Looking Back at 2021: A Year in Review

Posted by Danielle Stewart on

***Photo by Nicola Styles on Unsplash  

I haven't done a year in review since 2018 so this is well overdue. The last few years have felt like a complete blur.  I have felt like I haven't been able to catch my breath in years. 

Truth is if I had to pick a word to describe 2021 it would be BURNOUT!

Years of long nights, stress, a revolving door of employees and more moves than number of years we've been in business have really done a number on me and my mental health. 

By the time December 2021 came I was unraveling.  I sent this message to my team...

Here are 3 of the main things I learned in 2021:

Your success doesn't have to look like the success of others. 

I am 100% guilty of scrolling through the IGs of other successful business owners, watching warehouse tours and consuming successful boss lifestyle content. 

Y'all it had me working toward things I didn't even want.  This required me to take a step back and ask myself is this what I truly want or do I want this because social media tells me that this is what success looks like. 

This lead me to read the book Company of One which resulted in a total mindset shift for me. 

I don't desire to grow a business with tons of employees and big offices.  All that sounds like more stress to me and I've had enough stress for multiple lifetimes.

Instead I want to stay small enough to live comfortably, with minimum stress and the ability to take time to myself and enjoy my son before he leaves home for college in 4 years.

As of now I'm still mapping out what that looks like for 2022 and beyond.  I can tell you this I am putting my mental and physical well being before anything else. 

Making money is the easy part, keeping it is hard. 

In 2021 we had a 45% increase in gross revenue from 2020.  How much of that do you think we actually saw?  Not much!

The cost of doing business skyrocketed in 2021 for us.  The biggest hit to our bottom line was supply chain issues , increased shipping cost to get supplies to us and issues with inventory management. 

Not to mention products that got lost for months totally missing our subscription deadlines leaving us sitting on dead stock that was difficult to move (e.g. file folders).

It was a nightmare!  I'm taking a really long hard look at every single dollar spent and determining what is absolutely necessary and what isn't.  

The best thing I did last year is move from our huge 4000+ square foot space that cost $3,500 per month to our smaller 1500 sq ft space that cost $1,331 per month. 

Putting yourself first is not a bad thing.  Self Preservation is NOT selfish.

This one came to me very late in the year.  I felt a sense of guilt every single time I watched a movie, took a nap, didn't work til 3 or 4am.  Hustle had become my badge of honor and if I wasn't hustling I felt I was letting everyone down. 

Being an employer feels a lot like being a parent.  My actions and decisions can affect the livelihood of so many people other than myself.  The pressure to be productive damn near 24/7 caused me to neglect myself, my home and relationships with the people I care about most my family. 

I finally had to stop and ask myself this question:

"If you were to die today from all the stress what would happen?"

Well the answer is clear the business would end and employees will find new jobs BUT I am irreplaceable in the lives of my son and my parents

In 2022, my self preservation comes first.  If I am thriving the other things in my life will too including my business.

Do you sit down and look back at your year and the lessons learned?

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Comments


  • After reading this I have a better understanding of the changes you made for 2022!! It is so important to take care of yourself for you, your family & friends!!

    Thank you,
    T Barkley

    T Barkley on
  • Purchased the Mini Friends Daily Planner along with the Mini Friends Feelings stickers to assist a co- worker battling Breast Cancer to keep up with her doctor’s appointment. She was in tears because one of the Mini Friends matched her style, and the stickers tapped into her various emotions.

    Whirlwind of Life can be overwhelming BUT you are an extraordinary person and YOUR creativity is amazing.

    FELICIA JOHNSON on
  • I am glad you shared this. I have been feeling the same way. In 2020 I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Sjögren’s Syndrome. Stress triggers most of my symptoms and it can be painful. It also causes major fatigue. So, I’ve had to reduce my hours to work on building my business. It sucks but none of it matters if I’m not here to Even enjoy it. Take care of you first, then family, and then business. ❤

    Sasha Moore on
  • Thank you for sharing this and being open with us. I’m not a business owner but help manage a small business so I related to the feelings you expressed. Your blog is a reminder to refocus my priorities to not lead myself to burnout too. And I hope 2022 is much better for you.

    Raquel on
  • I admire you tremendously for your transparency and honesty. It’s important for you to take care of you. I love your brand but respect your sharing your heart more. Work for your “why” not the worlds. Blessings and rest for you I. 2022.

    Veronica Barcus on
  • I love u. I really appreciate you put it out there what you are going thru and been thru. I understand. I know because I need strength everyday deal with my mental health. My family and raising 4 grandson. I know there a god. I love your work and I have spread your love all over the place. We as woman we feel we have to always be super woman. But know it ok to do nothing sometimes and to say no. Because people will drain us dry. We have learn self care.
    Take all time you need. Because a peace of mind is better any day than a piece of money.
    Love u. You are the best!!

    Annie Henderson on
  • 2021 was the hardest year of my life! I literally had to fight to stay alive and I would watch your lives and feel like you had all together abs to know you were struggling let’s me know that we all had our own battles. I am praying for yoh and will continue to support you and your business.

    Tara Thornton on
  • Take all the time you need for your mental & spiritual well being. Social media truly is a curse and a blessing. Success is different for everyone. You are amazing and there is no need to compare yourself to other business owners. We, your customers, will be here to support you.

    Christal Whitehead on
  • This post was SO on-time and beautifully transparent. We don’t often get the inside scoop on how other small business owners are handling the day-to-day life challenges that come with the gig and I so appreciate this. Decision fatigue is such a real phenomenon and we often don’t realize we’re experiencing it until we’ve truly hit burnout. I work as a public librarian and also have my own companies, and have a husband and 5 year old, so it boils down to people asking me things ALL. DAY. LONG., and I’m truly about to lose my mind. Thank you for this post because it helped me feel much less crazy.

    Regina T. on
  • Dearest Danielle,
    Trust one thing, GOD has your back. I lost my father on 1/11/21 two days after my birthday on 1/9 and 7 days before his birthday on 1/18. He was the one most amazing human being on this earth that was MINE and now he’s gone. Life has been and still is HARD. Know one thing for sure, you are never given more than you can handle. WE are here to support you.

    Sharon V. Jackson on

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