Hummingbird and Holly marked one year of business on March 28, 2017. The year was full of growth, huge growth actually, when you consider that Kate and I began this experience without an ounce of business background between us, an idea and a vision in hand. Of course the adventure began long before March 28th. The notion of creating something uniquely ours began in a tiny sleeping cabin in the hull of a boat. We were on our annual “girls weekend” aboard our dear friends lovely boat – docked peacefully at the Carillon Point Marina. Truth be told, we never took the boat out that weekend. We remained happy and content at the dock, venturing out only to walk through the shops of Kirkland and to eat! That’s what we do on “girls weekend” – sleep in comfortable beds, eat yummy food, shop and talk. Lots and lots of talking. Kate and I woke, and as with every “girls weekend” morning for the past 17 years, lay in our comfy bed chatting away awaiting our first cup of coffee. At this stage in our lives I have 3 children – a senior in high school, a sophomore in high school and a 6th grader. Kate’s kiddos – a freshman in college, a junior in high school and a sweet little kindergartner. We start chatting about where we are in our lives, both stay-at-home moms, kids all seem to be in good places, their need for us less and less. We both seem to feel like maybe there is something else out there for us, but the million dollar question is, what? Things seem to be running pretty smooth in my life, no real stress to speak of. I’m working out on a regular basis, my house is always clean, I’m getting all of my birthday cards out in the mail on time – life is good. Am I really ready to “rock this boat?” Then Kate says that she is thinking of starting some sort of business and would I want to join her. We lay there that morning hatching a plan, which today is actually NOT the plan we landed on, but we needed a launching pad, and that morning the pad evolved.
Here we are with our “besties” – a typical evening on “girls weekend”. It’s probably about 9:00 pm on a Saturday night and we are snuggled up in our jammies eating something incredibly decadent – oh and drinking lots of wine! I love Deb’s face down in the corner.
As with most good ideas – you don’t start out with the perfect plan, it is an evolution. That is exactly where Hummingbird and Holly emerged. We went back and forth with thoughts and ideas, hashed out our talents and skills and tried to marry them together into the perfect game plan . At the time, Kate’s daughter had left home and was 3,000 miles away at college. When you go to school so far away, opportunities to come home are limited, and Kate found herself sending her daughter care package after care package – with every attempt to make her feel close to home. That’s what moms do – we have been caring for our young from the very beginning, and it does not stop when they pack up and move across the country. Her attempts to create a fun, loving and thoughtful gift box for her daughter were full of MANY stops and shops and pulling it all together took way more time than she anticipated. She went to the internet seeking the perfect collection of useful and quality items she could send but her search resulted in absolutely nothing she would EVER send her precious daughter – baskets full of Doritos, fruit snacks, granola bars, candy bars all stuffed tightly in some god-awful basket that we all end up putting in the “goodwill” pile wrapped up in gobs and gobs of cellophane! She was completely unable to find anything remotely close to the collections she had been putting together. A box, when opened, speaks out saying, “I think about YOU all of the time, YOU matter to me, and I miss YOU.” A box full of thoughtful, useful and good quality items. And so it began.
Unsure of how to market to the parents of college students initially we were given a chance to put together holiday gifts to be handed out by each of our husbands at work. Off we went. Exploring the wholesale world, finding markets in Seattle and tapping into some of our own personal favorite treats. For example, that previous fall I had attended an auction where this delectable little box of caramels had been placed at every seat. I remembered that they were handmade from a local artisan in Ballard. And now Jonboy Caramels are one of the staples on our shelves and make their way into almost every gift box we assemble! We love the seasonal creations they come up with – their Key Lime and Sea Salt caramels for the summer are the perfect combination of sweet, citrusy and salty! Our husbands received wonderful praise for what Kate and I had put together and so we jumped in with both feet. We went to work with a graphic artist to design a logo and a brand that we could call our very own. We dove straight into the world of licensing, inventory, taxes, renting a space. We learned new concepts much to our disappointment such as “opening orders minimums.” But one of our favorite aspects of Hummingbird and Holly is the shopping we get to do. The gathering and assembling of collections that are meaningful, beautiful and useful to our clients.
I cannot lie, there have been several moments of panic, and some tears of frustration at the complex and confusing world of bookkeeping and social media. But at the end of the day I am ever so grateful that my dear friend had faith and trust enough in me to make this leap. And I know with my whole heart that no mater where Hummingbird and Holly may land this experience together with my friend has been a treasured gift.
With Gratitude –