2018 was quite a year for the two of us. To be completely honest, it was a mixed bag. Whispering Willow had an outstanding year. We launched our Seasonal Scent program in which we offer unique scents inspired by the season. We took steps forward as a company that we didn't expect and that make us incredibly grateful. In spite of being forced to cancel several shows, we hit a new sales record for our little soap company.
Behind the scenes, we began working on a major brand update which included revisiting our message and voice, reformulating our bar soap line, and giving our visual branding a makeover. Ten months in the making, this update launched on January 15th.
With all of the success we experienced with Whispering Willow we had some significant challenges personally. We said goodbye to two of our furry companions, Cassie and Holly. Both were quite old, 15 and 16 respectively and had failing health. A third member of our pack, Sparky, developed diabetes and a few months later formed cataracts that took his vision. Between the three, we estimate we made a 100 trips to the vet in 2018 for various infusions and treatments. Our pack is smaller now (just Sparky and Wilma) but still full of love.
In late Summer, we received the news that a family member had tragically taken their life, leaving behind a spouse and child. As we attended services, celebrated their life, and mourned with the family we were reminded that so many suffer in silence.
With all of the above happening in just a few months, the stress was understandably significant. Unfortunately, stress can have a serious effect on someone with MS and in the early Fall, Julia experienced an MS relapse. A relapse can take many forms. This particular relapse left Julia very unsteady, in a lot of pain, very tired, and out of commission for several weeks.
Let's be clear: this is no pity party. In so many ways, we are living the dream. We have a successful small business, loving families, and a wonderful marriage. We have simply gone through a tough stretch. And it is in these times that we tend to learn and grow. The past year has been no exception.
We have learned so much about gratitude and intention. We have also learned to pause, be mindful, and prioritize our own health and well-being. These experiences and lessons have not only shaped us personally but have also become an integral part of Whispering Willow.
As we worked on our brand update, we decided to instill our little soap company with the principles of gratitude, intention, and self-care. We took time, together, and wrote a manifesto that speaks to what has become so important to us and what we hope to help provide to our customers. The last few lines summarize it best: