As we enter 2023 and start looking ahead, Ashlee shares some reflections and behind-the-scenes insights from a hectic but rewarding year for The Suffolk Nest
Happy New Year! I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year break, surrounded by loved ones. Our decorations have now been packed away for another year and I’m ready to make the most of 2023. While I love our home when it’s filled with festive magic and twinkling lights, I always get a fresh burst of energy when we say goodbye to the season and start reclaiming our space by stripping it back to basics.
While I don’t tend to make New Year’s resolutions, I appreciate the mental reset that entering a new year can bring. January is the perfect time to pause, take stock, and reflect on all the successes and challenges of the past year. It’s also a month that I like to use to get organised and lay out our plans for the year ahead.
A look back at 2022
It’s fair to say that 2022 was a bit of a rollercoaster. The Suffolk Nest celebrated its second anniversary but reaching this milestone came with several unexpected challenges, stress, worries, and sacrifices. But despite the tough moments we experienced, it was an incredibly rewarding year overall.
No matter what obstacles were thrown in our way, your messages and emails gave me the strength I needed to push through. I’m so grateful that we receive thousands of messages each month from people who love the community we’ve created at The Suffolk Nest. Inspiring others and encouraging them to fall in love with flowers is the reason I established the business, and it remains my purpose today.
You’ve told me that The Suffolk Nest has had a transformative effect on your lives, whether you’ve been empowered by our weekly Flowers for the Weekend live video tutorials, got creative by building your first Christmas wreath, or found a new source of joy in flowers. I’m incredibly proud of the positive impact we’ve had on so many of you.
A family business
Being an entrepreneur and founder is challenging every day. Our business can move at break-neck speed sometimes and everything can change in the blink of an eye. Having a young family has its own difficulties; our two little girls, aged two and a half and four, are developing and having new experiences all the time. I often find myself torn between wanting to spend my every waking hour with them, while also loving my business and wanting to give it my all. It’s a daily juggling act.
As I write, it’s currently 4.30am and we’re enroute to the airport for our first business trip of 2023. Christmas is still dominating my thoughts but this time, it’s our new lines for Christmas 2023, which we’re hoping to confirm during this trip. It’s almost unbelievable that this is my job now – it really doesn’t feel like work, and I get to do it all with Chris by my side!
I’m often asked how Chris and I find working together and I can genuinely say that it’s one of my favourite things about our business. We’re completely immersed in each other’s worlds; I understand his anxieties, dreams, and ambitions, and he understands mine. If Chris were to ever wake me up at 3am, excited to talk about something business-related, I’d be more than happy to sit up in bed and have the chat right there and then! I know some people might think that’s a bit odd, but I care so deeply about The Suffolk Nest and knowing that my husband feels the same way is very special. We share the same concerns and make the same sacrifices but, most importantly, we share the same vision.
If you’ve ever sent us an email or made an enquiry through our website, you’ll have likely received a reply from Chris. And you might have noticed that the reply arrived in the evening or over the weekend. Chris is incredibly passionate about managing all our customer service messages and responding personally, so he makes time to prioritise this when the girls are asleep, and we can finally sit down and open our laptops after a day on the go.
Work can be all consuming, especially as my main hobby has now become my full-time job, but this does mean that my health and wellbeing are often neglected. It’s been on my mind a lot recently. I did join a gym, and despite only managing to work out there once in the six months I’ve been a member, I can confirm that it serves great coffee, and the girls love the soft play area! In 2023, I want to find more balance and dedicate time and energy to this part of my life. I won’t be able to give my all to this business or my family if I end up burnt out and permanently exhausted. This year, I’m hoping to bring more nourishment, more water, more fresh air, and more time in nature into my daily life.
Our hopes for 2023
I’m so excited for what’s to come in 2023. January is going to be a very busy month with a few more business trips and the photo shoot for our Spring collection booked in. I can’t wait for you to see it: think budding branches, striking magnolias, delicate blossoms, an abundance of tulips and more! The new collection of faux stems and arrangements will also be offered alongside some gorgeous new additions to our vase collection, all carefully chosen to pair beautifully with our flowers. We’ll also be launching a new Spring wreath kit; I started working on it in December and am now in the process of making the final few tweaks.
On the logistics side of The Suffolk Nest, we’ll be moving warehouse. We were supposed to be moving at the end of last year but, unfortunately, this fell through at the last-minute. Happily, we’ve now managed to secure a new premises so look out for more information coming soon! Our accountant also let us know that he would no longer be able to work with us and so we’ve been busy hiring and onboarding a new team. This type of business admin might not be pretty, but it’s essential if we want to ensure The Suffolk Nest is here for years to come.
This month, Flowers for the Weekend will also be back! I’ll be appearing live on my Instagram channel every Friday night from 8pm to show you how to create a different style of bouquet each week. We’ll be starting 2023 with a classic, a traditional spiral hand-tied bouquet, and I’ll be sharing a weekly shopping list ahead of each tutorial session.
I’m also counting down to the launch of my book, House of Flowers by Ashlee Jane, on 16th March. That’s only 12 weeks away – and there’s a lot of work still to be done before the big day arrives. The next few months will also include the launch of collections for Valentine’s Day, Spring, Easter, and Mother’s Day. So, it doesn’t look like our workload will be getting lighter any time soon! Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank you to everyone who has supported The Suffolk Nest in 2022, purchased a faux stem or arrangement, tried making their own wreath, or tuned in to Flowers for the Weekend. You inspire and encourage me every day and I can’t wait to see what 2023 will bring for us all.