2020 was a year for the record books. As we reviewed our biggest stories of the year, it was overwhelming how many there were. This was a nonstop news year! So perhaps it makes sense that we count just being able to keep going as a success. One of the first self-taught business lessons we learned some years ago, is that half the success of business is just staying in business. So day-in, day-out, we kept the business open. Making and shipping your orders made us feel useful as we sheltered in place, worked from home, kept informed on what was going on in the world and did our best to give back, went to bed and did it again the next day.
This is our 2020 year in review:
Right at the beginning of the year, on January 5th, we had a personal tragedy, losing a great shop cat, Huskey. Huskey kept the workshop mouse-free and was a part of our family for 12 years, as long as our marriage. It was a terrible start to the year, and we wrote a moving tribute to him on our blog.
During the year, we brought in two new shop cats, Best and Tanuki, father-and-daughter hypoallergenic Siberian forest cats. We even created their own Instagram feed with more cat photos for your quarantine enjoyment.
We tracked the many developments of the year on our blog, with our ever-evolving Note on COVID-19 as we tried our best to do the right things and give back in a tough year. Beginning in March, we:
- Stayed at home under a self-imposed, highly conservative shelter-in-place
- Donated our N95 woodworking masks to front-line medical workers
- Raised money for No Kid Hungry
- Donated leather to Help Heal Vets for free craft kits for veterans
- Mailed out free leather bookmark craft kits to quarantined families around the world
- Gave our time and talents to local hunger and black-led social justice organizations on the North Oregon Coast
- Held a site-wide sale since the beginning of lockdown (our first ever) for our Walnut community
- Advocated for #BlackLivesMatter, #StopHateforProfit, the Portland protests, the USPS, and wildland firefighters
- Voted; and we encouraged others to vote, too with free mini leather VOTE signs in October
Although it seems like social, political, and current events seemed to preoccupy most attention, throughout much of the world, local natural disasters took precedence. Here in Oregon, we survived historic Oregon wildfires, weeks of sooty air, and too many power outages to count.
That's why environmental sustainability is of utmost importance to us, and this year we were proud to announce that Walnut now offers 100% carbon-offset order shipping. Also in 2020, we planted 20 native trees on our land and eliminated single-use plastics from our packaging. We will continue to improve our always-evolving sustainability program in 2021.
Big issues dominated our thoughts. But what about the actual business we do, the products we sell? In 2020, we:
- Brought back two designs from years past: the UpCycle Cage adjustable water bottle cage for bicycles and the Jim Golden Art Poster.
- Introduced 2 new colors of the Bicycle Print Bandana, one of our most popular products this year: a mask substitute that was available even when PPE was scarce.
- Introduced a new hardware color for our our entire line of leather drawer pulls: Matte Black.
- Improved our Drawer Pull hardware kits, which now fit a wider range of surface thicknesses.
- Created a stand-alone listing for our sturdy, weatherproof Waxed Thread, which is useful for whip-tyingthe ends of leather bar wraps.
- Updated our Travel Cribbage Gift Sets with a new deck of cards: the Bicycle 1885 deck, with gold accents and vintage bike-y fun.
Turning to 2021
Everybody is glad to turn the page on 2020 and thinking hopeful thoughts for 2021. Here are some encouraging trends we see:
- Surge in cycling.Bicycles and city bicycle infrastructure are rising in esteem as an important transportation option during pandemics. In New York City for example, they were hurrying to install bicycle infrastructure that bicycle advocates have been demanding for years, as cycling becomes the best way to get around large cities while observing social distancing.
- Vaccines. COVID-19 vaccines were developed in record time. We can't wait to take ours, when it comes to our area and demographic. It may be taking longer than we'd like, and there have been difficulties with the distribution and transitions, and it will take time for everyone's vaccines to work, but nevertheless, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
- Phoenixes.Walnut was born in the Great Recession, so we know first-hand that out of destruction comes rebirth. Disasters can be catalysts for much-needed change. What kind of change do you hope to see? As IMF historian James Boughton said on the subject, "Only in a crisis are governments able to rally people to accept necessary but painful reforms. Every crisis is also an opportunity."