2016 Year in Review: BSD by the Numbers


So last year I shared a few facts about how much BSD has grown over the past year. I love to set goals in order to dream big and challenge myself. And what better way to share in the joy in reaching those goals than to share them with others.

2016 wrapped up what will soon to be our second year in business.  It’s hard for me to believe that BSD has been around for that long. I still feel like we are somewhat of a new business even though we have grown a ton this year.

Here’s a few amazing things that happened to us this year…

Our little company grew from a business of 1 to a business of 3! That’s right! My right hand woman, big time encourager and official COO, Mgeni Jumbe joined BSD back in March this year just when I was starting to get so overwhelmed that I had thoughts of quitting (ok, maybe not quitting, but at least taking some time off. Then in November, we hired testing coordinator (and the only person I have found that may actually be more picky than me about pattern details) Danielle Oliver. It’s so much fun having a team of talented ladies to keep me motivated. Our group is super positive, and because of that I think we get a lot more done and are super successful. Plus all that positivity just makes you feel good!

We had more than 530,000 page views in 2016 at the time of this writing.  Holy smokes, guys! That’s more than half a MILLION! Numbers like that seem incredible for any site, let alone mine! A lot of that traffic came from our post 15 Bad Sewing Habits You Need to Quit Doing that went viral back in January and February.

We had over 3100 orders in 2016!  This is over a 200% increase from last year! I think us simply getting our name out more made a huge difference in the the amount of new customers we got.

We have over 4500 members in our Facebook Group! This is almost a 240% increase over last year!  Even more exciting, we now have over 3,300 followers on Instagram! This is over a 1300% increase over last year! Yes, that’s not a typo.

We released 14 patterns in 2016 including 3 ladies patterns! That brings our total pattern library up to 25. And being that we currently have 5 patterns in various stages of production, its looking like 2017 is going to be another busy year!

Goals for 2017

I am a huge goal maker. It’s the main reason why I think we accomplish so much. So here is what I am hoping to accomplish in 2017.

Release more patterns: Now that BSD is now a team instead of just one person, I am hoping to release 2 patterns a month for a total of 24 patterns for the year.  That will basically double our current pattern library. We are currently on track to meet that goal for January and February already.

Blog More: This was also a goal for 2016, and while it started out great, I lost momentum halfway through the year. That being said, we still blogged more in 2016 than we did in 2015.  I’d like to continue that trend into next year.

Give Back: I want to release two free patterns next year. This is something we are already working on and I cannot wait for when we can share the official details with everyone.

Take Care of Myself: This is both a personal and a business goal. I did a crappy job of this in 2016. I was working too much and too hard and ended up with mono which took me over half the year to get over. 2017, I want to take care of myself and rest when I know I need it. I know my kids will appreciate that too.

What are some of your 2016 accomplishments and 2017 goals?  Let me know in the comments!

Melissa Prendergast
Bella Sunshine Designs

10 Things Only a Seamstress Can Understand

10 Things Only a Seamstress Can Understand - Man I can relate to a lot of these since I started sewing!

I never realized it, but apparently us creative types think differently than the rest of the world. For some reason I cannot understand, the rest of the world doesn’t get excited over $2 a yard fleece fabric or finding the perfect buttons for the dress you are making. This sparked a thought… what other things can only a seamstress understand?

10 Things Only a Seamstress Can Understand

10 Things Only a Seamstress Can Understand - Man I can relate to a lot of these since I started sewing!

1. The fear of someone else using your sewing scissors for something other than fabric.

You know that panic you get when you see your husband use your prized Gingher sewing scissors
to cut the tag off his new shirt? Its the feeling you have right before you think of all the different ways you might retaliate for this horrendous offence.

2. The problem of having thread, EVERYWHERE!

You stand in line at the grocery store. You happen to glance down at your shirt and realize that your shirt looks like it was attached by a thread spool.  Apparently this is a problem that only happens to seamstresses.

10 Things Only a Seamstress Can Understand - Man I can relate to a lot of these since I started sewing!

3. The feeling of pure satisfaction when you finish your project right before the bobbin runs out.

You won. You showed that bobbin thread who was boss!

10 Things Only a Seamstress Can Understand - Man I can relate to a lot of these since I started sewing!

4. The love hate relationship you have with your seam ripper.

Your dear, beloved seam ripper.  She is there for you in your time of need, but you wish you didn’t need her quite so often.

5. The feeling of pride when a complete stranger says they like something you’ve made.

Who is amazing?  YOU are amazing!

6. The feeling of elation when you tell that complete stranger that you made the item they are ogling over.

Not only do you know that you are amazing, now THEY know that you’re amazing.  Just give them a few moments to pick their jaw off the floor so they can bask in your amazingness.

10 Things Only a Seamstress Can Understand - Man I can relate to a lot of these since I started sewing!

7. The joy of getting a new sewing machine/serger/sewing tool.

You’ve been drooling over it forever! And now it’s here!  Yippee!!

8. Feeling like a little kid at Christmas when that custom fabric you ordered finally shows up in the mail.

Because you only ordered it what feels like 5 million years ago. Now to wash it and fold it up all pretty so you can stare at it on your fabric stash until you finally get brave enough to cut into it (which by the way, that may never happen.)

9. The annoyance when you see something sold in the stores that was made in china and the stripes don’t match.

Ugh. How can anyone not be annoyed by that?

10 Things Only a Seamstress Can Understand - Man I can relate to a lot of these since I started sewing!

10. The confidence that you get when you make your stripes (or pattern) match.

That’s because you can sew like a boss!

Did I forget one?? What else are thoughts that only seamstresses have? Let me know in the comments and your response might make a future list!

Princess Isabella and Cabbage Patch Lilly

October is a busy time around here.  Given that my girls’ birthdays are 5 days apart on top of the fact that Halloween is then only weeks away, I go until I run out of gas.  I have had very little time to work lately, but that doesn’t mean I’ve had a lack of things to do.  On top of planning a Mickey Mouse themed birthday party, I made Isabella a much requested Cinderella dress for Halloween.

Now let me stop right now.  I have a confession.  I do not like sewing princess dresses.  Now I’m not one of those that are against princess culture.  I am a girly girl and princesses tend to come with the territory.  They just don’t inspire me much.  There are loads of pattern out there for princess dresses and I just don’t feel like I could add much to what is already existing.  That also leads me to my second confession: I HATE sewing costumes.  I know, I know.  That goes against all sacred oaths of moms that sew, but honestly, I hate it.  To be honest, I’m really not sure why.  I guess my biggest part is because I spend hours upon hours of time and materials for them to wear them twice.  A friend of mine said once my littles get old enough to play dress up that will change.  I hope so.  Either way, when a little girl looks at your with her big brown eyes and says, “Mommy, I want to be Cinder-wella for Hawoween,” you move heaven and earth to make that happen.  I know.  I’m a mom.  Which also means I’m a sucker for making my kids happy.  Dang it.  I guess that meant I was making a princess costume.

Now in hindsight, I should have done the practical thing that any mom who doesn’t sew would have done and dragged my butt down to the Disney store and bought a Cinderella dress.  Yea, that isn’t what happened.  The other thing I should have done was just bought a pattern for a Cinderella dress from one of my designer friends that already had all the kinks worked out.  Yea, again, that isn’t what happened.  I’m a glutton for punishment I guess.

In my head, I didn’t want to make Isabella a dress.  I wanted to make her a top and a skirt.  You see, we are on the tail end of potty training.  While Isabella rarely has an accident, we do still have moments of, “I’ve got to go, and I’ve got to go right NOW.”  Not the easiest problem to have when you are wearing a big puffy ballgown.  I thought making the bottom a skirt would be easier.  So that’s what I did.

I must say this is probably the most “homemade” garment I’ve ever made.  My finishes are a little rough, my stitches are a little wonky, but for the two times she will wear it along with my complete disdain for sewing princess costumes, it will do. Unfortunately the bottom “V” of the bodice in combination of the puffiness of the skirt makes the bodice bunch up and not always lay nice.  Now if I planned to make this into a pattern to sell, I would fix it.  But since it’s for Halloween and I was so relieved to be done with this project, I am not.  ha ha.  My daughter doesn’t care, so night do I.

After spending hours making my oldest princess a princess dress, I decided to do the practical thing and bought my baby Lilly a dress for her Cabbage Patch wig I bought off Etsy.  On a side note, the wig was totally worth the price paid if only for the pure joy of watching her crawl around with it on.  She looks hilarious.  So much so, that we even went out to dinner the other night with her wearing it just to get laughs from people around us.  Not many people expect to see a baby with a yarn wig on their head, even if it is October.

Enough with my rambling, let’s get to the good stuff.  We took the kiddos to pick out pumpkins at the pumpkin patch (which really is just an excuse to dress them up and take their picture.)  And the cuteness of the photos makes it all worth the effort.

Halloween-Portraits-web-001 Halloween-Portraits-web-005 Halloween-Portraits-web-004 Halloween-Portraits-web-003 Halloween-Portraits-web-002

Adorable, right?  Ok moms, what did you end up making your kids for Halloween this year?  Let me know in the comments.

Why today is a big day. I never thought this would ever be possible.

Today is a huge day, you guys.  Maybe not on the BSD side (ok not completely true), but definitely on the personal side of my life.  Today at 3:30pm, my husband and I are buying a piece of land to build our forever home on!  The word excited doesn’t even begin to describe what I’m feeling.  This has been a dream of ours since we started dating, and an active goal we’ve been moving towards for over a year now.  So to officially finalize the first part of that process feels surreal.  It really is a dream come true.

I think one of the things I’m most eager about is that in our new home we have plans for an incredible workspace for BSD.  Plans that will that include a real office which seems amazing considering that I am currently typing away in my living room with Disney Junior blaring in the background and a pair of little feet begging me for her fourth round of breakfast as I try to make a coherent thought. Also in the plans is a GIANT sewing room.  Really, it’s more like a sewing loft.  Ok, maybe even a sewing FLOOR!  Can’t you just imagine what you would do with all that room?  I mean, isn’t it obvious?  Buy more fabric!

I know I keep saying this, but there are so many secret things in the works in the background right now that I can’t hardly contain myself.  Buying our property is the first crucial step to that entire process.  I’m sure I will be blogging a lot throughout the process, and I hope not to bore you with all my home construction excitement.  Until then, I leave you with this picture of Isabella and I on our new land.

Why today is a big day.  I never thought this would ever be possible.

And another unrelated note (I’m full of random thoughts today,) I plan on actually doing a lot more blogging in the future.  I have a lot of great content written up for you guys, so be sure to check the blog often so you don’t miss anything.

Fear: Don’t let it run your life or your business

My very first ever pdf sewing pattern, the Bow Tie Leggings & Shorts released exactly a month ago today. in light of that, I’m going to switch gears here for a second and get personal. I’ve been talking with a few people since I started on this journey, and I’ve made several friends along the way. I’ve shared bits and pieces with fans, but not as much as I have with those customers, testers, and designers that I’ve gotten close to. Candice Ayala at CandiceAyala.com told me that she thought my story was inspiring.  I was a little taken aback. Me? Inspiring? I felt like she was giving me too much credit. She insisted that if I would just be raw, I could help inspire a lot of other people to achieve their dreams.

I think what it comes down to, is a lot of us are afraid. Afraid of failure. Afraid of trying. Afraid of being ignored. Afraid of what we will do if someone actually does pay attention. Afraid of success.

I know I was. While I just launched my first pattern a month ago, it actually took me a year to get to that point. I had a million excuses as to why I didn’t want to release anything yet. First it was that I wanted to get the pattern drafting perfected. Mind you, I have been sewing and creating clothing since I was 9. My grandmother was taught how to draft by her sister who was a professional dressmaker in Oklahoma. She taught me when I was a child. It’s an art that is somewhat lost. But that was my excuse that was working for a while.

Then I drafted my first blocks, and they fit perfectly. But I didn’t feel like I knew how to use the digital software well. You would think using Adobe software for the 6 years that I owned a professional photography business that I would have had multiple opportunities to learn the software. But that was the excuse that was working for a while.

Then I got pregnant. Who can launch a business while they are pregnant? Well, actually a lot of people do. But that was my excuse that was working for a while.

Then I had a baby. Who can manage to find time to work with a newborn in the house? I needed to get into a routine first. That was my excuse that was working for a while.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Then we hit 2015. And I realized that I had spent an entire year making excuses as to why I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do. A WHOLE YEAR! And other than draft a few patterns, I hadn’t released a single thing. I still had a dream. But I had a big problem in my way…

I was afraid. I was afraid that I would release something, put my heart and soul into it, and that others would hate it. That once again, I wouldn’t be good enough. The fear was polarizing me and holding me back from what I really wanted to do.

Then one day, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and I saw this…

Fear: Don't let it run your life or your businessI feel like it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was totally true. I was in a prison. I was never going to do anything until I jumped in and just did it.

So that’s what I did. Despite having had 4 other patterns drafted, I decided to start fresh. I signed up to be featured on Pattern Revolution to keep me accountable, and I designed the Holiday Cutout Dress & Top. I made my own illustrations, created the instructions, and finalized everything so it would be ready for testers. I was so scared when I put out that testing call that no one would apply. After I posted the call, I had 8 people signed up within the first 15 minutes. I ended up with 60 people total by the end of the day. I was shocked. People actually wanted to work with me despite the fact that I was a brand new designer. Maybe this is surprising to you, but I had no real faith in myself. And the whole time, I kept seeing these messages being posted by friends…

Fear: Don't let it run your life or your businessI was definitely outside of my comfort zone. Truth be told, I scheduled the test way too early. Once again I was doubting myself. I could just see all the testers completely hating me because I had wasted their time because nothing was fitting right, so I wanted to give myself plenty of time to redraft if needed. When I sent out the email to have people join the test, my stomach was in knots.  I could have thrown up I was so nervous. But I had decided that this was my year. I wasn’t going to let fear hold me back anymore. And I did it.

Fear: Don't let it run your life or your businessMy testers were raving about my pattern. Once again, I was stunned. They liked my work. And every size fit exactly as I had planned. I had one minor adjustment to do to the neckline for the smaller sizes, but overall, there were very few edits. I just couldn’t believe that things were going so well. So I pushed forward. I designed and tested the Bow Tie Leggings & Shorts pattern.  We had a few hiccups that required a second round of testing, but overall, the finalized pattern as well received. I released it a month ago today as my very first pattern. I was so proud of myself.

I called my mom the instant I sold my first copy (Shout out to Alyssa Carrion of Calm & Carrion! She was my very first sale.) I was giddy. I had made $6, and you would have thought that someone had paid me a million. That’s how I felt. I couldn’t believe that I had let fear hold me back an entire year. Only because I didn’t believe in myself, and I was scared of failing.

Fear: Don't let it run your life or your business

So a month later after the official launch of my business, and things are going so much better than I ever could have hoped for. I’ve had over 400 people download my patterns, and gotten over 11,000 page views on my site. I may not be making a living at this yet, but I’m well on my way.

The purpose of this blog isn’t to boast. It’s not to say, “Hey, look at me! Look at what I did!” The purpose of this post is to inspire someone else to just jump.

Fear: Don't let it run your life or your business

Just jump. That’s all you have to do to get to where you want to be. Yes, it will be a lot of work. Yes, it will be terrifying. Yes, some people may even hate it. But guess what? A lot of people may just end up loving it. You will never make it if you don’t make that first step. And after you make that first one, make the second, then the third. And then all of a sudden you will look around, and be exactly where you wanted to be all along.

Seriously, start. And do it today.