Coolperx had a great year. We can say that with a sigh of relief and incredible gratitude. We got bigger. Some of us in ways that, due to the constraints in activity and affiliated rabid stress eating, required a hearty resignation in the battle against athleisure.
We started the year strong, attracting tons of attention from new clients after their colleagues shared that we became a social purpose company (that was only last fall!), the only one in the promo-products industry. The difference between what Coolperx offers and the offerings of their previous vendors was so appealing that our January sales surpassed that of our previous entire quarter and prepared us for what was to come next.
Our team banded together as the pandemic struck the U.S. and we learned how resilient and agile our company was. Our localized supply chains and small diverse artisans were able to continue providing much needed gifts for our clients whose teams were stressed and confused and concerned about future joblessness. We leaned into our ability to work with these smaller artisans and together, we kept our businesses afloat and our employees in the jobs they love.
Seth and I worked fast to find ways to bring awareness to these artisans and created a supplier partnership program that quickly attracted the likes of Umm Skincare, a minority-, woman- owned and very intentional business, Happy Moments, another woman-owned business solving the problems of connectedness and belonging in the workplace, Impact Snacks, the first fully carbon-neutral snack bar company with fully (backyard) compostable wrappers, and Lava Linens, a family- and woman- owned company solving the problem of textile waste. This partnership program helps our clients find easy access to high quality products that uphold their company’s (and personal) sustainability goals. It helps these small, diverse businesses by highlighting them in ways retail partnerships don’t and because we don’t sell cheap knock-off items alongside their items, it allows them to keep their brand and quality integrity.
By mid-year it was clear our operations needed additional support and we brought on Elizabeth (a former client!) from Microsoft. She has become an asset in more ways than we ever expected, providing insight as a former buyer and expertise in organization and project management. We learned of her beautiful family (4 kids!) in New Mexico and her love of peaches, clearly a sign of her southern upbringing. Her own family grew as a puppy arrived in a stocking early this year. If you’re nice, she may share photos. But, you better be quick about asking, because this adorable, wrinkly little pup will be huge.
I continued writing blogs this year, knowing clients needed extra support and my insights were noticed by multiple publications, large and small. I contributed to moneygeek.com, The Economist, and others. 425 Business magazine featured me in their November issue and Forbes magazine took note of my highly critical curation (only the best will do!) and featured one of my all-time favorite products, the Oblio in their article of the best business gifts of 2020. I temporarily gave up on learning French, something I’ve wanted to do for many years, and took up more outdoor activities like tennis, snacking, running and eating. Yes, it’s me who’s resigned to athleisure. I’ll get back to French soon.
Seth started his long-dreamed-of podcast this year where he speaks with business leaders regarding the sustainability efforts of their businesses in hopes that inspirations and solutions shared will lead to large scale industry shifts in favor of environmental (and societal) responsibility. He is enjoying learning the new skill of interviewing and has put his heart into his role as a leader in sustainability, even enjoying white papers on recycling and packaging in his spare time. He's cooking less as his chef skills are more enjoyable for him when he can use them to entertain guests. Madison and I don't quite fill that hole, though we know we fill his heart. He's hoping to resurrect some cookbooks and entertain friends this spring as our fingers are all crossed that a vaccine aids us in our fight against this invisible yet totally destructive germ.
Our daughter celebrated her 9th birthday in the backyard with the gift of a zip line. Now we have to worry about both her virtual education and her survival.
In July we got our Washington State certifications, making us the first woman-, minority-, veteran- owned Social Purpose marketing and merchandise agency. In addition, Coolperx became certified as Climate-Neutral with ClimatePartner. By September we began offsetting the carbon on all the products we sell in a trackable, verifiable way with Clearloop, the carbon offsetting company. This has long been a dream for us, and it’s been wonderful to see it come to fruition. We are continuing to find new ways to make our services even more sustainable so that our clients can benefit. In October we trekked to Nashville to see the site of our joint effort - a future solar field!
Our intern, Abby, completed the most amazing and thorough lifecycle emissions examination of a very common product - a logo'd t-shirt. I don't think I've ever seen such a masterpiece. Linked here, so you can see it, too. She and Nektarios are back in virtual school this term and we are eager to see what they both do with their incredible passions.
Later this year, I appeared on Live on Linkedin with David Meltzer and and spoke about running a value based company. Also, I sent out our first Holiday catalog full of gorgeous images of our products, and preparing clients for the expected delays in the coming months.
Nate Katsuki from Cosmo, joined us and his expertise is taking our brand image to an even higher level. He's located in New York and rounds out ¾ of the continent for us. If you don't know, I have a growth plan that positions us in all four corners of the U.S. In December we brought on 2 more people in customer service roles, Sara Geiger and Erica Dougherty, who have added much-needed help to our growing business. Sara, a talented actor with a big heart and the best communication skills I've ever known, worked with us over the last two years doing small jobs as needed, but has become more critical to Coolperx as we've grown. Erica, hailing from my homestate of North Carolina, has joined the Coolperx team, bringing her dynamic creativity and love of gifting. Erica comes to us from the fast-moving world of Trade Shows and events, where she shepherded clients through every stage of their Trade Show exhibition journey. She was a master of show logistics and also brought unique creative insights to her clients' exhibit design. Erica lives in South Seattle with her fluffy pup and her husband. Ask her anytime about the latest and greatest reclaimed, sustainable renovation they've done to their small c.1907 Mt. Baker home. We're excited to see it IRL when it's safe!
Minnie has adeptly navigated the ups and downs of Coolperx's finances this year, helping us remain in a great growth position. We couldn't be more grateful for her continued support, even if we're sometimes jealous of her being able to work poolside from Las Vegas.
Chara is still holding down the fort in the Bay Area, helping our clients at Google, Poshmark and others with their company gifts while anticipating an unparalleled Coming-Out-Of-Quarantine party. We're sure with her ingenuity and ability to demonstrate a dramatic reveal, that party will be talked about for years to come.
All in all it’s been a challenging but exciting year of growth, discovery and new resolve to keep doing what we do at an even higher level. We wish you all very happy holidays, a happy New Year and good gifting to all!