If you ask me when I started MINNA I usually trip up and stumble. "Uhh, well, 2013 it was in my brain, 2014 I started researching, but in 2015 we launched the product line. So, 6 or 8 years ago?!" The team convinced me that it was finally time to set a date so we can yearly celebrate our anniversary. We're going back to the beginning and saying MINNA is 8 years old and celebrating with our first ever Anniversary Sale. In honor of that, I've put together a little timeline to highlight some fun and exciting milestones over the years.
This is the year MINNA was conceived as a teeny tiny drop of hope and inspiration in my brain. I left my last full-time job this year and set two secret goals: starting a homewares brand that sold rugs, bedding, blankets, and pillows, and never working in the corporate world again. This is also the year I broke a picture frame and created a frame loom, taught myself to weave, and gave it a moniker: MINNA. September was when MINNA was accepted into the Renegade Craft Fair and thus paved our way forward, so it's September that we are choosing as MINNA's anniversary month. By the end of the year we are a team of one.
My weavings began to gain traction this year! There wasn't an algorithm on Instagram and hashtags actually worked - people actually saw my work! I received a few exciting commissioned collections for Nasty Gal, One King's Lane, and Need Supply. I mostly focused on weaving this year and watching a lot of really bad TV. I freelanced to support myself and invested all sales back into research and product development. I began doing a lot of research on artisan development and laying the groundwork for the first arisan-made collection. By the end of the year we are a team of one.
So much happened this year! I met Katie James, MINNA's first intern, the only stylist we've ever worked with, and one of my most cherished collaborators. I traveled to Guatemala and Mexico, meeting our first artisan partners. By August, the first artisan made collection launched: eight pillows, four blankets, and four rugs. It was a complete whirlwind. MINNA existed in my apartment where I designed everything on a loom and packaged and shipped each package myself. I went to Mexico again in the fall to work on developing new things for the next season. By the end of the year we are a team of one.
By February I realized it was time to hire help. I hired my first employee, Tess, to help ship packages a few times a week from my apartment. There were pillow inserts coming out of the closets! By June, I moved upstate and MINNA got our first studio outside of my home. Margaret joined the team part-time. The collection expanded, and we began working in Uruguay. I traveled to Mexico once this year. By the end of the year we are a team of two: Margaret and I.
We opened a store this year! The space was big enough that we were able to have our studio and fulfillment space in the back and a retail space in the front. The team grew some more as we required additional retail and fulfillment support. Late this year I officially stopped freelancing! This was a scary decision but it was time for me to put all my energy into MINNA. I took three production trips this year: one to Guatemala and two to Mexico - one where my Mom tagged along! By the end of the year we are a team of three: Margaret, Erina, and I.
This year the team expanded from three to five! I took three production trips this year: one to Guatemala, one to Mexico where Margaret came, and a three-week trip to Uruguay and Peru. We began working with a wholesale showroom this year, which really expanded our retail partnerships. Sam joined the team as our summer intern. By the end of the year we are a team of five: Margaret, Madi, Paige, Chrissy, and I.
In March I took Katie, George, and Reggie (our photo team) to Oaxaca to document some of our production. I continued on to Chiapas to work on additional product development: our first collection of Bedding! We launched the first Peru collection. In June, Sam came back to work with us. We went on our first team retreat, and our advisor Holly Howard joined us. By the end of the year we are a team of six: Margaret, Paige, Sam, Lucille, Fiona, and I.
We all know that this was the weirdest year ever. We started off 2020 with a LOT of plans. We moved into our first warehouse space, bringing the studio and our fulfillment space outside the shop. The shop footprint more than doubled! I was supposed to go on a 3-month trip to Mexico that unfortunately gets cut short after 3 weeks. We stayed home, we tried to figure out how to exist in a time of crisis, we somehow still launched new product, raised money for BLM, and focused on supporting the team by offering healthcare. We brought on two more advisors: Amy Chender and Manpreet Kalra. By the end of the year, we are a team of nine: Margaret, Sam, Lucille, Autumn, Andiyah, Rhonda, Cate, Fiona, and I.
Today we are a still team of nine: Sam, Autumn, Rhonda, Cate, Fiona, Charlie, Suzanne, Sarah, and I. We have formalized a leadership team and advisory. We've expanded to nearly every room of the home with our collection of bedding, pillows, rugs, blankets, kitchen and dining textiles, baskets, and most recently dog beds. Next year we've got big plans - which we'll tell you about soon. :) It was hard to condense the past eight years into 8 small paragraphs. Building a business is no small feat - it takes literal blood, sweat, and, trust me, a lot of tears. Thanks for coming along on this journey with us.