A Broken Cup

Hey y’all.

It’s been a minute. It’s been too many minutes. Some of you may have seen my live; some of you may have read your email and wanted to know more.  What a whirlwind the past five months have been. While I don’t have to explain myself and I say that because I know undoubtedly many of you will tell me that, I am because I have always promised transparency with Dixie Grace. Forgive me if this is long, wordy, and thorough - I write this for not only our customers, but other Business Owners who may feel like they’re alone out there as we all face insane challenges and navigating covid, and now this strange inflation/supply/demand coupled with high interest rates. 

In October of 2021, I was very close to shutting off our websites because we were so overwhelmed with business. We had a team of 5 people plus another 12 coming to work on weekends. We were closing our small storefront just to receive materials and pack Orders. We were incredibly blessed but extremely overwhelmed. We simply didn’t have any more room for more staff, more materials, to add more production space. In late December 2021, we committed to a new large building that was a “build to suit” for our needs since nowhere in our area had a space that worked for us. The building was due to be ready in August/September of 2022 which would take us straight into peak season and allow us to provide a bigger peak due to larger production space. That was not the case due to construction delays and we couldn’t grow in peak season of 2022 due to reaching production capacity again. We were able to move into our building in January of 2023 which is a much slower season for us. Operating Expenses were high but we thought we could make it work. 

As 2023 progressed, I began to watch our cash flow decrease, interest rates rise, and inflation continue. I saw it coming head on at us and while we had a great peak season in 2023, it wasn’t enough to overcome the debt we took on from the shuffle of construction plus the tightening of the market. In January of 2024, we were looking at going back to my basement that we started Dixie Grace in. It had all just become overwhelming and we knew we could operate from there as that’s where we started. Just when we thought that was our plan, we were presented with multiple opportunities that would allow us to expand our hand-crafted product lines. To say we were ecstatic was an understatement. We would get to keep what we had worked so hard for but needed a business loan to get us setup for taking on this new business and stabilizing our cash flow. We immediately went to our Commercial Banker and CPA who agreed that’s what was needed and saw all of the opportunities staring at us also. Confirmation from professionals is always a good thing to hear and told me I wasn’t seeing what I wanted to see on a whim. Our CPA sent everything to our Bank at the end of January when we wrapped up 2023. The bank did their thing and told us we should apply for a state backed loan that Illinois has for these exact things and would take the sting out of the current high market interest rates. Sweet! Let’s do it! It takes 30 days for their approval process and Dixie Grace meets all the parameters and qualifications for this loan program. Awesome. We will be fine for 30 days. Go…. 

Before I go further, I want to say I am sorry and I personally am falling on the sword here. At the end of the day, I answer for Dixie Grace and I alone. Not my staff. Not my customers. Not the bank. Not the state. Just me. Dixie Grace was good at 30 days into this process but there was no word back from the state other than they are working on it. 60 days in, we began to be late on some payments we needed to go out to various vendors which began to damage my business and personal credit along with any other chance for a different kind of loan. Now I was dependent on the state for this loan unless I wanted to use our personal home as collateral. We had swept through most of our savings at 90 days in just trying to sustain day to day operations. My banker and myself began to call State Representatives and Senators. We had strapped ourselves across the board. Money for Materials ran out. Money for Shipping ran out. Orders that we don’t get paid for until they actually ship started piling up. It was a fast chain reaction of nothing other than hell and feeling completely helpless despite everything we had to tried navigate, change, move around - the cash just ran out and with it my sanity and blood pressure. Yes, this experience saw me put on BP meds. When I am telling you WE took this home with us every single night and woke up with it every single morning, I mean we all did. I have heard this is part of scaling a business without investors so yay if that part is over. Lord help me. 

What I can do now, praise the Lord, is say that this loan is completed and funded almost 120 days after this entire process started. We have ordered numerous materials we were in short supply or had run out of that are coming in every day. We are producing orders every day, working overtime to get them done and shipped, and back to our normal Dixie Grace Shipping times that all of our customers have always appreciated from us. We will continue releasing new products over the course of this year along with a few new scents plus our Fall and Christmas Collections. All of the opportunities we had been presented with are now in motion, along with more that have come along, and we are full speed ahead!! We will be making some changes to our storefront as we expand our product lines. Look for more information on this coming soon once we get all of our current open orders out of our doors. 

What I have said above does NOT pertain to the Refill Bags. Those were paid for in full prior to their production and is truly just a long production process (14+ ink drying days alone) that we did not know about as this was a new product for us and our first round of production. We have thousands coming in and don’t expect these delays again. We look forward to shipping them very soon and out on our shelves! Preorders and Boxes will go out as soon as they are delivered to us and we produce them which shouldn’t take very long. Tracking says the bags deliver this week!! 

Thank you for your patience, your understanding, and your grace in this situation. I felt like explaining the situation would lend more understanding. I apologize for the delay in communication but with no word from the state until Tuesday 5/28 and closing until this morning, we didn’t have any information to give out and didn’t want to communicate the wrong information which would only be more damaging in the long run. It’s hard when you don’t have answers to give and explanations don’t make sense. I won’t say I made a mistake going this route but I will say I learned a very BIG lesson from it all and it won’t happen again in our future.