There was no way of knowing at the end of 2019 what the onrushing train of 2020 would bring. What it became was a series of rolling disasters worldwide, including the worst pandemic that the world has seen in more than a century.
But in the midst of the of the tragedies there was courage, there was sacrifice, there was hope and there was joy - we watched many people who were faced with the very worst rise up to be their very best. Whilst few of us will look back on the year fondly, many of us will recall it with no small measure of pride.
For us, we simply could not have envisaged how the year would turn out. We ended 2019 with the vision to have 'a bag in every boardroom', but we ended 2020 with the joy of having seen 'our bags in every bedroom!' (From customer pictures and monthly Zoom parties!!)
It has most certainly been a rollercoaster of a year, full of highs & lows and learning curves. But 2020 gave us something truly special, and that was the opportunity to get to know our customers more. What started off as an idea for a virtual club to share our love of handbags, transpired into something much greater. We created a family. A community and safe space for our ladies to interact, engage and encourage.
So grab yourself a hot cuppa and take a read through the countdown of our top 10 highlights of 2020...
10. 'Ask For More' Podcast with Zara Janjua & Jenni Falconer
Back at the start of the year, before we were locked down and confined to our home, Sarah was fortunate enough to travel to London to record a podcast with media extraordinaire, Zara Janjua, and national sweetheart and radio superstar, Jenni Falconer. They discussed mental health (a topic that has been at the forefront of everyone's mind this year), headspace and finding clarity in life. As exercise enthusiasts, the ladies talked about the benefits of endorphins being released to help you through times of hardship and how they keep fit.
Why not go back and listen to the podcast here?
9. Brand partnerships
As a small brand, it's always really exciting for us to team up with other small brands on collaborations or competitions, and 2020 has given us some fantastic opportunities to work with some really cool and growing companies. This year we have worked with Studio 10, Dai, Hague Collection, Manta Hair, Calla Shoes, Lily Blanche, Moo Hair, Bee Fayre, Choc on Choc and Emma's Soaps just to name a few!
We have a very exciting project coming in the new year involving Scottish Luxury Brands, so watch this space for more news to follow soon....
8. Gaining over 1500 5 star reviews
Reviews really do mean the world to us, and not just because it makes us look good (of course, that helps!) but they provide us with invaluable feedback that help us shape the way we do things. Our business is built on providing our customers with world class service that you don't get elsewhere, and providing our customers with products that will genuinely make a positive difference to their life whilst bringing them endless joy.
Don't believe us? Read them for yourself here!
7. Being featured in the press
One of the hardest things about building a business is getting the brand name out there, so we are always incredibly grateful when we are featured in press articles or publications. This year we have been lucky enough to be featured in The Women's Chapter, f:entrepreneur, House of Coco, The Telegraph, Time & Leisure, Business Women Scotland, Business Leader and The Times.
You can see our full list of publications here.
Not only that, but we have been extremely fortunate to have had quite a few celebrities choose to wear our bags this year. Thanks to the lovely famous faces of Anthea Turner, Andrea McLean, Kate Thornton, Tonia Buxton and Jenni Falconer, our bags have been papped in several locations!
6. New product launches
2020 hasn't been shy of new products, and it has been a real joy to expand the range with new styles, colours, prints and textures. In April we launched the Dahlia Mini, which was a sellout success in dusky pink, silver, cobalt blue and black. We introduced the full sized Dahlia 2-in-1 in silver and cobalt blue in spring, then in autumn we surprised you all with storm grey, burnt orange, berry, red and cranberry.
Michelle was done in dusky pink, light grey, storm grey and burnt orange, with many of our customers buying one with a Marie to use as an oversized wallet. We brought Marie out in burnt orange and teal and have new colours booked in for our next production run in January.
We had a sizzling summer with the launch of our first ever backpack tote, Poppy, but the new releases didn't stop there. Just a month later we added our most versatile mini bag to date to the collection - Jasmine. Pompom tassels, 2-tone straps, fluffies, leather straps and a multitude of Ivy's in various colours, textures and prints also made their debut.
Autumn saw the arrival of Violet - the bag none of us knew we needed until we had it! Perfectly proportioned and made with love, it's a firm favourite that is here to stay. We reworked the Jessica to include a crossbody strap, bringing her back in new shades of tan and grey, and Iris made a show-stopping comeback in berry, duck egg, tan, bottle green, red and grey.
But we didn't just stop at bags! We launched the Jade card holder, the Primrose phone/glasses pouch, silk scarves, a charm necklace with charms, facemasks, hairbrushes and hand sanitizers.
Phew - and all this in-between planning everything new for 2021!
5. Anthea Turner as a brand ambassador
At the start of the year, Anthea had been gifted our Dahlia's in duck egg by a mutual friend of ours and hers. It was love at first sight, and you could say that the rest is history! As a small brand like ours, we are completely honoured to have such a national treasure represent our business, and so many of our lovely ladies have been inspired by true passion for our bags.
Anthea was even the guest of honour at our Bags of Christmas Joy zoom party and delighted the ladies by answering their questions and getting into the festive spirit with us. A true embodiment of girl power, we cannot wait to develop our relationship with her further in the New Year.
4. Zoom parties
Could we really do a round up of 2020 without mentioning the word Zoom? No we could not! If you haven't been on at least one awkward Zoom call this year - then where have you been hiding? Usually we would host a summer party and a Christmas party for our customers at our HQ, but of course this was not to be the case this year.
So, in true quarantine style, we took the party online, and oh my goodness are we glad we did! Going online allowed us to interact with customers from all corners of the country, invite special guests to join us and record precious moments that we wouldn't have been able to otherwise.
Of course, it will be fabulous when we can eventually all meet up face to face, but for now we will keep partying like it's ... 2020!
3. Complimentary Bag Promotion & VIP Club
We know our customers love handbags, but what could be better than a handbag that you haven't had to pay for?! We launched our first ever VIP complimentary bag promotion back in April, whereby we offered our customers the choice of either a complimentary Dahlia Mini or a Michelle tote with a spend of £525 over a three month period. Quarter 2 launched in July, featuring the much loved Jasmine as our complimentary bag, and we finished the year off with the Violet as the star of the final quarter.
We want to be as generous as we can with our customers, and ensure they feel rewarded and valued for shopping with us. We already have our first complimentary bag planned for the first quarter of the New Year - a never before seen masterpiece that is sure to be a big surprise!
Being a VIP has not only given out customers access to the complimentary bag promotion, but membership comes with a whole host of benefits, including a 10% discount code to use all year round, early bird access to sales and sample sales, invitations to our exclusive events and so much more!
If you haven't already taken part in this but it sounds up your street, then be sure to sign up to our VIP club so you get full details for the next launch here.
2. Box of Joy
Inspired by lock down and the tough times it brought, we wanted to recognise the amazing work of those on the front line. We wanted to help spread a little joy to those in need of a joyful moment.
Through our Bagsofjoy community, we launched our Heroic Key Worker initiative. Each week during the first lockdown, we asked our community to nominate someone who they believed to be making a difference during the pandemic through their hard work and efforts. Our community then voted on who they thought needed an bit of joy and we sent them a beautifully curated Sarah Haran gift box. We saw a whole host of people from nurses & doctors, supermarket superstars, carers, teachers and those who had suffered loss or hardship receive a box of joy, and it was magical to see it lift their spirits.
Although in the grand scheme of things spreading joy may seem minor, it has been important to us as it has helped spread positivity and joy through our community. Sharing heart warming moments and acts of kindness that they have witnessed or been a part of has been a very humbling experience for us all and we have now extended our campaign to encourage our community to vote every month for people they believe we can help lift their spirits.
1. Our Bags of Joy Club
And so we come to our number 1 moment of 2020, and that is our Bags of Joy club! At the start of the pandemic, we had to rethink the way we did things almost overnight, and through our want to spread joy and lift our customers spirits, the club was born. Little did we anticipate what it would turn into, but it has been simply magical to watch it grow.
Our customers entered right into the spirit of the club, posting their pictures of their 'handbags at home', sharing moments of kindness and hope, creating bonds with one another and providing support when we all needed it most.
We had dress up & dress down competitions, poems & songs about bags, handbags travelling to warmer locations (when restrictions were lifted) and even handbag meet ups with some of our ladies who lived close by each other.
We've had zoom parties, quizzes, sample sales, and who could forget the Friday morning alarm of 'hello ladies!', waking us up to see what Edits are in store for the weekend ahead.
It has without a doubt been the highlight of our year, and we can't wait to see the club grow even more in 2021. We couldn't have asked for a more supportive, encouraging, inspiring and strong minded group of women to be a part of our club, all who treat each other with kindness and respect as they help us on our journey to spread joy.
If you aren't already part of our club - we would love to have you! Simply join us here.
So there we have it - the top 10 or 2020. From the whole team at Sarah Haran, we would like to take this opportunity to offer you our eternal thanks and gratitude for your ongoing support. We love that you share our passion for bags, and that you have chosen to join us on our journey for joy.
Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy and prosperous new year - may it be filled with love, hope and joy!
Team SH x