There was a moment recently that was so special for me. Topline, our sourcing partner that manufactures our shoes, came to our warehouse for an afternoon meeting. The purpose of the gathering was to go over the new product we are bringing in this year. While the meeting was underway, I took pause and listened to all that was happening around me.
At the table was a constructive product-development conversation with Topline and members of our team ... In the adjacent room were sounds of a keyboard clacking away with customer service ... In another room was a consultant from OptiProERP helping us on-board our business management system to SAP Business One ... In the distance, I heard the sounds of packing-tape for packages heading out the door ...
Everyone was doing exactly what they needed to do. And it was not just a doing-your-job kind of thing—it was seeing and hearing everyone owning and enjoying what they do in the spirit of adding value to the customer. The moment was so perfect. And the moment started to choke me up.
I could not help but think of a much different moment that occurred over 23-years ago. It was the moment where I found myself paralyzed after a three-story headfirst fall. With that forever life-changing event, while emotions were still raw, it felt like my life was over. “How could I possibly live the rest of my days in a wheelchair?” was the poisonous question I would ask myself. I fought the what-if and why-me ghosts—basically polluting my brain with memories that focused my attention on what I had lost and would never regain. I was on a path of psychological destruction and mentally in a very dark place. But somewhere along the line my thought process changed. It shifted. I switched to focusing on what I still had, what I could still do, and embracing the fact that I was still alive. I was able to let go. The ghosts of the past became easier to manage. And with determination, I was able to move forward.
My life would never be what it is today without the incredible people who encouraged and supported me then, and who have continued to do so through the years. It has been a journey for sure—an arduous journey filled with highs and lows, successes and failures. But through the grind emerged the blessings. There have been so many, like how BILLY Footwear serendipitously came to pass.
I have so much gratitude for the BILLY Team, our amazing partners, and the incredible customers we serve. Thank you all for being a part of this wonderful and meaningful adventure. There are so many wonderful things coming. And it is only going to keep getting better.
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Now with the start of a new year, it is the perfect time to reflect on all that occurred the year prior. So much excitement. So many breakthroughs. So much accomplished. Below is a quick snapshot of the shiny nuggets. Enjoy!
- Entering 2019, we only had shoes in kid’s sizing. We expanded the line in June and now have shoes in toddler, kid’s, men’s and women’s sizing.
- We teamed with more large retail partners, which includes Macy’s, Von Maur, and Scheels. We also teamed with some new independent stores like Pharmasave Broadmead, Younggren's Shoes, Little Chick Shoe Shop, The Little Seedling, Shoe Country Warehouse, Seliga Shoes, Kicks for Kids, Potter Shoe Company, K & T Shoes, and Heel Shoe Fitters. To see our full list of retail partners, please click here to go to our Retail Partner page on billyfootwear.com.
- Per customer request, we started selling international through billyfootwear.com. That path blossomed into something bigger, and we now have e-commerce partnerships in Australia, New Zealand, Spain and the UK.
- We had fun media support too. Podcasts included The Future of Now, Future Tech, and Unbeknownst. Footwear News generously featured us in their August publication. And the University of Washington highlighted BILLY in Columns, their alumni association magazine.
- On the office side, we moved into a new warehouse in Kent, Washington and hired four peeps, which tripled our full-time staff.
- On the technology side, we incorporated tools from MyAtOnce, OptiProERP , Alluvia, ShipStation, and then used SAP Business One to tie it all together. These technology moves were huge to better prepare us for the future.
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Okay, enough of 2019, buckle your seat-belt for 2020! I may not be chasing the ghosts of my past anymore, but our brand will be chasing ghosts in the very near future. Get this: Our red high tops are on the main character in the upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife film, which launches this Summer! I truly wish I had the words to adequately express our deepest thanks for this momentous opportunity. Every time I watch the preview, I still have to pick my jaw up off the floor. It is simply incredible. We sincerely thank the movie’s costume department for seeking us out. It means so, so much.