To mark the end of 2020, we thought we’d take a look back at some of our highlights from the past year (and try to work out ourselves where the time has gone!).
A normal start to the year
We certainly made the most of the first few months of freedom – café working in Oxford, and also taking a few trips around the country! We spent a weekend at the Cambridge Judge Business School on their Social Ventures Weekend, having just been accepted onto their full incubator.
We also spent a fantastic weekend up in Edinburgh with Smalls for All, helping out at their warehouse and getting to know their operations from the ground! It was also a great opportunity to meet their fantastic group of volunteers. We sorted through thousands of lovingly sent donations of gently work bras and new underwear, and hope we were of some help!
With the beginning of the first lockdown, we moved 100% of the business online and immediately implemented a range of hygiene measures such as wearing medical gloves and distancing at all times when processing orders. Safety was our utmost priority!
Suddenly, remote working became the norm, and we found ourselves experiencing many events through a screen – even markets!
A tricky couple of months…
Over March and April, we saw a significant drop in our sales and revenue as broader consumer confidence was affected. We prioritised outreach, marketing and PR work, and also focused on some website improvements and adjustments to our communications.
We bounced back with some amazing press coverage
And all this paid off in a feature in the Guardian alongside Stella McCartney, and also coverage in London’s Metro and locally on JACK FM. These successes were the precursor to being featured by the Guardian for a second time in August!
Which resulted in…
A brand-new problem – not enough stock! From May, we saw such a significant uptake in sales that our underwear supplies began to struggle, a problem that was compounded by the ongoing (and open-ended) closure of our manufacturer. But, as we kept telling ourselves, it was a good problem to have as it showed that our products were popular (just a little too popular for our capacity!)
We owe so much to our amazing customers for bearing with us while we were experiencing these issues, and for continuing to support us in many different ways – from leaving reviews, engaging with us on social media, and generally being so supportive of our work and our mission!
Over the last year, we’ve received some lovely feedback – which always makes our day!
Some things old, some things new!And while all this has been going on, we’ve been plugging away in the background, working on all sorts of new initiatives and also making great progress on long-standing goals!
In September, we launched our email newsletter – following the motto that it’s better late than never! We were in the very fortunate position of having built up a considerable mailing list, despite not having developed our newsletter for the first few years of the business’s life. The Positive Pants Club is now in full swing! You can sign up to our mailing list from our home page if you want a fortnightly curation of news and advice on everything from fashion to fabric care.
As the year went on, and our sales bounced back and reached new highs, we expanded our dynamic team of two by hiring our amazing Social Media Manager, Jess. We’ve also been incredibly lucky to work with a number of amazing groups of students – from Imperial College, Henley Business School and Birmingham University – who’ve been invaluable in helping us out with projects ranging from circular fashion, branding and communications, Pinterest, content strategy and more!
And, on top of this, we managed to submit our application to become a B Corporation – something we’ve been working on for a long time! There are still a few stages to go, but we hoping to become a certified B Corp in 2021. Watch this space!
New products!One of the most exciting developments of this year has been the launch of new products!
Earlier this month, we launched a range of bralettes designed by girls, for girls, in collaboration with sisters Phoebe and Flora (age 11) who alerted us to a gap in the market for young girls’ bras and also helped us come up with our designs! These have now come to fruition, and you can shop the full range of girls’ bralettes here, and also find out more about the story behind their development!
It’s been a busy December, as we’ve also launched a range of products created in collaboration with Kenyan designer, KikoRomeo. You can check out the full collection here!
And last but not least, our re-usable face masks! Becoming aware of the emerging environmental statistics associated with disposable PPE, we decided to create our very own range of super-soft, organic and re-usable face masks to make going to the supermarket a treat!
This year Y.O.U Underwear has also been a finalist in the Global Good Awards, The Business Green Leaders Awards and the Blue Patch Awards, as well as being named as a Gold Winner in the One Planet Awards! We were also super excited to be chosen as one of Small Business Saturday’s SmallBiz100. We had our Small Business Day on 20th November – it was amazing to be in the spotlight of this national campaign!
What’s on the cards for 2021?
It’s hard to imagine what’s going to be in store in 2021, but we’ve got some big projects that we can’t wait to tackle in the New Year.
This year we signed up to the Circular Fashion Pledge, committing to introduce a take-back scheme for our underwear by April 2021. We’re hoping to hit the ground running with this in January, following through on plans and possible strategies we’ve already developed.
We’re also hoping to introduce even more new products! New designs, colours and more…so watch this space!
And Merry Christmas from everyone at Y.O.U Underwear!