Our First Year...
as an employee-owned Benefit Corporation was a doozy: we survived one of the most difficult economic environments in decades for U.S. manufacturers and apparel brands.
One of our four central goals as a benefit corporation is to support, develop, and create careers (not "just" jobs) for our employees. They are, individually and collectively, the purpose for our being.
And their commitment and dedication to this challenging year was extraordinary. Sales were depressed for every apparel brand, outdoor recreation brands struggled with excess inventory, supply chain twists and constraints blocked many of our product plans, and continuous challenges popping up it seemed nearly every day. It was tough and it was grueling, and it was worth it. We did not layoff employees. Most other brands were forced to do this, by the same circumstances.
We are filled with gratitude for our team members that stayed together working hard to hold up our U.S. apparel manufacturing. We're thankful for our vendor partners. We're thankful for our many Ambassadors. We're thankful for the 300+ customers that became Kitsbow Angels by investing in our Community Round of Funding.
And we're grateful for each of you, because:
You purchased 16,000+ garments, all made here Old Fort, NC (except for our socks, hats, and gloves). Proof that sewing premium apparel in the U.S. is possible!
You embraced 20 new styles of apparel, each one designed here in Old Fort, NC -- a capacity not widely held in the U.S. apparel industry (and bragging on our Product Team for just a moment, that's nearly a new style every other week of this year).
And you helped us partner with a dozen non-profit organizations that are doing the great things: building MTB trails, conserving land, providing advocacy for walking and riding, introducing MTB to everyone regardless of gender and ability, and more. We're proud of our partners, and we're delighted they're proud to wear Kitsbow.
Above all, we want to recognize the expressions of support from our new Kitsbow Angels, from our Community, and from our customers like you for our big transition 12 months ago from previous ownership.
Our new structure was just what we needed and inherently includes each and all of you as we go forward.
All in all, it was a year of Firsts: First year under new ownership, first year as a Benefit Corporation, the first hot laps on the new Old Fort Gateway Trail system, for which we worked so hard to bring to life, and so many other firsts, such as the first Icon shirt inspired by Dolly Parton.
With a first year like that, just imagine how much potential 2023 has to offer all of us!
What's Up for 2023?
We need to keep most of it under wraps until partnerships and plans can be finalized. But here's a few things we can unveil for you today:
- More new styles coming, including a few for indoor sports. New, never-before Kitsbow products will start launching next week! Popular older styles are coming back, now that we've un-stuck some of our supply chain.
- A referral program is coming that gives you substantial rewards when you refer a friend to Kitsbow. Real money, like $50 or even $100. For you to share with people who admire what you're wearing.
- We are launching an exciting new way to buy Kitsbow, especially vintage Kitsbow that is no longer in production. We call it Experienced Kitsbow.
We're excited about all the new styles, colors, and events coming your way in 2023. And we're deeply grateful for your loyalty and support throughout last year. Thank you.
David Billstrom, for the Team at Kitsbow