The Emotional Shareholders Report, Year Two.
A N I N T R O D U C T I O N
A couple of months ago I held a small gathering for a group of people who have journeyed closely with Found Hea and the shop over the last year, I called them the Emotional Shareholders. Mum and Dad brought puddings and cheese, we had an abundance of leftover wine from my sisters wedding in the summer and an appropriate amount of heckling as I started a presentation giving an overview of what had happened throughout the year.
That group was only a very small part of the picture. If you’re reading this, you’re likely a Found Hea Emotional Shareholder too. Someone who has supported this business, through all acts big and small, liking a post, coming into store, speaking encouragement, telling your friends about us and spending with us. You make this brand work.
I wanted to let you know what you’ve made possible this year. So let me take you all the way back to September 2018 and the start of our second year.
S E P T E M B E R
The shop was still called Brothers We Stand. Apart from the fact it had a lot more clothes in it, things were looking fairly similar. Sales were up 20% on the previous year, but the real excitement was in a renewed vision. Lessons from the first year were starting to form into ideas of new brands coming into store and a shop re-design. Energy was high.
O C T O B E R
In stark contrast, October came with set-backs as a particular brand had said no to being stocked in store, sales had been slow and suddenly the prospect of additional investment for the new vision was daunting. I had moments of thinking “is it time to give up?”.
In the midst of this, a good friend and I were re-designing the store and later that month ideas were brewing about a complete re-brand, incorporating women’s and menswear under one brand. Despite its rocky moments this was a foundational month.
N O V E M B E R
After much thought I told the founder of Brothers We Stand that I had decided to re-brand the store. True to his nature, he was extremely gracious, understanding why and still backing me as an entrepreneur. He is a man of truly good character. Brothers We Stand is still going strong online.
November was also the time for an experiment. I decided to give kids clothes a go. It didn’t work. There’s a few last bits left in sale if you want to grab a bargain.
D E C E M B E R
In December, the re-design was well underway and sales had averaged 20% up on the year before over the first 4 months. Christmas is always good for retail and it was good again this year.
J A N U A R Y
Trade shows take place in January. Three days of intense shopping in Berlin; seeing new collections, meeting new people and walking a lot. It was a fun trip. The brands were showing collections for the following Autumn/Winter, so the things you’re seeing in store now are the result of that time.
The big discussion topic in Berlin was a brand name. An agonising process. Trying to think of something original, that could have a .com domain, social media handles, a significant meaning and sounded good. Eventually, after many family board meetings and discussions with friends, at 7:42am on the 19th January I sent a WhatsApp suggesting Found Hea and after a series of positive responses bought foundhea.com a few hours later.
The name has a double meaning. Hea translates to English from Estonian as “good”. We are founding good. And we pronounce it “Found Here”. Our mission is to make ethical clothing accessible, so it is found here.
F E B R U A R Y
February was all about design. I thought this would be the easy bit about branding. I was wrong. A graphic designer friend of mine very kindly offered to help and after hours of discussing, looking through different fonts and detailed editing, we landed on our design.
Sales also took an unusually big leap that month, up 49% on the previous year.
M A R C H & A P R I L
Found Hea officially launched on 14th March, the new website went live and we joined the retail website Trouva. Sales continued well in April, a new A-board was delivered and PALA Sunglasses came on board.
M A Y
Things took a surprising turn in May. Firstly, I launched a couple of Found Hea ice-cream tees (not the surprise), which were well received. Then, around half way through the month I felt God say that He was taking me to “new heights”. The next few weeks saw a run of high sales. May ended with sales up 98% on the year before. June followed suit, being 118% up. Retail is a funny thing. It seems impossibly hard to predict. You can see a growing trend, but big leaps like that you can’t see coming, I didn’t do anything drastically different those months but they were certainly a welcomed surprise.
J U N E
In June, I had a new idea. I was sat at my desk, slightly bored, with no urgent deadlines and decided I wanted to learn to sew, to make a jacket. I had no sewing knowledge. With no experience, I doubted whether it was a good idea. So that night I asked God to let me know if it was or not. The next morning I got a voice message from a friend saying “Sam, have you thought about making things for the shop?”. They suggested making a bag, a much more feasible starting place than a jacket. So I started learning to sew.
J U L Y
In July, I sold the first Found Hea bag.
With sales still significantly up on the year before and also struggling to find cover for the store, I decided to put out a job advert for a Sales Assistant and Womenswear Buyer.
A U G U S T
There were lots of applications. Lots of good applications. It’s so honouring knowing that so many people want to be a part of what’s happening at Found Hea. After taking some interview advice, I did phone and then face to face interviews. Following that, Edina joined the team. She’s Hungarian, cares strongly about the environment and is a wonderful photographer (all the photos on our homepage are credit to her). So now because of your support, Found Hea is providing employment for two of us here and continuing to support many garment workers and brands across the globe.
In this final month of the year we were also featured in The Guardian in “A local’s guide to Bristol: 10 top tips” and the month ended with record high sales, even beating the Christmas period.
T H A N K Y O U
I couldn’t have predicted this last year. We have established a brand. Been featured in national media. Welcomed new brands to store. Sales averaged 45% up on the previous year. Our collection has become stronger and stronger. And the team has literally doubled.
We couldn’t have done this without you, the emotional shareholders. The ones who made it and still make it possible.
Thank you for being pioneers of social change.
Thank you for caring about who made your clothes and their impact on the environment.
Thank you for sharing this passion with your friends.
Thank you for the conversations in store.
Thank you for spending with us.
Thank you for liking our posts.
Thank you for telling your friends about us.
Thank you for reading our journal.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Let's keep building together this year, there are exciting things to come for year three.
P.S. If you have any thoughts or reflections, please do drop me a message at email@example.com