Is there still a party? The future of Oh Squirrel party accessories.•
Posted on September 21 2020
How do we feel about Hen Parties? I know that in 2020, it's likely you may not have been to any, and if you did they were probably virtual.
Hen Party accessories accidentally became the biggest part of Oh Squirrel for a few years. They started like many products in the business, something I made for a friend... that a few years later I made for another friend, popped a photo online, and then they just took off. And saying 'just' is an understatement - there were times a few years ago when they were pretty much the main thing I made. They've been featured in some of the top wedding blogs and magazines over the years, and I've had the privilege of making them for some pretty cool people.
Now, here is something you may not be expecting a business owner to say, especially a business owner who has just told you that this is a successful product for their business... I'm not entirely sure how I feel about sashes any more. Their historical and social relevance aside, are they... necessary?! Is any of the extra stuff you buy for a party necessary?
The answer is... yes. But it's also no. Basically, it's entirely up to you! If you've attended a virtual hen party this year, the Bride may have been wearing a sash, and that was a lovely way to signal that is was their special day.
There are lots of questions to be asked about waste when it comes to party accessories, and it's something that's been nagging me for a while. During the Summer of 2020, the amount of party accessory orders dwindled to pretty much nothing, so it gave me the headspace to decide what the future is for this side of the business. It's going to mean some big changes - these are things I'm going to implement in 2021. Some of them I would love to do immediately, but as a one person business I need to be realistic, as most of these things will mean investing in new photography and assets, and also lots of planning and learning.
I'm also very interested in the gendered aspect of hen and stag parties. Personally I feel completely and utterly over the idea of them being split into to gendered parties. This is a much bigger conversation than now, but one I would like to be part of. Do you feel that this all feels quite old fashioned now?
So, here are my plans for the future of Oh Squirrel party accessories:
They're going. They're going away, having a bit of a makeover and then coming back. I will be changing the fabric sashes to have a big emphasis on them being heirloom pieces, as whether it's a birthday, hen or baby shower sash, what's the point in it only being able to be worn once? I say this with a great big pinch of salt, as I have so many customers tell me they've worn them countless times up until (and during!) their wedding day - this is exactly what I want to encourage! I want you to love the sash so much you wear it every day, then either frame it, pop it in a box to pass to a future relative or pass onto your best friend. To do this I will be amending the way I print them and offering keepsake boxes too.
These changes will go live next year, and I'll keep you updated as to when they're ready. I'm truly excited about this - I know it's setting the business up to self fewer sashes, but that's fine by me!
I will also be looking at purchasing more deadstock fabric to make them with, using vintage fabrics and small runs too to make them extra special. I want to make it very clear on all product listings that sashes are for every adult, and as a small independent business I am very happy to accommodate different sizes, as there isn't a 'standard' body size. I run this side of the business as 'on demand' so there's never huge stocks of premade sashes to be printed on - you order it, I cut, sew, print and post it to you!
Now, moving on to the ribbon sashes. I have decided that once I have sold through the rolls of ribbon I currently have, I will not be purchasing any more.
These sashes are beautiful, fun and great quality... but they're not long lasting in the same way as the fabric ones, so I've decided it's time to put them to bed. I do have quite a bit of ribbon stock still, so I don't imagine they will sell out until late 2021, but it's something I've given a lot of thought to and made this decision for the best.
When I first started selling hen party badges, there were very few other options available - I am very proud of how popular they are, and know they helped the trend change from personalised t-shirts to something more subtle like badges.
The personalisation on the badges has been so popular. It's easy for me to do, and really enjoyable too, and I know it helps hen party participants to learn names and feel a bit special.
The badges are made to order (with the exception of the heart shaped ones and f%%%ing sash' ones) which is great as the components are the stock, so there's very little waste involved in them. That is unless after the party you throw your badge away.
Now, I've been thinking about this. How about if I could offer to take the badges back after the party, break the badges down and recycle / reuse the components? I feel very good about this idea and it's entirely possible! I know that plenty of people will want to keep them, which is great, but it's something that in 2021 I will be offering as a service once I can implement the logistics on it.
Other party accessories
This is still all top secret, but there will be new products next year, the party accessories side of the business isn't going away - I'm just going to be designing new products with an emphasis on making sure they're something that can be used / worn / displayed again and again. These products spread joy and I think now more than ever that's pretty important! It's a big hint here... but let's think about the background on your virtual parties, which look as wonderful on the screen as they do in your home...
I would be very interested to hear your thoughts and opinions on this. As so many Oh Squirrel customers return again and again to buy sashes, I know the quality is appreciated and the product is good, so I want to continue to build on this for the future.
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