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Cathryn Wills stands against a green wall + smiles at the camera


By Jennifer Wills


Another year nearly done, and it’s been (another) big one.  We thought 2020 was tough yet 2021 brought more challenges (to our relatively manageable life here in the developed world). 

I’ve been reflecting on the year that was, and looking back to where the business was a year ago.  2020 was coming to a close, I’d given up the lease on our studio in a co-working space, as I was tired of paying rent on a space that, during multiple lockdowns, inhibited team members from attending combined with the fact that sales were inconsistent, our team spirit was waning + my head was scattered. 

 A black Sans Beast cactus leather handbag + striped webbing strap, laying on a white terrazzo plinth

 A Sans Beast Noir + Gold Reader Satchel atop a stack of magazines on a faux fur chair

I felt insecure about the business + my capacity to run it with excellence, for a good deal of 2020.  I looked for (business) love in all the wrong places, seeking confirmation that I could do this, that I could manage this entity, that it was worthwhile to keep going.  It was a lonely + frankly confronting time.  I didn’t wake from this quagmire of shitdom until November. 

By that stage, for a variety of reasons, the team was reduced in size, I’d moved into our home office, and I worked to make a solid plan for 2021.  I recognised a few things. 


Comparison is the thief of joy.  Comparing yourself or your business to others – particularly through a pandemic – is fruitless. 

Advice is nice, but no one knows your business (or what you wish to create) like you.  Make your own plans.  Hone + harness your inner voice – she/he/they won’t let you down.

Get clear on what success means to you.  I’m still working this one out.  I want us to contribute boldly to the awareness that is building in the world regarding animal exploitation for fashion.  I want to employ people + that includes myself + my partner John.  I want us to make something we’re all proud of.  I want to keep evolving as a business owner + as an individual.  I want to lessen our impact on the earth.


Various Sans Beast bags sitting in the studio, on stools, plinths + chairs.  The walls are green and the sun is shining in.

CW at Edgar's Mission Farm Sanctuary

It all passes. Sales are good, sales are tough.  Some days are challenging + some uplifting.  Getting lost in the drama of the moment doesn’t serve anyone. 

Our community are at the core of our success + I’m so grateful for the growth of the Sans Beast brand + expansion of our world.  This doesn’t mean that every person who emails us with aggression + unreasonable requests is right; this year taught me to revel in the good feedback, learn from the constructive words + let go of passive aggression on the odd occasion it comes through.  We’re all trying to navigate life as best we can, and our response to incoming grumpy missives is within our control.  Let it goooooo….

Social media is not life.  That is all that needs to be said about this.

Building a team has been tough but liberating.  I’ve written about this before + will no doubt continue to feel this – small business is not for everyone + that’s OK.  Wanting to be a part of an acorn that may one day be an oak tree is entirely different to joining an old growth forest.  We’re finishing 2021 with a small but tightknit team + feeling good about what 2022 will bring. 

Mental health takes work.  Meditation, ignoring negative self talk, reading, spending time in nature, moving the body, talking to friends + family, helping others + aiming to do some good in the world…it all helps to alleviate anxiety + bring calm to the day.

 The Sans Beast Team L-R: John, Jennifer, Valeria, Indigo, Cathryn + Rachel

Thank you for being here, for supporting Sans Beast, for spreading the word, for visiting us in our Brunswick HQ studio, for considering the notion that fashion should not come at the cost of animal cruelty + exploitation. 

Wishing you + yours a beautiful festive season + inspiring start to 2022. 


Cathryn XO


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