2013 Year in Review - What I Learned in my Biggest Year Yet | Sincerely, Jackie New York Wedding Invitations

photo courtesy of Brklyn View Photography

A few years ago I started the yearly tradition of writing a future letter, inspired by my friend Jess Lively, and it has become one of my favorite traditions. I have undeniably had the most amazing year to date, and I am excited to revisit the future letter I wrote myself this past January. I could easily turn this post into an award acceptance speech - thanking each and everybody person that made this year so incredible - but I'm intentionally not going to do that. This post is to revisit the goals I laid out for myself last year, and to share how I went about accomplishing those goals.

The biggest thing you might notice when you click the link for my 2013 future letter is that I am no longer Believe Notes. It's amazing for me to think that, this time last year, I had no idea that I would be closing Believe Notes and blossoming as Sincerely, Jackie. In case you don't remember how Sincerely, Jackie came to be, you can read about my trip to Boston for the With Intention sessions, which lead to my entire rebranding.

Now that we've acknowledged the biggest part of 2013, let's revisit the rest of my future letter. Twelve months ago it was my goal to find my design voice, to gain more confidence, to conduct myself in a graceful and professional way, to grow my business more strategically, to continue to network, to partner with amazing vendors, to lay a good business foundation, to nurture Designers Care, and, finally, to grow.

The only goal that I chose not to focus on was the nurturing of Designers Care. As time passed after Hurricane Sandy, the demand for the Designers Care products slowed, and I admit that I was thankful for the lower number of orders. Designers Care was exhausting, and once Sincerely, Jackie started growing, I was feeling the ugliness of burnout and had no time left to focus on Designers Care. This past year has been the year of refining my purpose and making hard decisions, with that, I have temporarily closed the Designers Care shop until I can figure out exactly how I want to move it forward in a sustainable way.

Finding my voice and becoming more confident: There were a few bumps when transitioning from Believe Notes to Sincerely, Jackie, but I found my voice, and I am now, finally, comfortable in my own skin. I am a lover of all things sweet, romantic, and sentimental - like the single dried flower that fell out of my wedding bouquet, pinned to the wall next to my desk, reminding me every day of what matters most. Sincerely, Jackie is a tribute to my love for simple, sophisticated, meaningful designs and pushing myself to stay true to my own passion has allowed me to connect with my clients in such positive, personal ways.

Last year I made the goal to stay graceful and professional. This year my grace and professionalism were tested, trust me when I say that. I learned that there are some people out there who want to take the wind from your sails, who only want to help themselves, and who are just downright mean. I am so proud to say that, despite desperately wanting to cry and yell at times, I always stayed graceful. I genuinely believe that I can have a business that is good, in every meaning of the word, and I will always push for that good.

I also learned that being good means surrounding yourself with good. It was a goal of mine to become more strategic, to partner with good vendors, and to grow my business in a good way. I have found some of the best business partners a girl could ever dream for, and by outsourcing my scary business items to a team of people who share my good values, I have allowed myself to let go and grow. Partnering with an accountant, lawyer, business advisor, and a fine print house has allowed me to lay the foundation for my business.

I learned that having a rock solid accountant is invaluable. My accountant has picked me up and dusted me off on more than one occasion, and I am so grateful for the support from everybody in that office. Not only does my accountant's office handle all of my tax issues - they also did all of the leg work to incorporate Sincerely, Jackie and make my business legal!

I also have an amazing lawyer, who walked me through the entire trademark process (did you know that Sincerely, Jackie is now trademarked?!). He has answered so many of my silly, midnight, rambling questions, and has eased my mind over and over again. He has helped me handle sticky situations, and has genuinely supported me in those moments where I struggled to be graceful. He has given me the gift of feeling safe in how I conduct business, and I cannot put works to how comforting that truly is.

Over the summer I stumbled upon the opportunity to work with a business advisor. I was cautious in the beginning, but am now confident it was one of the best business decisions I have ever made. Having her on my side feels like having worlds smartest cheerleader and CEO in my corner. She has guided me, consoled me, pushed me, dreamed for me, and supported me in ways I never even knew I needed; but that, looking back, I needed more than anything.

Lastly, after dealing with my iPad cover disaster last year, I have been relentless in making sure I only work with the best vendors in the world. I spend the time to check samples, trust my gut, and do my homework. I also believe in supporting small, local, businesses so I always take the time to do the extra homework and see if I can find somebody local, who shares the same business values as I do. Since high quality fine printing is the most important aspect of my finished product, I went on a campaign to find the best fine printer I possibly could. After weeks of searching, I connected with an incredibly talented print house in up-state New York. They share my value and passion for printing, and consistently bring my designs to life in ways better than I had imagined. Saying I love my print rep would be an understatement, and I may be known to send her sappy "I am so happy I found you" emails at all hours of the night and morning. I am incredibly appreciative, and it's so important for me to let her know that as often as possible.

Beyond partnering with the vendors that create the foundation of my business, I have also become good friends with so many of the incredible other professionals in this tight knit wedding world. It was a goal of mine to continue networking, and I am proud to say that it is no longer a debilitating hurdle for me, but something I've come to genuinely enjoy. There are so many amazing, big hearted people out there who are only an email, skype, or call away.

On a more personal note, I could never have accomplished what I did without my incredible husband by my side. My goals became his goals, and without having him by my side, I would have never been able to keep the juggling act going. While I didn't write it in my 2013 future letter, managing my personal and business life in a more balanced way was definitely an underlying goal. My husband does so incredibly much (um, hello, my man does laundry, cleans, cooks, bakes, runs errands!) and while it's been great to have a network of professional vendors, what I really think has helped my business is having a partner at home, day in and day out, making sure our lives keep running.

Oh man, writing all of this out is so emotional. I cannot believe how amazing of a year I have had. All of the things I just mentioned are mostly things that have been going on behind the scenes, and I hope that by sharing them, you can see that growth isn't easy, and it takes a ton of work and lots of helping hands.

I cannot wait to share my 2104 future letter sometime over the next two weeks! I thought 2013 was incredible, but just wait until I share my plans for 2014!

Thank you to everybody, from the bottom of my heart, for making 2013 my MAKE IT year!