The Yips - Blackbird Supply Co.

The Yips

by Jody Dyer

Earlier this summer, I happened to hear a podcast about the yips. For those who don't know, the yips generally refers to an abrupt and often inexplicable shift in an athlete's ability (usually golf, baseball, or tennis) that renders them incapable of performing a highly skilled move. All of a sudden, a pitcher won't be able to throw a strike, or a golfer loses her swing. It's equal parts physical, emotional, and psychological, and there is no known cure. Something similar happens to artists and makers. You hone a specialized skill over several years and perform it thousands of times, and then one day, you just can't. Or at least you can't do it in the same way.

Online retail has become an increasingly crowded race to the bottom, and the pressure to create new content at lightning speed (not to mention photograph it, list it, market it, package it, ship it, etc.) takes a toll. As a result, this past year has felt like a long, drawn out episode of the yips. The old technique isn't working anymore, and we haven't taken the time we need to discover a new one.

So, in an act of resistance, we took two months off, unplugged from social media, and dove head first back into basics. What we discovered is this:

1. We want to decrease the amount of new inventory we put out into the world. We've always been careful to source our goods from socially responsible manufacturers, but it doesn't feel like enough anymore. Instead, we're committed to filling our shop with a curated collection of vintage goods. Thrifting has always been a huge part of our lives, so it's a natural next step.

2. Nutrition, food, and cooking are also a big part of who we are, and we want to incorporate more of that into the business through designs, housewares (both vintage and new), and sharing recipes.

3. Failure has consistently been the biggest driver of our growth. That's probably true for most, but we wish that people talked about it more. Hands down, the best conversations we've had over the past decade have centered around the heartbreak of failing at something you love. Brene Brown (one of our faves!) uses the term composting failure, but what does that look like for a micro business? What's the method for repurposing the heartbreak, or in our case, the yips, to chart a better way forward? We don't have the answers yet, but we plan to share what that process looks like for us. Get ready to see an 11 year old business baby get reborn! It's gonna be messy.

If you're interested in the podcast I mentioned, it's The Anthropocene Reviewed. I highly recommend subscribing.

Photo by Penguinuhh on Unsplash



Jody Dyer
Jody Dyer

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