Looking Back and Planning for the Future

  • 17 January 2018
  • 7 min read
Looking Back and Planning for the Future

Another year has come and gone. Whether we want to forget 2017 or not, it’s a time to reflect, review, and look to the future.

In 2017, Big Cartel marked 12 years in business. Twelve years of supporting independent artists, makers, dabblers, creators, weirdos, and everyone in between. Twelve years of doing our thing in our own way, and trying to help you do the same.

We asked a few shop owners to look back on last year with us, and to give us a glimpse of what they're excited about in 2018. Take a look at what they’ve learned; it might just inspire you to do a little introspection and planning of your own.

What lesson are you taking away from 2017?

Nic Annette Miller: Don't give up. There's going to be a lifetime of obstacles to conquer or work around but the most important thing is that the obstacle doesn't change how you want to spend your time.

Nathan Yoder, Yondr Studio: It's a lesson that I keep relearning over and over - beware of comfort. This year continued to stretch me even past comfort zones I had no idea existed. But then again, I think those unseen comfort zones are the most important ones to break. It's like David Foster Wallace's commencement speech "This Is Water," if you've ever seen it — we create our norms, find our happy place, and forget to question whether there may even be a better way to do things. For me, this year has been about rediscovering the water I'm swimming in. It's been scary and difficult but also the most freeing season of my life.

Melanie Abrantes: Life can get overwhelming and busy, especially owning a small business. It's important to remember to take it slow sometimes and cherish the small details of life. Such as walks with your dog, drinking coffee in the morning or taking an inspiration day instead of working on the computer!

Nasozi Kakembo, xNasozi: Plan ahead and budget! Project expenses and timing for materials needed, especially approaching the holidays. It will make the season go by much more smoothly and without burning out.

Wayne Bailey, Grave Before Shave: When you have a great idea, don't sit on it and wait for the most opportune time to execute. The year passes fast and the best time is always now!

Aaron Avila, LONGLIVE THE SWARM: Without a doubt the most important lesson of 2017 for me has been to live in the moment. I am obsessed with wanting more or looking too far ahead. I am thankful for my business partner who calls me out and pumps the breaks when needed. You can't forget to stop and smell the roses. Enjoy the process! Always.

Adam J. Kurtz, ADAMJK: Plan ahead for the slower times – this is the first year that I really properly anticipated and accomodated for the slower months and then was ready for the holidays, like really ready. I minimized my stress by having as much ready as I could without overdoing it.

Holden Mesk: Follow ur dreams and never give up.


If there's one thing we've learned, it's that a year can be difficult for a city or country, while still being incredibly positive for an individual. We're always looking for a silver lining, and this group had plenty to go around.

What's the best thing that happened to you in 2017?

Nic Miller: I've always wanted to be able to share my work internationally, but never did I think it would be in Dubai. That opportunity was an amazing life experience as it allowed me to explore a region with important history and culture to understand. And I made a ton of new friends that I'm still in touch with.

Melanie Abrantes: I wrote a book!! I honestly never would have thought that would happen and it debuted in August. A huge exciting moment for me.

Aaron Avila: Year after year, the fact that people from around the world enjoy our goods or connect with our brand will never get old. I still trip out and it's something I never fathomed when starting the brand. Also, seeing artists and entertainers that we look up to wear Longlive The Swarm has been a highlight this year!

Adam J. Kurtz: I got married, also I released a third book and sold out of 3500 weekly planners like, very fast. It's been the craziest three months of my entire life but I did it! I made it through! And I didn't half-ass anything.


We’re constantly blown away by the unique, inspiring, funny, touching products you make and the businesses you build. Seeing your work and talking to you every day makes us truly grateful to do what we do. We’re excited for the year ahead, and excited to make Big Cartel even better for you. But of course we want to know what our community of shop owners has planned as well.

What are you most excited to create in 2018?

Nathan Yoder: I've been working my way towards writing and illustrating a children's book with my wife for the past couple years. I feel like we're finally getting close to something we could pitch to an agent or publisher. I'm really looking forward to making all of that a reality!

Nic Miller: I took on a lot of commissions and freelance work in 2017 so I'm excited to start another personal project; a continuation of my last with the starlings.

Nasozi Kakembo: To further refine my business strategy, celebrating seven years since I started my business!

Wayne Bailey: Working on new products outside of our normal line.

Aaron Avila: Looking forward to pushing our own boundaries and enjoying ourselves while doing it. Hopefully collaborating more with artists we love!


The past year has been challenging. Now more than ever, we need people with that independent, gutsy spirit. We need a diverse community of folks sharing their perspectives and lifting each other up. We need each other.

We’ve watched you collaborate, promote the work of other creators, and speak up for what you believe in. It's been inspiring to watch, and we’re holding on to this feeling of empowerment and optimism as we make our way through 2018.

Get to know more of the Big Cartel community of artists, makers, and shop owners.

17 January 2018

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