“Hooray, success”

….to quote the big Stooge himself.

2012 started off with a lot of uncertainty.  I knew there was going to be enough work for a handful of us in the shop, but with no new shows on the horizon, I was a bit itchy to say the least.  We’d been on such a great trajectory of growth the previous couple of years, I didn’t want things to plateau this year.  So, within the first couple of weeks on this year, I decided that it was time to put myself – and thus the company – out there a bit.  I chose for 2012 to be a year of risks – doing projects that weren’t necessarily lucrative, but could be interesting, or lead to something more interesting, and pursuing markets that seem that little bit out of reach.  And, at the end of the year, if nothing were to come out of it and all it meant was I lost a shitload of money, at least I knew I could say that I tried.

While there were a few dicey moments over the year, I’m happy to report that the risk was well worth it.  2012 exceeded my expectations in almost every way imaginable.  Who am I kidding?  It exceeded my expectations for the next five friggin’ years….

I invested a lot of my time in prepping an ad for a costume design publication down in the States, hoping I could draw a bit of attention from down Hollywood way.  While it felt a bit frivolous to be spending so much time on something that wasn’t necessarily going to have any payback it did mean I was off the shop floor proper and thus not taking work away from anyone there.  All told, in spite of a lot of pain and frustration the ad got done and I was really proud of the outcome.  And it was kind of wild seeing our name – and shoes – in print.  The ad is presently running in its third issue of four for the year.  I haven’t received jackshit of work from it, but the optimistic side of me says that if nothing else it might put us in the subconscious of someone who will be looking for us some day…  And I have some pretty fun sample shoes I can take with me to meetings now…

The event that really started the snowball rolling was a work trip to Belgium.  If you’ve read previous blog posts, I’m sure you know the story, so I’ll keep it brief, but while working with some friends in Belgium, it came up that a trip to London might be worthwhile as there seemed to be a few challenges on the shoe end of things there.  Well, it doesn’t take much convincing to get me to London (love it there and it had been years…) so a couple months later I was there, knocking on doors as well as meeting up with old friends and colleagues.  The reception in London – especially from those in the film scene – was unexpected positive and extremely thrilling.  By the time I got back to Canadian soil, I already started receiving orders for a few films shooting over there – and not small ones, either.  The intention of the trip was to possibly peak some interest in my company so that, maybe six or twelve months down the road, people might think to call us.  The immediate reaction was pretty amazing.  And suddenly, we were part of the London film scene.  Fuckin’ hell!

I was just back to London the week before last to do some follow up, as well as to meet with a few people I missed last trip.  It’s all pretty surreal now.  I certainly have a lot of growth to do on that front, but the introduction to the scene has been swift and exciting – if a little mind-blowing….

There have been a lot of other interesting things that have popped up since the summer as well.  Working with some good friends from abroad here in Toronto on a pretty major project has been a definite bonus – and having my crew actually seeing some of our work onstage as a result is also a fun novelty.  And of course there have been the occasional frustrations and misses, but that’s all part of the game, isn’t it?  All in all, it’s been a hell of a year.

And so…..two more pairs of shoes to finish and then I can call it a year.  The crew finished yesterday, so it’s really quiet and clean in here today.  I had to say goodbye to a couple of my team yesterday, which is always a bit sad, but I’m sure they’ll be back.  A couple well-deserved weeks off (if I do say so myself) and then we’ll see what 2013 has in store for us. My gut tells me it’s going to be another year full of surprises….  So, until then…

And now, I’m gonna hop like a frog….

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