Traditionally, this is the time of year where people review the last 12 months and then swear blind we'll radically change next year, honest, while fashion brands tell everyone who'll listen that they've had the best year ever, and that they'll carry on just as they are because it's working brilliantly.
Both strategies are daft, so here's some actual really real stuff in my head at the end of this year. What do you remember of us this year?
THE BIG HIGH:
The catwalk show. The odd thing is, probably not for the reasons you'd expect. We haven't managed to overturn the entire fashion industry paradigm (definitely a 10 year plan, that) or become an overnight viral sensation. And let's be clear - we're a business, we have to make money, we have bills and debts and all that and as a disabled person I have no financial security whatsoever, so, yeah, I have to justify this sort of thing, money wise, and I probably can't.
And yet... even I have to admit there's more to life than paying the bills. It's easy to get disconnected from people, especially if you're often housebound, as I am. Physical isolation is very much an issue for those of us with chronic illnesses, even when the internet lets us meet people virtually.
The amazing thing that came out of the catwalk is not the event itself or press or even the amazingness of the team, but that the fans who became models have become friends. Mostly with each other, but also with us, and me, and with our extended network of Generally Great People; too many to mention.
I'm not really sure how that happened. I have a sneaking suspicion that Amanda, leader of Irreverent Dance, had a great deal to do with it. And Samm, the lead make-up and hair person. After all, if you put a Dance-Movement therapist, someone starting to do art therapy, and an ex counselling psychologist in a room together, you might just get some odd things happening (and not just the 20 minutes discussion of the limitations of person centred counselling we managed while other people were moving rooms!).
Now of course I have to think... where do we go with that? What do we do next year? How can we share it with more than the people on stage? Cos we have people who won't make it to the UK, never mind a small theatre.
Suggestions on a postcard to the usual address :)
THE BIG LOW:
Historically KMD has been predominantly a business that sells lingerie to other lingerie shops. That had been changing steadily as sales to stores were increasing but sales direct to customers were increasing faster - when this year those sales dropped off significantly - and unexpectedly. This gave us the business equivalent of the head-staggers for a few months before we rejigged, and means we've been shifting things about an awful lot in the background where you can't see us. It's been noisy back here, believe me.
Now, when I write this, I'm going to get told by stores that that's because we're taking all their customers, but here's the thing; there hasn't been a massive increase in retail to account for the change (I promise more pies shortly). Also, retailers tend to hold very different product lines to what we do, their customers tend to respond to different products, and most customers prefer to buy from stores that have full time dedicated customer service people (we don't), easy returns (don't even talk to me about returns from overseas) and speak their language (as is traditional for the British, we speak UK English and that's all. It's a wildly embarrassing cultural hangover from our period as evil imperial overlords, which is a dynamic mysteriously never covered by sci-fi films).
From talking to others, it seems that this issue is affecting the industry generally, which is sort of reassuring, but also means it's not at all obvious what I can fix to put it right. Naturally that hasn't stopped us trying dozens of new things, although we're rather stymied by the total absence of critical path analysis present in working with our UK factory. So, I can see that most of my next year will be focussed on changes to this, and you might start to see rather more of what we're doing with our stockists.
LOADS OF OTHER GOOD STUFF!
MANY, many other things of note, in no particular order:
Esquire De Lune, from House of Burlesque. Do I actually need to explain why? Our catwalk show was his first ever time on stage as a burlesque dancer - normally he's a music video and stage show guy. LONG MAY HE BOYLESQUE! Also available for hen dos, promotional events and your grans 80th (Is that just my gran? Really?) at very reasonable rates.
With all your help, we were finalists for an award at the annual industry jamboree. We didn't quite make it, but I got to wear something daft and wrote Karolina's winning application, so it'll all come out in the wash one way or another :)
We had some awesome pop-up brands. This year we brought to you:
Harlow and Fox - luxury full bust lingerie.
Ayten Gasson - ethically made silk loungewear (including styles exclusive to us). Expect more.
Betty Blues loungerie - retro loungewear and bridal trousseaux
and Philmore Clague - which wasn't a pop-up, but I organised him a website and photoshoot out of a mixture of love and exasperation (I am often motivated by a mixture of love, exasperation, and tea).
We did video. LOTS of video, by our standards. It turns out that Joe and I will do video, and everyone else hides. Happily, you like Joe so much you don't care if all he's talking about is the Joy Of Packing or HSS tariff codes. We added swish professional videos of the lingerie, from the catwalk, to me taking Jess's top off. Also swordfighting.
We ran an epic customisation competition. You can see all the things people made here, and read in depth on the diary if you're looking for craft inspiration over the holidays. My favourite was Poppy's very not vintage lights.
We played lingerie secret Santa (and, just like you, I found my lingerie gift was stuck in customs with a huge import fee. Hurrah!)
This year was all about the swords, so we ran a Lady Of The Lake competition.
Our London pop-ups have been moving around a bit - we've been at 3 venues this year - but we should be back at Lulu and Lush to comically threaten you in 2015 :)
As usual your favourite diary entries had very little to do with shiny picture or press achievement and instead you geeked out over:
Catwalks, how do I hate thee, let me count the ways
9 ways to ensure your loved one hates her lingerie gift (This one actually caused complaints. I'm very proud).
A quick demo of how our business is changing (yes, I promise to do some follow up pie charts)
Not to mention I managed to induce a formal complaint to The Lingerie Addict by writing about averages and sizes, and revealed way more than I thought I ever would in an article about coping with vulval pain. (If you don't know what that is, you should definitely read it. And bear in mind that I was internet dating using my real name at the time. It's been interesting).
Er... I think that's all the import things covered, right? What? What are you saying? Oh, you want to know about the actual lingerie? Good heavens, I entirely forgot about that!
... and some variations therein, plus stockings.
Priority for next year? Fan laced girdles. Corsets. Silk slips are already in progress. Ivory all the things :)
Your turn! Favourite moment, Deadly or otherwise?