If you’ve followed our stories for the past year, you know this has been an incredibly tough ride for us. Our back to basics sale is what I am hoping will be our fresh start, after a fabric issue sent our entire business into a very difficult time. This is our chance to return to our roots, and a chance to continue to bring you ethically made pieces.
I thought I'd post my story here, as a vulnerable and open post about how quickly things can go wrong in small business, and to answer some of the questions about why we are having the sale.
In January, we made our largest-ever fabric purchase order with a supplier we had worked with before, and I felt a ton of excitement about the year ahead. ROWE had been doubling or tripling in each year we had been in business, and I really had so much optimism for us going into 2022.
2021 had been amazing for ROWE, but terribly for me personally, as in 2021 I witnessed my mother succumb to cancer very quickly and unexpectedly. 2022 was supposed to be a year to pick my spirits up.
Unfortunately, red flags started to emerge regarding our fabric quickly, as delivery deadlines were missed, which meant production slots were lost. When the fabric arrived I thought I could finally breathe a sigh of relief, but unfortunately, that was where the real problems started.
Much of the fabric was flawed, and despite assuring us any losses would be covered, the supplier in the end, only covered an incredibly small portion of those losses. It has been a massive monetary hit, not only was our cash flow halted while we tried to figure out what to do, but it trickled into our next season, as we were unable to order our fall fleece, costing us the potential profit from our most lucrative season of the year. To be honest every single day since June, I have been unsure if ROWE will survive.
We are completely self-funded, and have taken out a line of credit on our home, and a small loan with Shopify, to keep ROWE alive throughout this year.
This week, we have finally received the bulk of our spring and summer fabric in a restock of our most popular pieces. We have also created many pieces from any leftover deadstock we had, and we are blowing out all of this inventory at 50% off.
The pieces that are coming to you in the French Terry may have slight cosmetic flaws, but absolutely nothing will be wrong with the functionality of the pieces. Despite the flaws, the fabric is beautiful, and has been one of the most highly reviewed fabrics we’ve released. Our manufacturers did an incredible job of cutting around any issues. The deadstock items and waffle and rib pieces are all perfect, but we need to move it all quickly, in an effort to continue moving forward with ROWE.
Through this entire experience, I can not say enough good things about the love and support I have felt from the community here. I have not released a new fabric (not flawed) since February, yet so many of you are still here, sending me messages of support, and I can’t tell you how much that has meant to me. It has kept me going when all I wanted to do was shut everything down.
I am calling this the back to basics sale because this year taught me SO much. And it made me look at our company in a really honest way. There were days I thought about moving it all overseas, days I felt like lighting it all on fire, days I couldn’t get out of bed, and days when I would just sob looking at the ROWE books.
But there are two things I’ve decided. One, I'm not going to let someone else’s mistake and lack of quality control end my business. I will end my own business on my own terms haha. And two - this gave me the chance to see what I really desire to create. And that is small, curated collections. I have scaled back our production on our next collection by 2/3. This was initially for monetary reasons, but as I made the PO, I felt so much less pressure knowing it was in small amounts.
It also means we can move into more categories, meaning smaller runs of many items you may want to see in your homes. I am on a mission to deliver ethical pieces in many areas where we may not be able to find them currently.
ROWE started with two colours and one product, and I am excited to be getting back to basics by turning a new leaf moving forward. I have learned so much about true ethics and sustainability, and I hope I get the chance to translate that into ROWE.
I sincerely thank you for all your love and support and even though we are not through the mud yet, I can honestly say this company brings me so much joy, despite the trials, because it allows me to meet so many like minded people who care about the future of our earth, and the one we leave to our children.
To read more about our company and how we run things, click here.
Owner of ROWE