2019 Wrapped – Simple & Sentimental

2019 was quite a year at Simple & Sentimental. It was our third full year in business, and we had so many special moments at the office and beyond. Scroll through to see a glimpse of our year both at Simple & Sentimental and personally!

January at Simple & Sentimental

Toward the end of December 2018, we finally had our laser engraver up and running. This was great news, but we were in the midst of our busy season and had little time to play around and learn how to use it.

In January, we got the opportunity to start making products with it. Below is one of the first products we launched on our shop that we made with our laser engraver. We call them laser cut names, and they’re great for place settings at weddings, corporate events, showers, birthdays, and more! They are now a shop staple almost a year later.

Gold laser cut name place setting
Laser Cut Names by Simple & Sentimental

Another fun thing we got to do in January was with our event decor rental business! We launched it in January doing local event decor and got our first big event with the local Chamber of Commerce. It was so much fun getting to play event designer for the day and help set up our lanterns as center pieces at such a large event. Below is what our centerpieces looked like!

We also got to attend. It was a black tie optional event so we dressed up and ate a nice dinner. We were listed as sponsors at the event and had to snap a selfie when our logo popped up on the screen!

February

February was a big month for us with products + staff! We hired our first full time employee Sarah and launched what’s now a best selling product for us.

In February I took a chance on ordering a few sets of pajamas to test out on the shop and see how they would do. Little did I know, those pajamas would become a best seller on our Etsy shop!

Later in May our Pajamas were also featured by Buzzfeed. It’s so crazy how small decisions make such a big impact! Here are a few photos of our adorable customers wearing the PJs on their wedding days!

March

Get ready, because this moth was a BIG one! On March 1st we started painting and moving into our current office space.

Below is us painting until about midnight that night! We had limited time to get everything painted and moved in because Nick and I were on spring break at ECU and had only one week to move the business. Thankfully we had lots of friends and family to come help!

Once the painting was done, it was time to start moving actual stuff in. It was a little messy, but luckily shop pup Dunkin was there to help.

Once we were finally settled, it was time for our ribbon cutting to show off our new space to the world! But when Simple & Sentimental hosts an event, we go ALL out. Our ribbon cutting featured remarks from the ECU Chancellor and Greenville Mayor. We had a great celebration with friends and lots of food! It reminded me why I decided to run my business in Greenville – the community.

By far my favorite photo from the event! Cutting the ribbon with the biggest scissors EVER and two of my partners in crime.
It was a little windy!

April

April was our first full month in our new location that features a small retail space up front! We are located in Winterville, NC right outside of Greenville. Greenville is home to East Carolina University, and with May graduation right around the corner we sold a TON of graduation caps. It was so much fun getting to help people create something to celebrate such a big milestone!

May

In May, we started to see our pajama and wedding-themed sales pick up. My husband and I also got married this month! It was such an exciting time.

Needless to say, my wedding was FULL of Simple & Sentimental products. We took tons of pictures and made lots of new listings from the items we used at our wedding.

This was definitely one of my favorite photos featuring our best selling pajamas!

We also brought on our second full time employee, our graphic designer Paige! Below is a photo from our wedding with our staff + some of our business mentors. To us, business is family, so of course they were there for our big day!

June

Summer 2019 was a season of preparation for us! We saw the high volumes that come with Christmas in December 2018, so we decided to start using summers to prepare. For us, this meant making ornaments for Christmas as early as June!

Because June is typically a slower time for our shop, we also use this time to come up with new product ideas. Some of our best-selling tall tumblers came from this!

July

July was a big volunteering month for us! One of our favorite organizations to partner with is Building Hope in Greenville, NC. Building Hope is a comprehensive program designed to help young children and families become successful by developing the spiritual and moral infrastructure as well as the necessary educational skills to overcome the economic and cultural hardships and hindrances of life.

Each summer Building Hope hosts its summer camp, and the kids come visit our office to learn about entrepreneurship and owning a business.

Building Hope Visiting Our Office, July 2019

It’s always a good time. We give a tour and tell our business story, then we challenge the students to come up with their own business ideas. They then pitch their ideas to the rest of the group Shark Tank style!

We also volunteered at our local Hope Lodge and served a spaghetti dinner in July. Hope Lodge provides a home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers while they receive treatments.

The S&S Team Serving Dinner at Hope Lodge, July 2019

Volunteering in the community is something close to my heart personally, and this passion for giving back exists in each of our team members. We love meeting new people in our local community and serving them!

August

As the summer came to a close, we did our very first bridal show at The Carolina Wedding Market in Raleigh, NC! It was SO much fun. I loved getting to meet brides in person and help their wedding visions come to life.

Photo of our booth at The Carolina Wedding Market, August 2019

This was also our first outdoor market. It was very warm outside, but so worth it! We are excited for the next one.

Nina also joined our team this month as our third full time employee!

September

The start of the fall was exciting for our team because we were one step closer to launching our Christmas collection! We launched our Christmas collection on September 15th in 2019 and it was so exciting.

Our First Home Ornament, part of the S&S Milestone Ornament Collection

We had never made acrylic ornaments before, and they were a big hit. We now keep some of them, like our milestone collection shown above, on the shop year round!

And I promise I’m not biased about my employees – but my favorite team member joined our staff in September. My husband Nick was able to come work for us full time! We all love having him around, and he’s a great asset to our business.

We also had a client send us some yummy popcorn. Thanks Susan!

October

Our first Halloween in our new office with a full time staff! This was so so so much fun. We started an annual tradition with our staff of a Halloween costume contest, and everyone was into it.

Below is a photo of our staff on Halloween! Can you guess what we are all dressed up as?

Nick and I were Meredith Grey and a shark attack victim. Paige and Nora were unicorns (they won our contest, of course!). Christina was Pam from The Office. Sarah was a walking thesaurus. And Nina was a butterfly!

October was a busy month but a lot of fun. Women Entrepreneurship Week takes place each October, and I host an annual event in collaboration with ECU called Women Mean Business (Click the link to see ECU’s article about it!).

At the event, we host a panel of local women business leaders and ECU alumni. We discuss issues faced by women in the workforce and female entrepreneurs. The event is open to the public and had a great turnout!

As a female entrepreneur, promoting and encouraging women business leaders is something close to my heart. I’m proud to call this an event that I started as a student, and I hope to see it carried on for many years to come. Below is a photo of our 2019 panel.

Women pictured, left to right: Sarah Holland, Kristie King, Kate Teel, Taylor Walden, Dana Newell, Kris Carroll, Denisha Harris, Donna Phillips

November

November is when we started seeing Christmas orders pick up! We also had a fun collaboration Sup Dogs Restaurant making Christmas ornaments with their logo and famous Sup Crush drink.

We helped people around the country remember their fond memories of Sup Dogs, it was so rewarding!

November held another first for Simple & Sentimental. We attended our first conference! Nina, Paige and I attended Innfluenced at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC where we learned all about social media and influencer marketing.

We met a lot of other businesses and made some cool connections. The food was AMAZING and we loved all of the speakers and breakout sessions we attend. We can’t wait to go again next year if they do it again!

Hanging out on the porch at The Carolina Inn

December

Wow. Our customers blew us out of the water with their awesome support in December! We had our best month in sales EVER nearly doubling what our best month was before. Truly a month we will never forget!

Needless to say, we worked super hard! We even had some of our staff’s family members step in and help. It was great to have their support during this crazy busy season!

After all of that hard work, it was time to celebrate another year at Simple & Sentimental! We have an annual Christmas party and award ceremony where we honor our team and do something fun together.

This year we introduced a new award – The Devoted Dunkin. Dunkin is my dog, and he’s basically our business mascot. The Devoted Dunkin award goes to a team member who truly goes above and beyond. This year, Sarah won!

Sarah with her Devoted Dunkin Award and Dunkin himself.

After our award ceremony and dinner, we went to AR Workshop in Greenville where we made the most beautiful signs!

We had the BEST time! We make things for people every day at work, so I think everyone enjoyed making a little something for themselves.

My favorite moment of December was graduating from college. I graduated from ECU with my bachelor’s degree in Business Management in 3.5 years, but it felt like forever while running the business.

It was quite a task to operate Simple & Sentimental while getting my degree, but I truly would not be here without having my experience as a student. While at ECU I won the inaugural Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2018, attended WBENC’s Student Entrepreneur Program, and was inducted as a charter member into the first entrepreneurship honor society at ECU, Sigma Nu Tau.

Parting Thoughts

All in all, 2019 was an amazing year for me personally and for our Simple & Sentimental team! From moving into our first “stand alone” office (aka not an incubator!) and hiring our first full time staff members, 2019 be a year we will never forget.

We are looking forward to what 2020 has in store for our business and our staff! You can read more of our blog posts and keep up with us in the new year here.

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