nature Based Self Care”. You can expect the same great organic + wildcrafted botanicals we’ve always made plus, a whole bunch of new deep-dives into what self-care actually means, how to get the most out our goodies, and a lot more personal sharing from the two of us.
We’ve been asked several times over the past year about whether or not we are going to do street markets again and we still don’t know if/when in-person markets will be a viable option for us. The answer is, right now we cannot plan on doing markets in 2021— instead, we are going to focus more energy on our online presence and local wholesale. This means more blog posts, social media content, improving our website, and more partnerships within the community.
The past year has taught us all many lessons while highlighting (in eye-blinding neon) our shared need for community, resilience, self-love, and self-care.
We truly look forward to continuing and sharing this journey with you. As always (but maybe now more than ever), we hope to create a culture of openness and holism. We invite you to come as you are, connect, and grow with us in 2021 and beyond.
Don’t hesitate to send us an email, reach out on social media, or leave a comment below. We’re only a few clicks away.
Sending our love and gratitude! Jonathan + Jezabel