We did it! December 21 marks a second year in the books, and it definitely looked differently than I envisioned when I sat down to dream about it last December.
A few things you may not have noticed but felt huge to me: we upgraded to a new site, brought on an assistant, hired two interns, co-hosted our first retreat, expanded wholesale, did a “market tour” of the Midwest, widened inventory, and collaborated with what feels like a zillion brands, shops, photographers, influencers, makers, etc. We followed through on a lot that we imagined for the year.
I adventured in a way that I hadn’t before. Saw lakescapes that left me short of breath from either general awe or actual exertion/exhaustion: kayaking Pictured Rocks, surfing and paddling along Sleeping Bear Dunes, cruising through the Ontario lake-scene, and spending a week in Toronto with a view of Lake Ontario. I dipped my toe in countless bodies of water, each sharing their own unique vibe, all pretty darn healing. Most of the people from these experiences and collaborators mentioned above either were or have become close friends.
And it’s been amazing to see this same attitude embraced in the community. The volume of DMs, emails, social media tags, etc., from each of you sharing your adventures has been incredibly fun and educational to follow along with. And not only that, you supported us with your purchases, which allowed us to contribute to both the Alliance for the Great Lakes and the Surfrider Foundation - Milwaukee. We can fulfill our mission of giving back to the lakes because of YOU.
With each step, there’s been a boatload of learnings and growth - some flowy, some a bit more upstream. My life at the “helm” has lookedvery different from what I thought it would. This brand has connected me to people, places, and conversations that I guess I never really imagined would be major pieces of my life. Starting a business isn’t easy, and then staying in business is pretty dang tough. It’s like eating humble pie for multiple meals per day. It’s learning to like humble pie because it means you’re closer to not having to keep eating it if you can step back and learn from what’s going on around you.
But after having this conversation with quite a few entrepreneurs lately, we’ve all agreed on the same things: business teaches you that you’ll learn what you need, meet you who need, see what you need, and achieve what you need not necessarily on your own desired timeline, but in the time and way that you’re meant to.
I feel closest to God when I’m by the water, but I’m learning to also feel that closeness when I can make the same intimate, safe, and golden connection with the right people, too. And that’s what year two has taught me. I can’t wait to share my visions for 2019, as the lake is calling for a whole new set of gear to accompany us on our adventures, however grand or small they may be, because the beauty, adventure, and meaning are actually all in the eye of the beholder.
*Professional images via lifer friend @cassierosch | CassieRosch.com