Now and then, I’ve shared some of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of my eco-friendly clothing line, Mountains of the Moon, here on the blog. It has been a huge part of my life for a very long time. Before I started this blog and the art shop, it was, for many years, my full time job. It allowed me to travel all over and have some really incredible experiences while providing a good living. It began as a labor of love right out of college, and grew into something substantial that taught me invaluable lessons about entrepreneurship, and life too. I’ve mentioned here, in a couple of posts on small business, how things began to change a few years back – and how, as a result, it has slowly become less and less of a focus for me career-wise.
Last week, I made the decision to close the business. It was not a decision that came easily, but it was time to let it go. Today, I emailed a letter to Mountains of the Moon’s customers and email list – over 15,000 wonderful, loyal people for whom I’m very grateful – explaining our decision. I decided to post that letter here as well. And for those of you who are fans of style-conscious earth friendly apparel, we’re having a huge 75% off sale today and tomorrow as well. (Woohoo!) There are details about this sale and a coupon code at the end of the letter. Thank you for letting me share.
Mountains of the Moon began 15 years ago in a tiny Oregon apartment, with some fabric scraps and a hand-me-down sewing machine set up on a cardboard box. I was right out of college and didn’t even own a computer. At the time, there was no such thing as “eco-fashion.” There were a few companies who produced garments made from hemp and organic cotton, but I wanted to take things further. I had a vision of designing fashion-forward collections that were earth conscious without sacrificing style. I decided to call the line Mountains of the Moon (after my favorite Grateful Dead song), and began sewing one-of-a-kind designs and selling them at music festivals throughout the country. To my surprise, people liked them, and they sold out – again and again. I continued to sew, set up a website, and began to make steady sales online in addition to vending at festivals and events. My dream business was on the path to becoming a reality.
Things continued to grow. I hired a team. We added a t-shirt line to the mix, as well as accessories and other goods along the way. In 2005, the business had gotten to a place where I was no longer able to keep up with the sewing on my own. I continued to design and sew the prototypes and samples, but began working with local manufacturers to produce full collections in larger quantities. We set up a wholesale program and began to sell to stores. In less than two years, over 100 boutiques worldwide carried our collections, we were showing at Chicago and Portland Fashion weeks, and my designs were exhibited on two separate occasions at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. I spoke on Mountains of the Moon’s behalf on fashion panels and at green events, produced eco-fashion events in Chicago, and worked on the side as an eco-minded fashion stylist for several bands in the music industry. I was, and still am, incredibly grateful for this success. It was a magical time, getting to do what I loved and meeting so many amazing people (you!) along the way.
Sometimes paths take unexpected turns, and over the past few years, things began to change. Almost 90% of the boutiques who carried our clothing have closed, and website sales dramatically decreased as well. We sent another newsletter a little over a year ago where we were very candid about how the economy and (sadly) a decline in consumer demand for eco-friendly products had affected Mountains of the Moon over recent years. We hoped that maybe things would change, and we put a great deal of effort into attempts to make it work again, but in truth, keeping Mountains of the Moon afloat has been challenging for a while now. The expenses of keeping the website/ecommerce system and other business necessities active are now greater than the sales we make. And although my energies have admittedly shifted to focus more on other ventures (more on that in a minute), we always said that as long as we were breaking even, we would keep Mountains of the Moon open. Throughout 2014, we have failed to break even.
My wonderful long time employee Kari and I, after many months of discussion, have made the decision to close Mountains of the Moon, once our remaining inventory has been sold. Although we would love to continue to keep it running despite the losses, it’s just not financially possible anymore. That said, we do plan to keep the spirit of Mountains of the Moon alive. We will be shutting down the shopping portion of the website once our inventory is gone, and we will no longer produce clothing or vend at events, nor will stores carry our clothing. But we will keep the name, and the website will remain active on some level – even if just to share our story. Our minds and hearts will also always stay open to the possibility of creating product for Mountains of the Moon again someday in the future.
The cliche of doors opening where other ones close has proven quite true for me. Some of you have become readers of my other project, the Bubby and Bean Blog, over the the past 3+ years. And some of you have become customers over at my greeting card and art company, Bubby and Bean Art. I started the blog as a companion to Mountains of the Moon, as a way to talk about small business, fashion, green living, design, DIY projects, and other things that inspired me.
It is now, in addition to the art shop, a full time business of its own. Just as I am grateful for the success and joy that came with Mountains of the Moon, I am grateful for success and joy that accompanies the Bubby and Bean businesses. I hope that you will stay in touch, and join me over there. I will also continue to stay active on our Instagram, Twitter and on our Bubby & Bean Facebook page.
Before I go, I want to mention one more change – the one that has brought about the greatest gratitude and joy of my life. On December 28th, 2013, my daughter, Essley Morgan, was born. And as sad as I am to have to let go of Mountains of the Moon (my other baby!), I realize that perhaps everything truly does happen for a reason. Whereas Mountains of the Moon demanded constant travel, Bubby and Bean allows me to work from a home office/studio while I care for my daughter.
Although it depends on how quickly inventory goes, this will likely be the final sale newsletter that you will receive from Mountains of the Moon. So we’ve decided to make it a big one. Today and tomorrow only, take 75% off (yep, 75% off) your order at www.mountainsofthemoon.com, with coupon code THANKYOU. (*See below for details.)
And speaking of thank you, I want to end this by saying just that. I could go on and on about how much I appreciate the support that you, our customers, have given Mountains of the Moon over the years. Some of you have even been with us since the very beginning. All of you – new customers and long-time friends alike – will always hold a special place in our hearts. So thank you. A million times, thank you.
With Love and Eternal Gratitude,
Melissa Baswell Williams
UPDATE: We are selling out of inventory faster than we can keep up in the system. If you place an order, PLEASE check your email as we’ll be emailing those with orders we can’t fill throughout the day. Sorry for any inconvenience!