Hey Thriver,

It’s been a tough year.

I’ve seen so many handmade businesses struggling.

I’ve seen some close.

I’ve seen makers having to get part-time (or even-full time) jobs to stay afloat.

Truly – it’s been the most economically challenging year I’ve seen since I started my business… and that was in 2008 during the GFC!

Here in Australia, many people are struggling to pay their mortgage, put food on the table, and pay their rent (or even FIND somewhere to rent).

I saw a lot of this coming in the last quarter of 2022, and Nick & I started to put some strategies in place in our own lives and business plans to weather the storm that was coming – and it has.

I wanted to reflect on this situation as the year draws to a close.

It’s impacted us financially – we’ve seen our jewellery sales drop a LOT this year, even while I’ve been putting in more work than previously to market our designs.

My expectations that it would be a lower revenue year for the jewellery biz have panned out.

When you sell a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’ item, cost of living blowouts really do impact your bottom line.

Our other income streams have remained reasonably steady, and we’ve been able to add revenue via a few channels, as well as finally re-opening our Airbnb that we closed when COVID hit (we rent out a granny flat attached to our house).

Some of you might be able to relate to the challenges I’ve written about here.

And if you can, I wanted to remind you that you’re not alone.

That’s it’s not just you.

It’s not something you’re doing wrong.

The economy truly is causing issues for so many businesses out there that are seeing massive downturns compared to previous years – and not just small businesses, but large corporations, too.

If you only started your business recently, I wanted to remind you – it will get better.

If you started during COVID times, I wanted to remind you that this was a true blip in the history of online sales, and it’s had a profound impact on how people shop – but that many people have gone back to shopping via in-person retail.

COVID also saw a HUGE increase in the number of people running online businesses in a way that’s never happened before.

And of course – more people selling means more competition.

Etsy has had a big impact on this, too.

It’s not the platform it once was. In fact, they’ve had a bad year, too, and have had to lay off 225 employees.

If you were paying attention to all the cash coupons they have been giving shoppers to spend on the site over the last few months, this probably won’t come as a huge surprise.

Actions like that are a sign of a retailer in trouble.

I and many others hold out hope that they’ll turn the ship around and remember what they are supposed to be (what they still claim to be, to the contrary of what sellers and buyers are experiencing) – a platform for unique, handmade, designer goods (and vintage and supplies) but that hope is truly fading.

In short, 2023 has been a tough time to be a small handmade business owner.

Before we dive into 2024 with optimism – because I can’t do anything but – I just wanted to take this pause and acknowledge the difficulties we have all faced this year.

In the first week of January, I’m going to share a video and podcast that will help you reflect on how 2023 went for your biz, so I also want you to keep what I’ve said today in mind if the answers and numbers aren’t what you were hoping for at the beginning of 2023.

The external circumstances might lead you to the conclusion that this isn’t the right time for you to continue (or start) your business.

Of course, I can’t tell you that you shouldn’t give up on your business (much as I want to!).

Maybe you should. Maybe it’s the right call for you right now. (And remember – right now doesn’t mean forever.)


If you still have the drive, desire, financial ability, and time to work on your business in 2024, I want to encourage you to KEEP GOING.

I’ve been in businesses for 15 years now.

From this long-term perspective, I wanted to remind you – and myself – that it will get better out there!

As always, I hope that you

Keep Thriving,

Jess x

P.S. Thriver Circle members, I have posted this essay for discussion in the group if you’d like to share your thoughts. Or you can share your thoughts on this post over on Instagram here.

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