Thursday, September 25, 2008

One Year Ago...

One year ago today I was facing the unthinkable. You see, I had a flock of sheep and goats that were incredibly dear to me but I just couldn't afford to keep them anymore. 

My flock was producing beautiful fleeces, but the high cost of processing the wool and mohair into yarn meant we barely broke even selling our yarn. Hay was selling for $10 a bale and gas prices were skyrocketing. I was working two jobs- as the news director at a radio station and the membership director at the MV Chamber of Commerce- just to pay my feed store bills. I was broke, exhausted and so terribly sad when I thought about selling my flock.

And then, one year ago today, I woke up with an idea. I would start a Yarn CSA and sell shares in my flock's yarn harvest. Maybe, just maybe, I could get 10 or 20 people to invest. And maybe that would buy me enough time to figure something else out.

One year ago this weekend, I opened my etsy store and listed our very first CSA shares for sale. 

And then a miracle happened. 

Within six months we had sold 100 shares in our Spring 08 harvest. I quit one job. Our farm was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and I got 185 emails in one day.  A shareholder started a CSA fan club for us on ravelry and almost 300 people joined. We had our first Fiber Festival and more than 300 people came. I quit my other job. We more than tripled the size of our flock. The Fall 08 shares sold out even faster than Spring 08 shares did and people started asking for Spring 09 shares. Other farms started contacting me for help setting up their own Fiber CSAs. We were featured in a couple of magazines articles, and then a couple more. We got a book contract. We are being featured on the cover of a magazine next year. We raised $10,000 in ten days to help my Uncle when he became paralyzed after falling from a tree. And, most exciting, we shipped out the first yarn to our shareholders, and you all were happy with it.

I have to tell you that all of this feels a bit like a dream. I have never worked harder in my whole life than I did this past year and I have never been happier. I've made some life-long friendships. I found out that people will help you if you ask them.

And it's all because of all of you. There just aren't words to thank you for all of this so I will just say thank you and trust you will know how deeply grateful I am.

To celebrate the one year anniversary of the CSA we are having a huge sale in our etsy store. Oh, and the 2009 Calendars are finally here! They are so beautiful, even nicer than we had hoped and I know you'll love them.

24 comments:

Sarah said...

Congratulations on your first anniversary! What a wonderful milestone for you. I'm so glad to be but a small part of your endeavour. :-)

Sarah

Julie Roads said...

Susan - you are amazing. Thank you for writing this post and putting, all in one place, everything YOU and this community have accomplished. Huge hugs and congrats...

Jenna said...

Congratulations!
I am so glad you have found happiness and success in the same barn!
Thank you for letting me be a part of the fun!

Crista said...

Bravo!

--Deb said...

There's no question that you're amazing, Susan. And it's been quite a year for you.

And, how could we NOT be happy with that gorgeous wool??

Patrick said...

I'm proud of you, my love. You are one strong woman and an one amazing shepard!

Knitting Painter Woman said...

Happy anniversary and CONGRATULATIONS!

PolarBearCreations said...

Congratulations on your successful year!
Thank you for making us a part of it with this great blog and all the wonderful pictures!
I just bought my calendar and can't wait to see what the fall wool looks like.
You are a great inspiration!
Happy anniversary Susan!

annepia said...

Happy Anniversary. I am happy it all worked out for you guys and your flock. I am happy to be part of this adventure in a very small way. Have a nice day and enjoy the champagne!

adele said...

Posted by Susan at 4:55 PM 9 com

Jen said...

Wow! What a year, Congratulations! Jen

joanb said...

Congratulations Susan, you are quite an inspiration.

Susan said...

Thanks everybody, but you all are the ones who made this happen. Your generosity and willingness to take a risk and try something that had never been done before. Ya'll are my heros!

strangecondition said...

Congratulations, Susan! You're an inspiration. I think I speak for many when I say that it has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of all of this!

Namate said...

Amen, strangecondition, AMEN!

Writer Bug said...

What an inspiration you are! Kind of an "If you build it, they will come". You really do inspire me to follow my own dream. Thank you! It's been great getting to know you and the farm life. :)

Anonymous said...

Susan-So glad you decided to do a calendar with your great photos and the post cards, too! I even ordered some yarn while I wait for my "share". Best wishes lulubell

woolies said...

Congratulations on a fabulous journey, so far. Just think what the next year might bring!!

Sam said...

A huge congratulations at your success!

tracytracy said...

This whole story makes me so happy, I can't even tell you. Congratulations on everything! I can't wait for Spring '09!

Anonymous said...

A yarn CSA is a brilliant idea, and I'm so glad you decided to take the risk and run with it! Congratulations on your success and wishing you many more years of it.

flossy-p said...

Wow! That's the happiest, most awesome life story I've heard in a VERY long time. Congratulations! :D

Quirkles said...

I think participating in your CSA has been one of the best, most enriching things I've done in a long time. I love being part of this!

Jennifer said...

I got goosebumps reading this post. Congratulations on your first anniversary! I thank Heaven that your wonderful dream came true.