It’s hard to encompass this past year into one blog post, but I’m sure going to try. While they’re a ton of work to write & compile, these end-of-year recaps have long been one of my favorite things to do. Because I truly believe that in order to deepen our appreciation of the present and better envision the future, we first need to reflect back.
Plus, it’s always so much fun to see what’s changed….and what hasn’t…what was accomplished…and what wasn’t…from the previous year. With that, you can also reference 2021’s recap here.
Before I get into the business + CU brand stuff, I feel like I have to first mention how much travel this year entailed. Which makes me almost emotional to think about. That was one of the main drivers for me in starting a business and while I can often feel chained to my desk throughout the week, it stirs up a lot of gratitude to see that I did, in fact, also spend a lot of time away from it. I’m proud of that—and I can also assure you, it wouldn’t have happened (or at least not gone smoothly) without the rock-solid team members that are a part of CU.
01 – A cross-country road trip with my little sister – which was truly the adventure of a lifetime. Despite the stress of finishing & launching our former product, The Tasting Room, from the road, I’m so glad I said yes to going. It left me with memories and shared experiences with her that I’ll never, ever forget.
The stops we made: Asheville (NC), Nashville (TN), Hot Springs (AR), Oklahoma City (OK), Wildorado (TX), Santa Fe (NM), Grand Canyon National Park, Los Angeles (CA)
02 – NYC with The Blaire House for The JW Method – On this trip, I met so many awesome people in the online space, some of which became CU clients soon after, and even more importantly, close friends. I also got to meet our Senior Team Writer, Kari, IRL for the first time.
03 – Charlotte, NC – I headed here with my family 2x – the first to celebrate my grandmother’s 94th birthday, and the second to celebrate her life after she sadly passed. That woman was a true matriarch and left an incredibly legacy. I admire(d) her so much.
04 – Riviera Maya, Mexico – My husband Connor and I planned this true vacation to celebrate our 5th anniversary and take a pause in all the go, go, go of both being business owners. We really treated ourselves by staying at an amazing all-inclusive resort, going on excursions, and honestly unplugging from work. It was the R&R and quality time we both needed mid-year. We recapped it on the Wine Stains Podcast here.
05 – NYC (again) with The Blaire House (again) – I went to hang with Brooke and her daughter, as well as connect with CU clients & friends Madison of By Madison & Co., Gina of Gene Designs (both of Twin Flame Catalogue), Paige Hulse of The Creative Law Shop, Amandina of Media à la Carte, and Francesca of The Fleurish House — as well as getting to meet up with Kari again! This trip was completely spontaneous, entirely worthwhile, and a straight up blast.
06 – Dallas, TX – This was a combo of a work trip for Connor and while there, a celebration of my birthday. We were only there a few days, but I really loved what we saw of this city and you better believe, I made myself right at home at LaLaLand, sipping iced lattes and snagging WiFi to get work done.
07 – California Road Trip – From LA to visit my college best friend, to a road trip up the central coast & along the PCH, this was an iconic trip to celebrate a milestone birthday for Connor. (Our birthdays are only 3 days apart!) It was a bucket list kind of trip for us both and a total dream. We recapped it on the Wine Stains Podcast here.
We visited: San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Carmel-by-the-Sea + Carmel Village, and Monterey.
08 – Charlottesville, VA + Philadelphia, PA – Let the spontaneity continue…I mean, have you met my husband? He booked this weekend trip last minute to visit the town of my college alma mater, which just so happens to be located in Virginia’s wine country. We went hiking, wine tasting, caught a show, dined out, and enjoyed the perfect fall breather. As if that wasn’t enough, he couldn’t resist grabbing tickets to the NCLS play-off game between the Phillies and the Padres. If the Phillies won, it would kick them into the World Series—and boyyyy did they win. Neither of us will ever forget what is was like being part of that crowd as Bryce Harper hit a homerun to secure the win.
The other beautiful thing? Our team traveled a solid amount, too— from Key West to Rosemary Beach to Louisiana to Colombia, and all throughout the states.
Unfortunately, our first-ever, in-person team retreat to Wrightsville Beach, NC was cancelled as I tested positive for the flu the day before leaving. (UH, the odds of that!!) It felt like months of planning and dollars invested went down the drain—but it also really challenged me in surrendering to whatever else God had in mind for me & our team.
Alright, let’s get into the “serious” numbers, shall we?
While I’m still awaiting final totals, annual revenue was up and exceeded 2021’s, bringing us up into a new tier, and reaching the goal I’d set at the onset of the year. This December I largely focused on a financial review, looking over profitability margins and better knowing my numbers. This guided process (through The Social Bungalow’s Business Expansion Blueprint) was incredibly enlightening and enabled me to confidently make decisions, including a few changes to our pricing & offerings for 2023.
This number doesn’t include specific launch emails – just regular content and our monthly newsletter, Weekend Wine & Words, which is still going strong!
Our highest number in a single calendar year, made possible by a talented team of 5 writers. But honestly? I felt the height of this number and would actually like to see it come down in 2023. We shared a few lines we love & copy snippets from the year in this IG post.
Connor and I brought back the Wine Stains podcast in August of 2022 for a 6-episode season. We love doing it, but on top of introducing #CUatBrunch – which ran for a total of 16 episodes, time became our biggest obstacle.
However, I’ve got a plan up my sleeve for what to do with both of those content formats in 2023 — so stay tuned!
I also had the honor of being interviewed on the Everything is Copy podcast and contributing presentations to Tonic Site Shop, Rebel & Rise, Drop Cap Design, and being featured on Canvas Rebel and The Haven List.
Having remained busy & booked out with the agency-side of the business, we moved into a more evergreen strategy with our educational digital products. The Tasting Room was launched early in the year as a 4-part masterclass bundle, followed by relaunching Vine to Voice, our brand voice & messaging course, followed by running the final cohort of our website copywriting group program.
As announced in late November, we then pulled all existing CU Edu products from the shelf to make way for their fully revamped versions in 2023. I won’t lie to you, at the time of writing this, it will take some time to come to fruition, but you won’t want to miss it once it all releases. Stay connected & in the know about the all-new CU Edu here.
Hannah and I can’t stop laughing about this because it literally feels like we planned brand shoots all year long. So to have only pulled off one feels impossible to be true. The second was ruined by me getting the flu—butttt is sure to still happen at some point in the future.
For our 1 completed brand shoot, we worked with Marquel Patton of Marque Makes and she nailed it. We had so much fun using a local studio space, Groves VA, and doing a day-long shoot with Marquel, Hannah, Connor, and I. I felt incredibly organized and prepared going into the shoot and loved the creative direction, styling (I also worked with Find My Modish), and the final output. It feels so good to have brand images that feel like such a perfect depiction of the brand energy.
We also got to feature our fun CU-branded wine labels, designed by & in collaboration with Rachel Weeks.
This year we welcomed Senior Team Writer, Kari Cotone, Team Writer, Christina Griffin, and Team Graphic Designer, Hayley Wyatt, to the mix. All of which seamlessly jumped in and started making a big impact. See their faces & quick bios here.
Those additions led to a rounded-out team of 2 full-time employees and 5 regular contractors.
Instagram has continued to be one of our primary channels for content marketing & connection. I just love and feel so close to our community there! However, I want to branch out into other platforms this year and continue to maintain our consistent – yet – quality – over – quantity approach on Instagram.
I’ve worked with talented strategists and gained great insight from doing so, but ultimately always come back to holding on to the writing & design of our Instagram content myself – along with Hannah & Hayley’s incredible touch on it all.
But you already knew that one, right? Team faves include: Avaline, Meiomi + Vennstone Pinot Noir, Bread & Butter Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, Skin Contact (also referred to as ‘Natural’), and Sparkling.
While travel was abundant and that is a form of self-care for me, I also didn’t get in as many workouts as I would have liked. However, I did play in 4 local tennis tournaments (NBD!!) which was a huge personal goal to do even one. I fell in love with the sport and hope to play even more in 2023. As a former Division 1 college athlete, fitness is a huge part of who I am, yet I can so easily forget that when I’m caught up in deadlines and launches and chasing down work goals.
It also felt almost ironic that I had to cancel the team retreat & photoshoot (as mentioned above) – because if you read last year’s recap, I was sick around the same time of year then too. Ya think my body has been trying to tell me something the past two years?? It’s as if December has become my breaking point work-wise. (Our bodies always keep score!!) So I’ll be continuing to work toward sustainable output for myself – and ensuring the same for our team!
A word for the wise: Invest in your intellectual property – get stuff trademarked early. Honestly, don’t wait. I’m not at a time or place to say much more yet, but just trust me on this one!
Further on the topic of intellectual property … while I still get a horrible pit of my stomach feeling at the site of being directly copied, I’ve learned how critical it is to just take the emotion out of it and handle it accordingly. I started creating PDF documents with side-by-side comparisons of the imitations and emailing them directly to the creator behind it. This left no room for debate and thankfully, allowed the situation to be dealt with simply and quickly.
With growing to a team of 7 this year, collectively managing 65 client projects, plus 3 big launches, I quickly learned I can’t be all ‘doing’ and no leading/planning/forecasting. I’ve shied away from considering myself the “CEO” of Copy Uncorked – (because I mean, it’s a small business, ya know?), but I started to learn the hard way, someone has to be! I felt stretched being lead copywriter, copyeditor, content creator & marketer, course creator, lead instructor, the finance person, the HR person…you name it.
A lot of the back half of the year has entailed drilling down on what’s essential for me to do and what’s not, getting comfortable with constant decision-making, and working closely with Hannah (whose role also encompasses project management) to enable me to move more and more effectively into the true CEO of the business. It’s been a process and an evolution that’s certainly still at play.
Thank you immensely for caring enough to even read this post, and for being part of our community in whatever capacity you are.
Personally, I’ve felt God’s intended purpose and hand on this business since day 1 so it’s incredibly rewarding to see how he’s led the right people to it. I can’t wait to see where he leads it all next and hope to steward it to the best of my ability.
Happy new year and here’s to 2023 🥂
Kaitlyn & the CU Team