This post was originally shared in our email newsletter on December 17, 2023.
We started 2023 off in a financially precarious position. We made bold decisions rooted in our purpose and values. After a year of transition and hard work, it feels wonderful to consider the immense amount of progress we made to build a sustainable foundation for years to come.
Below is a Keap 2023 retrospective: the good, the bad, and the fragrant.
Among the many changes of this year, none was larger than our counter-intuitive decision to simplify our offering (and subsequently make Lavender + Petals available year-round). Without going into the nitty gritty of our operational metrics, I can tell you that this move has proven to be a lifesaver for us.
Not only that, it allowed us to take major steps forward in our product vision in ways that would have previously been impossible.
We launched a major upgrade to our glass candleholder. We were able to dedicate time to a big matchbox upgrade (coming early 2024). After struggling once more with summer melting issues caused by our coconut wax’s low melt point, we were able to put those issues definitively behind us with an improvement to our formula. Lastly, for the first time in 3 years, we started work on a new scent! We aim to launch it in 2024.
There were many other big changes early in the year. The most significant was my co-founder Stephen’s transition out of day-to-day responsibilities after eight years of dedication to Keap. It was a bittersweet moment that allowed us an opportunity to celebrate Stephen and the magic he brought to this project—and my philosophical take is that it is all part of a cycle of renewal and regeneration. I am very thankful to still be able to count Stephen as a close friend and confidant, which I don’t take for granted given how many co-founder “breakup” horror stories I have heard.
We kicked off the year with a celebration of the two-year anniversary of our move off social media. This opened up a number of interesting conversations (thank you to all of you who shared your own thoughts and experiences on the topic!) and led to BtheChange publishing this opinion piece. Since then we’ve been hearing from more and more business owners considering how to get off social media.
Upon returning from our summer sabbatical, we launched our annual Keaper survey. A few hundred Keapers shared their insightful opinions on a range of topics including our products, social media and more (first part of our debrief here).
In November, over a hundred Keapers wrote beautiful appreciations for people in their lives, in the form of a haiku. It was one of my all-time favorite initiatives, and we’ll be brainstorming how we can make it even better next time.
We had other big transitions on the team, as we celebrated the birth of one baby girl and the announcement of one more to come in a few months! To adapt to these changes, several Keapees (“Keap employees”) learned and developed new skills. Other team highlights included a new surfboard and a string of trivia victories. We also managed to belatedly celebrate our Kingston move with a ribbon cutting ceremony, with giant scissors and fresh watermelon juice. We enjoyed wonderful site visits to Saipua and the Omega Institute, and we launched a new tool to help each of us manage our time (“Leader Standard Work”, in lean parlance).
We are so grateful for the coverage of Keap provided by some of you on this newsletter. Dwell opened their guide to the best candles with an ode to Wood Cabin, which they also included in this November guide. Kelly Conaboy was back at it again on Bon Appetit with some devastating psychoanalysis based on your candle tastes—but Wood Cabin fans will be relieved to read what’s in stock for them.
Coolstuff.nyc and Kottke.org included us in some notable roundups, and just this week Inc quoted us in a great piece on What It Actually Takes to Make Your Products More Sustainable.
The above covers just the tip of the iceberg. We didn’t cover our cute tealight survey feedback, the launch of our new 6-pack format, our first online Studio Seconds sale, all the in person events we got up to (NYC tour just completed yesterday!), or the biggest equipment outage of our history in September (sorry if your order was affected by that) and many other things.
One highlight and constant through it all has been the amazing support we received from our customers and readers. Whether it’s sharing love letters, giving detailed feedback in our surveys, suggesting partnerships, offering introductions, we have been supported in so many ways by our community this year.
It really is humbling and thrilling to be on the receiving side of that love, and we hope we can continue to improve and return that love and trust back to you.
Thank you for an incredible 2023!
— Harry from Keap, Steward-Owner
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