By now you’ve likely read all kinds of articles recapping 2020 and the major events that took place last year. You have no doubt felt the effects of these major events in a variety of ways. Some on a grander scale, others closer to home, some from a distance.
While I am not going to repeat all of the dramatic physical and political ups and downs of 2020 I am going to describe how some of these major events affected this small business owner.
At the outset of 2020, I joined the popular trend of choosing a word for the year. I chose ‘Trust”. Little did I know the ways in which that word would be a challenge for me throughout the year!
Being a person who loves memorizing verses from the Bible, and I chose Psalm 56:3 as my theme verse for the year.
“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in God.”
Long before the pandemic, I experienced many nights waking up and being unable to go back to sleep. Fearful thoughts sabotaged my sleep. Trusting God instead of being afraid was already something I wanted to work on. In January 2020 I anticipated there would be unknowns that I could either worry about or put this verse into action and trust God to work.
Running a small business presents many situations where fear rears its ugly head. Making decisions on marketing, writing emails, descriptions, social media posts, developing new products, tracking sales, . . . All of these and more are situations where fear can creep in. I was looking forward to Trust being an antidote to fear.
Another antidote for fear is reminding myself of the good things in life. Things like positive interactions with customers. Thankfully, many customers wrote positive reviews both on Amazon and on Etsy in 2020! Additionally, 2 customers wrote me handwritten Thank You notes for offering 2MyHero as a way for them to connect with their military loved ones.
Speaking of positive interactions, on January 6, our first grandchild was born to our firstborn son and his wife. We were so excited about entering this new season of life as grandparents. Although he was full-term, he was born 5lbs 12oz. Much smaller than anticipated. Right away there was the temptation to be afraid of something I had no control over and didn’t understand. But he was strong and everything fully functioning, so our son and daughter in law went home with instructions to feed him whenever he wanted.
My husband and I were able to go down and meet him in person (they live one state south of us – an 11-hour drive, or 1 1/2 hour flight) a week after his birth. He was the smallest baby I’d ever held. In all honestly, it was a little scary holding such a tiny little one. I keep one of the photos we took that weekend as the Home Screen image on my phone. It’s a closeup of him holding onto my index finger with his tiny little hand.
Our daughter in law had a nice long maternity leave. They had asked me to come and help with the transition when she went back to work. Because of the pandemic, their child care options had changed dramatically from what they had been planning and preparing for.
It’s been a long time since I have taken care of a little baby (like 20+ years), so there were many nights where I woke up and needed to recite Psalm 56:3. Sometimes over and over. In the midst of it all, the overriding memory from this summer is one of joy at being able to have that time with him. Let the pandemic do what it’s going to do, I got to bond with my grandson and that was incredible!
You may or may not be aware that 2MyHero cards are sold in several retail locations in addition to being sold online, on Etsy, and on Amazon. Fort America at the Pentagon, Ranger Joe’s gift shop at the Army Museum on Ft. Benning, Marine Corps Association at Quantico, National Museum of the Air Force, US Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, WA, and the Army Museum on Ft. Lewis.
2020 began with the hope of a continued increase in the number of retail locations that would carry 2MyHero military greeting cards. In past years, wholesale sales peaked in late spring or early summer, so I had no expectation of a change in that trend.
When March hit and the pandemic shut down all of my wholesale customer’s locations I began to realize that things were going to look quite different this year in terms of wholesale sales. I wondered if families’ inability to attend military graduation ceremonies would affect their interest in ordering graduation greeting cards online.
No one was in a craze to order greeting cards like they were to get their hands on copious packages of toilet paper. But online sales were overall steady and comparable to 2019.
The downturn in wholesale orders actually made it easier to run 2MyHero “on the road” and live for those months with my son and daughter in law. I made monthly short trips home. Because of the pandemic, the printer I work with was able to turn orders around much more quickly than they had been able to do pre-pandemic. I’m grateful they have so far been able to weather the hits from the pandemic. I know it’s been very hard on them. They lost major sources of income and had to reduce staff because of it.
Back in 2013, when I started selling wholesale to retailers, the majority of 2MyHero sales were wholesale. My first wholesale customer was Corps Store in Beaufort, South Carolina. They have been struggling for the last few years. At this writing, the storefront is closed. It remains to be seen if they are able to reopen when graduations resume.
Marines and their families are an amazing breed, and for 2MyHero they are my very best customers. I love how Marine customers express their gratitude through reviews! They do so much more frequently than the other branches. As all businesses experience, shipping issues do come up occasionally, and I have found that Marine customers have been much more gracious and better at communicating with and working with me to resolve the issue at hand. There is such loyalty within the Marine community!
It took some time for me to get online sales going. Amazon felt very intimidating initially. I’m now very grateful to have 2MyHero well established on Etsy and Amazon. One very positive turn for 2MyHero in 2020 was securing 2MyHero as a registered US trademark. This allowed me to take 2MyHero on Amazon from a Professional Seller status to a Brand store.
As a brand, 2MyHero is now able to offer special rates to business customers. Business customers can place bulk orders and receive great discounts. Not quite the equivalent of wholesale ordering, but significant savings for those in a position to need more military greeting cards. Business customers can always contact me directly through Amazon as well and request a greater discount based on greater needs.
One of my goals at the beginning of 2020 was to round out the line in terms of offering more selection both for general encouragement and for holiday. I’m excited that in 2020 I was able to introduce “Destined” to the US Marine Corps designs, as well as new Birthday and general Congratulations designs for all 5 branches. I decided to trust my instincts and design Christmas individual and boxed cards as well. This year only Army, Navy, and Marines were offered, but I will offer Air Force and Coast Guard in 2021.
2MyHero‘s website is currently in the hands of a capable website designer and I hope to launch the new site in Q1 of 2021. With the new website will also come new designs and a continued focus on expanding the designs offered for each of the 5 branches of military service.
Beyond individual military greeting cards, 2MyHero offers packs of Thank You note cards and Custom note cards. Classic in style, and brimming with branch-specific pride, these make a wonderful gift for Airmen, Coasties, Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers for any occasion. Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Birthday, Promotion, or Retirement parties. I know several retired military personnel who keep these on hand and use them even though they no longer are active duty.
Encouraging and supporting our troops is the heart and passion of 2MyHero. If you love an Airman, Coastie, Marine, Sailor, or Soldier, you have the same passion.
You are always welcome to comment below or on 2MyHero on Facebook or Instagram and brag about your Soldier with a sentence or more. Tell about an experience or character trait. It can be sentimental, funny or serious.
If you don’t want to be quite as public, you can comment below this blog about how 2MyHero military greeting cards, stickers, care packages have helped you encourage and connect with your Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine or Coastie. I’d also love to hear how one of the Gold Star military sympathy greeting cards helped you come alongside and support a Gold Star mom or dad!