Hello Dear Friends of FINDRA
A Happy New Year to you all! I hope you have all enjoyed a great festive period.
As we head into a new year, I always like to look back at the previous year and reflect on all that happened, asking myself how did it compare to what I planned or wished for? Did I achieve what I hoped I would, was it fun, how did I handle the tough stuff and most importantly, what have I learned?
So, before we launch into 2023 here is a wee round up on all that happened in 2022!
Having survived and come out the other side of a global pandemic, I thought and hoped 2022 would be a calmer year, with less disruption and more time to plan a little get things done, and look ahead. How wrong I was!
2022 had other ideas! A perfect storm of events had been brewing, that would impact us all on a personal and business level.
An energy crisis, a supply chain crisis, a cost-of-living crisis caused in part by a rise in inflation the UK. The economic impact of foreign issues such as the Covid 19 Pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the post Brexit trade issues have all taken their toll in one way or another directly impacting households and businesses across the UK and across the world.
It was clear by the end of February that any thought of 2022 being an uneventful and straight forward year were foolhardy!
2022, was the year that would test our resolve, a year of relentless challenges both in my personal and business life, from start to finish.
A year of two halves
January kicked off on a positive note, well sort of if you choose to see turning 50 as a positive! Big birthdays always feel like real milestones, and in many ways I felt pretty happy to embrace the big five O!
As we headed into 2022 we made our plans at FINDRA for the year ahead, and in February set out our goals and ambitions, but 2022 had other plans, we just didn't know it then.
In March whilst on a week’s holiday in Holland, I was told the very sad and unexpected news that my Chairman of FINDRA Douglas Needham had passed away suddenly following a massive heart attack. Douglas was a true gentleman; he had worked in the Textiles and Clothing Industry his whole life and our paths had crossed at various points throughout our careers. From day 1 Douglas was a fan of FINDRA and of me, he believed in me and my vision and quietly and steadily supported me and my vision over the previous 6 years.
The week before Douglas passed away, he had spent some time with me and the team at FINDRA discussing the year ahead, the news of his passing was a massive shock, and really pulled the rug from under me and I felt his loss immediately. There was, no doubt things felt a bit out to sea. And this was not, unfortunately the only sad news to come my way in 2022.
On the 2nd of April, my lovely dad passed away, he was 87 and frail but his passing was not expected and happened very quickly in the end. Myself and my 3 sisters however were able to be with him, this was an enormous privilege for us, so many people in the previous 2 years who lost loved ones didn’t get the opportunity to say goodbye and for us it meant so much and made letting go a little easier.
My dad passing, was another great blow to me, he was such a strong and positive character and influence in my life, always encouraging me to ‘give it go’ work hard and try things out.
He was a great believer that through taking positive action and facing challenges head on, you could and would find a way around them or through them. I have had many conversations with him in these last 8 months asking him what he would do and then channeling his positive spirit and determination into my own problem solving. I miss him daily.
Sadly, it was not the last death we faced, my partner Roddy also lost his mum Sheena who was 90, Sheena had been suffering from dementia for several years, she passed away in July,
And of course, whether you were a fan of the Royal Family – the loss of the Queen, came as a great shock to us all, an incredible woman, a stoic and positive role model to many, her loss was felt across the globe by many.
The second half.
Only just over halfway and what a strange, disruptive, and unsettling year it was proving to be, how can you plan or prepare for years like this in life or business!
It wasn’t just personal loss that made things difficult in 2022, we were also going through a period of change within the business, with a lot of our original plans up in the air, we had to find ways to manage the disruption and chaos and find a way to navigate the unpredictable.
What is it they say about the 7-year itch….
Like the big old oak tree, the only way to deal with the storm is to embrace it and sway with the wind, whilst digging deep into your roots and staying strong.
Fortunately, it wasn’t all negative in 2022, there were some great positives too, as a team we had settled into our new Walkerburn location, we are getting to grips with our systems that we implemented in 2021 and having the Innerleithen shop back up and running again was great. We always enjoy seeing our customers face to face and getting their feedback and chat!
Despite the many challenges there were some great highlights in 2022, we were shortlisted for and won 2 awards in the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, one for Innovation in business and the other for Micro business of the year, it felt good to be back out mixing with other business owners and having the opportunity to catch up, it was a fun night.
Winning awards doesn’t take away all the problems we face as a business, or guarantee ongoing success, it doesn’t protect us from the challenges or mean everything is perfect. For me, applying for awards is an opportunity for myself and my team to step back, stop and reflect on the journey we have all been on. It gives us the chance to recognise all the great stuff that together we have made happen, the challenges you have faced and allows you to acknowledge all the bold, brave, and positive choices you have made that enable you and your team to drive the business forward despite the forces that go against you.
Kendal Mountain Film Festival Event
In November we headed back to our favourite event, the KMFF. Based in Kendal, this has always been a favourite event for team FINDRA. This was also our first outing in 3 years, due to the pandemic and KMFF did not disappoint. The event itself has grown massively since it was founded in 1980.
It was wonderful to be there and see our customers face to face, we also ran a “discover your outdoor spirit’ talk with some fantastic panel members like Athena Mellor, and Jo Moseley who shared with us their joy of getting outdoors and what that means to them.
And of course, we introduced some lovely new products, from merino wool goodies to new shorts made from a fantastic lightweight recycled 4 ways stretch, designing and producing great product is a key part of what we do at FINDRA nothing makes me happier than a day in the studio designing sustainable, stylish, and versatile clothing that we can all wear to enjoy our time in the outdoors.
And the good stuff!
And of course, we managed to get outdoors, not quite as much as we would have liked but still, we did manage some great bike rides, outdoor swims and winter walks, and Roddy and myself had a very nice trip to Majorca in the summer and enjoyed some amazing road biking. One of which was cycling the famous and very beautiful Cap de Formentor, the climb is incredible, and the landscape is both stunning and slightly terrifying, especially the drops! Described as possibly the best 40km rode cycle routes in Europe, it's one of Mallorca's most beautiful and famous routes. We also headed off on some more low-key trips too finding some gorgeous little secret beaches en-route, and the sea was incredible!
Time outdoors always lifts the spirits and helps give perspective to any problem, I am a great believer that the connection to nature really does help realign our thinking and helps us face life with a better healthier approach.
So, in what can only be described as an “annus horribillis!” there have been some great moments and some not-so-great ones. But that’s life, the real test is how you manage the problems and how you choose to overcome them.
As we say goodbye to 2022 and look ahead to 2023, I feel positive that whatever comes out way we will embrace it head on with the strength of the old oak tree, rooted but still able to sway with the wind.
The FINDRA Family
As always, I want to take this opportunity to thank you our customers, as we continue to grow and expand and welcome lots of lovely new Friends of FINDRA to our family. In challenging times like we have experienced in 2022 it's your positive comments and emails that has got us through and kept us focused on the vision – to design great products and encourage more people to get outdoors and enjoy all that nature has to offer whilst also finding ways to protect it.
I say it often but it’s so true, without you FINDRA would be but a dream!
A massive thanks to all of you for all your support encouragement and well wishes, it really does mean the world to us.
Alex & Team FINDRA x