My personality makes me apprehensive to change. I want something to be the same literally forever. As I learn more about life, business and success I know that change is inevitable. Part of the responsibility of being called to help others is trusting God when He has opened the door to something new.
As many of you know, Indy has been our home for the past few years. We started here, we grew here, we definitely learned here. We are starting to grow out of our store fronts, our online store is booming, and our brand is really taking off. We want to grow our clothing line for Mercy Multiplied, who we've been able to give over $10,000 to, from our profits. This is why we started our brand!
The First Harvest footprint is wide! We've shipped to all 50 states, 6 different countries and have other storefronts from Hawaii to Virginia, carrying First Harvest in their stores!
With that being said, we are closing the stores here locally, in Indianapolis. Don't worry, you can always find us online, we plan to always be able to ship for free!
Here's the reason why: Running our stores and opening our stores has taken a lot of effort and energy. We want to take a different approach and spend the same amount of time, money and energy investing in our brand. We can reach a much greater audience online, versus just where our stores are planted.
Our vision for First Harvest has always been that it becomes a household name. We know that we can make this happen faster and more efficiently by changing our operations and how we do business. This will allow us to give even more back to Mercy Multiplied and help women around the world that are recovering from abuse, additions, sex trafficking and other life controlling issues.
This was not an easy decision for us. So please do not think that we take this change lightly. We put 3 years of blood, sweat, tears, and all nighters into these stores.
Here's a trip down memory lane!
When we opened the Fashion Mall store, I remember sitting outside in the hallway the evening before we opened, making a yarn sign that got so many sweet compliments. I remember Matt helping to put racks and shelves into the walls. I remember the Christmas album playing on repeat in the halls of the mall, it was so quiet yet I couldn't handle one more "baby it's cold outside" haha. I remember when we got the store 99% done that night, we went home, slept for a couple hours, and headed back up to open. I didn't know how many people were going to show up. I was so nervous, my stomach was in knots. All the effort, and now a dream realized. I remember opening the doors, and people started flowing in. The flow really never stopped that day. We did more in sales than I thought was possible in a day. I was over the moon happy. We went home, and did it again.
8 Months later, we opened Greenwood. This was a different experience for us, because we were taking an old electronics store and flipping it into a boutique. I remember the very first day we were to start renovations, our contractors didn't show up. We were slightly freaking out, but we were calm. It was going to be okay. I remember hiring a sweet employee a couple days before our grand opening, she came in to train the night before we were to open, and she ended up staying at the store until 10pm steaming clothes. I remember Chick-Fil-A donated nuggets and cookies for the grand opening and the girls came by to take a look the night before and they probably didn't believe that we would be able to make it happen. I remember my manager and I rushed to the massage place down the hall right before they closed to get a quick 15 minute massage in. We stayed up until 5am, until calling it a night, and going home to sleep for a couple of hours. We came back early (the mall opens at 10am) when I got to the store to come finish final touches around 8am, we had a line. I could have cried. I probably did, but the adrenaline held it back. We opened the doors, and people started flowing in, the flow definitely never stopped that day. I remember doing double the sales that the Fashion Mall did on it's grand opening and thinking to myself 'this is unreal, how is this possible.'
2 Months later, we opened in a city we didn't know, and didn't know us, in Mishawaka, Indiana. We were so excited about this move because it was outside of the Indianapolis area, we got to grow and expand into a new market. I remember all of my clothes that I ordered for the grand opening coming in on Friday (the GO was the next day, Saturday). I remember driving 2.5 hours away, and Matt and I started hammering away and putting racks in the walls. I remember my manager needed to bring more clothes that had come in, from Indy, so she drove 2.5 hours up to Mishawaka. We worked and steamed, and tagged the clothes into the wee hours of the morning. We had a huge stock room, brought an air mattress that my manager and I slept on, Matt slept in the truck, bless his heart. I remember opening that morning, and not thinking anybody was going to come because "who are we?" nobody even knows who we are! But they didn't disappoint, people came.
1 month later, we opened at Hamilton Town Center. This was probably the most exhausting night before a grand opening. We opened on Black Friday. It was the best and worst decision we ever made. We had 3 stores running full force at the time, right in the middle of our busy season. There was nothing done before Thanksgiving besides our sign on the exterior of the store and a large sign on the inside. We left Thanksgiving dinner early and got to the HTC store around 5pm. Greenwood opened at 6pm. Everything was crazy! Matt and I brought our dog, Tarzan with us that night to keep us company. He hung out by the doors and watched as people were out and about pre-black Friday shopping. We painted, we swept, we steamed and tagged. Eventually we got most of the way done. That night, Matt left around 1am, to drive 2.5 hours up to the Mishawaka store to help with Black Friday and to appear on an early morning TV segment. I stayed and continued putting clothes on the racks. I remember I had brought a few blankets and pillows and made a little bed in the back room (a very uncomfortable bed). I didn't go to bed at least until I knew Matt made it up north safely. I remember going to sleep around 4 am, I had an employee arriving at 6am to open up for me. That is also when our sales began. I started hearing people come in, so I woke up, and got to selling. We closed that evening at 9pm. 2 full days of no sleep, a full heart and our biggest day of sales to date.
Matt and I prayed over every store before the opening, we prayed over every single one of our customers that would walk through the doors. We prayed when we closed them one by one. Hoping we were making the right decision. We felt in our hearts that we were.
I wouldn't trade any of these experiences for the world. We gained some incredible customers, for example, Donita came to us when she didn't know we needed it most, and has been our best customer to date. We learned so so so much along the way!
Our clothing brand, First Harvest is growing rapidly. We have so many what we call "super fans" meaning, when we launch a new design, they buy it up. We cannot keep them in stock long enough. When we launched our very first design 2.5 years ago, I remember hoping that someone would buy one. But why would they? Why would someone want to wear our brand and name on their shirt? But the people bought, and they keep buying. We have sold over 11,000 First Harvest branded items since then. It's humbling. Such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude!
Our whole brand is centered around giving back. Upgrading our operations allows us to do MORE of that! God is pushing us in the direction that we need to go. We had so many wonderful doors open and others close. The opportunity to grow and expand our brand has never been more clear to us.
Having the stores is not a part of growing our clothing line.
We are beyond excited to be upgrading our styles, our brand, the diversity of First Harvest product we can provide. We are upgrading everything!
We love you all so much, and hope that you are just as excited about this big change and all the growth to come as we are!
INVITATIONS TO A BIG PARTY WE ARE THROWING, TO FOLLOW!!