2020. Well, we didn’t see that one coming. It’s fair to say that we’re ending this year in a very different place from where we started, which I imagine is something that we share with the entire world.
For fellow creatives, this was a year of pausing and pivoting and Moyo was no exception to this. We collaborated, closed our membership, launched a new site as well as hanging on to the wild ride that was 2020. There have been some highs and milestones proudly achieved, as well as deep how-do-we-get-out-of-this lows and the many lessons in between. Whilst Mark and I are not the biggest sharers online, we do wear our heart on our sleeves and so in this post we do share some of the personal experiences that shaped this year for us, too.
We actually completely missed out on our 2019 end of year review, but in a nutshell we had grown our membership, started collaborating with other creatives and had created a vision for Moyo which we were starting to realise. On a personal note, we had moved back to the UK to find a base for our photography studio, got married (after 13 years of being together) and were ready to scale Moyo and to take on 2020.
This year we celebrated our 3rd birthday! It’s almost hard to believe that Moyo is just 3 years old as in some ways, it feels as if it’s been part of our lives forever. This year, despite some of its difficulties, we did have some great moments and celebrated some business milestones, too.
18 Product launches
This year we launched 18 new products, ranging from photo collections, mockups and the more complex (but fast becoming favourites to make) scene creators. With some of the products, we really stretched ourselves both technically and creatively and only now looking back, it’s no wonder that we reflect upon this year as being intense.
This immersion in product creation has taught us a lot in terms of what type of products best serve our audience, as well as revealing that to create these products requires a generous investment of time. This was one of the driving factors behind closing our membership, so that we could slow down the pace of our product creation in order to create innovative, versatile products that reach new heights for standards and quality. (More on that later.)
We’d been wanting to redesign our website for so long, but as always these things tend to take a back seat when you prioritise the hundreds of other things that seem to crop up. When we made the shift from a membership site to an online shop, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give Moyo a new look and a new lease of life to mark its new chapter.
We made the switch to Flothemes, which was a total game changer for us, making the whole redesign process so much easier than we could have hoped for. The intuitive builder and design features are a dream to work with! We couldn’t have been happier with the whole process and can’t wait to continue to evolve our website in 2021.
This year, we were incredibly fortunate to have co-created with some wonderfully talented photographers who spanned across the globe. We loved this opportunity to work collaboratively alongside other creatives and we couldn’t have been more proud of the amazing ladies who contributed to Moyo this year.
Despite all of the obstacles that the pandemic threw at all these ladies, they all rose proudly to the challenge and created the most beautiful work for Moyo’s audience. We’ll forever be indebted to these amazing women, who showed adaptability and strength organising shoots during these complicated times.
One of our proudest achievements in 2020 was growing our audience and community organically, thanks largely to both Instagram and Pinterest. Through consistent, intentional and honest posting on IG, at the end of the year we’re currently celebrating 17K followers and we’re thankful for each and every one. Whilst we personally don’t get too hung up on numbers, we do celebrate the engaged and amazingly supportive creative community that we find ourselves part of.
For the first time this year, we also committed ourselves to Pinterest marketing, implementing strategy and software such as Tailwind. Previously we simply used Pinterest to save our favourite visual inspiration, but we shifted our use of the platform to be a place where we could share content and to celebrate the work of our customers with the launch of our own group board. The result is now that Pinterest is one of our leading sources of traffic and we can’t wait to expand and experiment on this in 2021.
Whilst this part of a yearly review is typically titled ‘fails’, I prefer to kindly call them ‘lessons’ instead. They say that the third year can often be the make or break of a business and this was no ordinary third year.
Earlier in the year, we closed our membership programme and we learned very quickly that shifting your business from a membership model is not easy. In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s complicated and downright messy and it’s a process that we’re still navigating.
Naturally, this transitional phase has encountered serious growing pains, our website had to change and function differently and these changes were sometimes met with frustration and criticism. We accept that this may be a long process and we’d like to thank the kind patience of our members who have been incredibly understanding and supportive of the evolution of Moyo.
Neglecting the camera
Whilst we immersed ourselves in product creation this year, because of personal events that had happened at the beginning (which I share more of below) I lost all inclination to take photos. Photography used to be my happy place, whether for product creation or simply to document and share our lives, something I did for pure joy. This year I’m sad to admit that my well was completely empty and the consequence of this was that I didn’t even pick up the camera for 8 months. With a new year and new chapter ahead, I’m hoping to fall in love with taking photographs to reignite that spark again.
Behind the scenes
We started this year with lofty goals and big dreams, from both a personal and business perspective. We therefore started 2020 with huge and exciting plans to grow our membership, build our stock photo library and collaborate with as many talented photographers we could.
The year began on track, with us setting the wheels in motion to do just that. Then, without warning our world completely fell apart when we’d sadly lost our first pregnancy.
This is a deeply personal experience that until now I haven’t really shared because we tend to be incredibly private people. That being said, like many business owners our personal and business lives are so entwined that in some ways it couldn’t not be mentioned as part of our story this year as it shaped some of the biggest decisions we made.
To this day, Moyo is still very much just a two man band with Mark and I. There’s no big team behind the scenes and so when our world started to dismantle, as our hopes and dreams for the year, for our lives, fell away, juggling the business under a cloud of grief was painfully difficult at times. 24/7 customer service had to be maintained, products still had to be launched and during that time I felt the heavy weight of the mounting pressure of the membership.
When wading through the murky waters of grief, I found that I completely lost all sense of creativity. That momentum, that spark that we had from the beginning of the year completely extinguished and in its place, an emptiness and complete lack of direction.
Then, as if on cue, Covid came along and in the UK we found ourselves in lockdown for a few months. Let’s just say that grieving a loss, plus social isolation made for dark days. In some ways, the business did give us some focus during that time, something to take our minds off things. In fact, we perhaps took that to an extreme. As I’m sure was the case for many of us, working from home, the business started to become all consuming. We’d be working all hours, 7 days a week, constantly plugged in with little or no time away from the screen.
Stopping the membership
During this time, something just didn’t feel right. The both of us knew that something was off kilter and that the business was heading in a direction that we didn’t feel comfortable with.
Quickly, but with a heavy heart, we decided to not accept any new members for the year and close our membership programme. Once we’d made the decision, announced it to all our members, we’d go back and forth agonising whether or not it was the right thing to do. On the surface, it might have seemed a crazy thing to do as we’d been so fortunate to have built up a community of 700 amazing members, who we were so thankful for and that inspired us every single day.
However, once we had accepted and embraced the decision we had made we felt instantly lighter. We knew that to truly serve our audience properly, we needed some space and to step back so that we could create and serve from a place of true alignment.
Goals for 2021
Revisit old products
One of our big plans for next year is to revisit, revamp and refine some of our older products. This year we’d launched our scene creators with pre-made scenes for the first time and we’d been overwhelmed with just how popular they’ve been, recognising their time-saving qualities as well as packing even more value into each product.
Scene creators are amazingly versatile tools with infinite possibilities, which we’ve realised can sometimes prove daunting, especially to those who may not be too familiar with Photoshop. Over the past 3 years, our technical skill has grown as well as having a better understanding of what options, features and variations would be useful. With that in mind we can’t wait to breathe new life into our older products, which (we hope!) will make them timeless staples in a designer’s toolkit.
Create more resources
This year, we dusted off the cobwebs and reignited our blog finally, creating some in depth blog post series which we loved both writing and sharing. One of our big visions is for Moyo to be more than just a shop to buy creative assets, but a place to learn, to celebrate the wins of our community and that also inspires to create.
Next year, we hope to carve out dedicated time to build out our resources even more, with intentions to create more tutorials (including videos!) so that our audience can get the very most out of their tools, plus inspirational interviews with designers as well as sharing our own, honest insights into running a creative business. Rather excitingly, we’ve just teamed up with the lovely copywriter Amy Kuehl, who will help us to bring our content ideas to life. We can’t wait!
Taking things slow
When we make the final transition and say farewell to our final beloved yearly members in 2021, we’ll be taking a different, slower approach to product creation. In 3 years we’ve released a grand total of 64 digital products, and so we’re looking forward to carving out the space to revisit our older products, as well as being more intentional and patient with the new ones we create. This will be a whole new approach for us, but one which I’m looking forward to embracing with open arms.
Whilst in many ways, 2020 will always be remembered for its obstacles and challenges, we are also thankful for the opportunity it gave for us to shift gears and to change direction. If things hadn’t turned out how they did, or if we weren’t forced to pause and reflect as we had done, perhaps we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to truly tune in and listen to our inner voices.
Of course, it’s nerve wracking to pivot and make such big changes in our business, but I’ve always been a big believer in trusting your gut and leaning into your intuition. At the end of the day, you serve others best when you’re coming from a place of alignment and fulfilment and if you do what feels right for you, things will always work out.
On a joyful note, we are so thankful to announce that we are now expecting a little one due to arrive next year. It goes without saying how incredibly grateful we are for this blessing, and with that this new phase of parenthood is perfectly timed with our intentions to take 2021 slower.
2021 will mark our fourth year in business, and to be honest we’re wide open as to where this ship will sail. Not only will we not have a membership for the first time, but we’re also entering a new phase of becoming parents, too.
For a while it’ll be just Mark holding the fort, so learning to let go and to take a back seat with the business will be one of my first challenges. However, I would say that 2020 has taught us something, it’s to surrender and to accept that there are some things that we simply cannot control. I’m at peace with that and look forward to embracing the unknown journey ahead.
Thank you so much for following along and your continued support of Moyo this year, here’s to a new year and all of the new adventures and opportunities that await!
With love & light,
Molly & Mark