What a year it's been. Quite frankly, we'll be glad to wave goodbye to 2020, it's been a bit of a shocker for both people and planet! That said, among the lows, we've had many highs.. and we've got a lot to feel positively about. So, in the spirit of always looking for the positives (but also firmly putting 2020 in the past) join us as we take a look back at an unforgettable year.
Anna and Will flew to San Fran to help spread the UpCircle story in the USA.. Weeks before borders began to close. UpCircle is now available in the states via Ulta, Credo and Whole Foods! Yeehaw!
Note to self, in 2021 try to locate a travel companion who isn't asleep the whole time!
HOW DO YOU ACCESSORISE?
We build out the UpCircle Accessories range with the release of our bamboo cotton buds, reusable plastic-free safety razor and our organic muslin cloths. The popularity of these products showed us the value of offering not just sustainable skincare products, but also the added extras that we often use with them!
The world is hit by a pandemic that no one could have predicted. Our office is back to a team of two, and we pivot our product offering with the release of a brand new hand wash. For each unit sold we donate £1 to domestic abuse charity Refuge due to the worrying rise in reports of domestic violence since lockdowns began.
We also sent THOUSANDS of pamper parcels out to the NHS as a token of gratitude to those working on the frontline.
ONLINE SALES SOAR
Up until this point Anna had been packing up all of the orders herself from our railway arch location. However, whilst we knew that this couldn’t go on much longer the sharp increase in orders as the country, and the world, stayed home, meant that we took the big step to outsource our order fulfilment.
This is a huge decision, and there were some bumps to overcome in the first couple of months that followed - but we’re relieved to be able to share the responsibility with more hands!! And more space!
THE “STAY IN STOCK” BATTLE BEGINS
Our circular economy ethos relies on the functioning of other industries for the creation of the by-products that we use in our products. Our signature coffee scrub range for example is made up of coffee grounds that we collect from cafes all over London. With almost all of those coffee shops closed for the majority of the year, paired with the increase in demand for our products, we face a huge challenge keeping our products in stock.
We don our entrepreneurial caps, continue to think outside the box, and just about manage it… through varied and imaginative means. All while working with the many distractions of home life surrounding us!
NEW HURDLES, NEW HURDLERS
As we navigate the many challenges that 2020 throws at us, we decide to bring in some new team members to assist! All via Zoom interviews we grow from a team of three to a team of eight between April and June.
With events and flights being cancelled from March onwards everything moves online. In 2019 Anna would average one podcast a month, this year it’s at least one a week!
ANOTHER NEW HOME
In 2019 we moved from our parents’ house to a railway arch, in 2020 we’ve outgrown our location once again! We move into a swanky new office by the riverside.
JULY - OCTOBER
SCOOPING UP AWARDS
It’s been a big year for awards, particularly towards the end of the year. We proudly received awards from Get the Gloss, The Independent, Women’s Running, Psychologies, Natural Products, Blue Patch, The Federation of Small Business and Creative Impact Co as well as being shortlisted by giants like Vogue and Glamour!
PHOTOSHOOT UNITES THE TEAM!
To prepare for our upcoming product launches we book in a three day photoshoot. Day one includes a new team photo.. most of whom we’ve barely met, or at the least haven’t met each other. A surreal, but wonderful experience being able to come together and celebrate all the hard work we’ve each been putting in from home!
We release THREE brand new products featuring FIVE repurposed ingredients! We’re back on Zoom for a virtual press launch!
November is the same every year. We all go into social hibernation (easier this year than usual) whilst we embark on Black Friday and Christmas preparation. No member of our team is excluded from this. From marketing, to operations, to sales and finance to customer care – the workload dramatically increases for us all.
We keep our humour intact and take it day by day. It’s about now (22nd December) that things finally calm down and we can look back and be proud of the success of the season.
On the week of Black Friday Anna and William literally tag team so that someone is in the office 24/7. Thursday night Anna cycled home at 9pm as William cycles in, having put his two year old son to bed!
NOVEMBER - DECEMBER
In preparation for our departure from the EU we need to start prepping our packaging. Our branding team face the slightly painful task of adding language translations to our entire range, existing and planned. Definitely an “it’ll be worth it in the long run” kind of task!
NEW YEAR PLEASE
We’ve survived a year like no other, but it wasn’t easy! With barely a breath taken from our last product launches we’re already putting plans in place for exciting things to come in 2021. (What ingredient are we rescuing next? BIG fat obvious clue in the pics below!)
Work: Photo shoot day in September. It was the first time the whole team was together in 2020 and the first time several of us actually met face to face!!
Personal: I've never been good at work-life balance but in Lockdown 2.0 I finally found time to finish some drawings for the wall of my bedroom! I was pleased with how they turned out.
Work: Joining the UpCircle team!
Personal: Surviving this mad year by virtually catching up with friends and family online - literally keeping us all sane while we wait to see each other in person!
Work: Single-handedly setting up an entire subsidiary company in the US has to be a highlight. A huge task at the time, but now that it’s done it’s an extremely exciting step forward for us.
Personal: My wife is pregnant with our second son, I can’t wait!
Work: Definitely getting the books into over 135 primary schools across the UK for our "Back to school for All" BLM matter campaign in September.
Personal: My boyfriend's family got a collie puppy this summer, dog walks with her every weekend have brightened up a gloomy year.
What have been your highlights this year? Let us know in the comments!!
Wishing you all a very happy new year. Thanks for all the love and support through 2020, it means the world to us and keeps us motivated to keep going through the tougher times.
Here's to 2021! x