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What I've Learned About Owning a Quilting Business

 

Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting with Amanda @notyourgrannysquiltshow for an interview for her podcast.  We talked about so many things, but it was one of those moments when I had a bird’s eye view of my journey so far.

If you had told me when I purchased my first little sewing machine off Amazon, that I was starting this incredible journey, I think I would have wanted to believe you, but not sure I would have.

On paper, I’m the least likely suspect to have come this far. 

I didn’t grow up quilting.  I didn’t know how to sew with a machine until 2019.  I didn’t have any connections in this world.  I didn’t have a graphic design background or any idea of business strategy. 

All I had was this immense drive to learn and a love of quilting.  I would sit for hours just practicing sewing a straight line.  I was determined to get my ¼” seam allowance consistent.  I wanted to learn to turn corners.  I wanted to learn how to bind with a diagonal seam. 

 When I saw the quilters on Instagram, with perfectly flat seams and great points, it didn’t discourage me.  It fired me up.  I wanted to reach that level.

And as I learned more and began sharing more on Instagram, I began to realize that I had always loved marketing and photography.  Even though I didn’t have an education in either of those fields, I found I had a knack for it.  But it made sense.  When I get a magazine, I don’t read the stories as much as I look at the ads and photography.  I’ve been this way as long as I can remember.

I don’t pretend that I’m the best there is.  All I’m saying is that it’s been wonderful to see my journey unfold and to tap into hidden talents I wouldn’t have known were there. 

And I know there are many of you who feel this way, too.  For some, quilting will always be a fun hobby.  But there are some of you who yearn as I did—who feel that this is something you would like to pursue full time. 

So I’m writing this for you and sharing some of the things I’ve learned along the way. 

One of the things I have learned through all of this is that, nothing is more important than being kind and supportive to each other.  While I may have had interests and the ability to work hard, I wouldn’t be where I am without lots and lots of quilters who befriended me and supported me and who I could brainstorm with.

Today, I’ve been blessed with ambassadorships with companies like Art Gallery Fabrics and Arrow Sewing Furniture and Janome.  These are all companies I had admired since I started sewing. 

I dared to dream of working with them, even though there was no reason to think I would.

So to look around today and see that I am working with every company I dreamed of working with, it’s really, really surreal.

 I guess what I am trying to say is, this can be yours, too.   If I had some tidbits of wisdom to share it’s these things.
 
  1. Never sell yourself short.  You can do what you dream of doing.
  1. Be ambitious, but never jealous.  Subconsciously, jealousy means you think you can’t have it, too. 
  1. Work hard, but be humble. There is always going to be somebody who is a better sewist, photographer, communicator, who is growing faster, etc. 
  1. Take risks on yourself.  If you are going to bet on anyone, let it be you.  Be willing to invest wisely.  Take a class.  Buy the things you think you will need. 
  1. Envision what you want for yourself and create a plan on how to get there.  Every day, check in with yourself and ask, “Is what I’m doing today preparing me for what I want tomorrow?”
  1. Be kind and pay it forward.   Part of the reason I love and accept ambassadorships is so that I can share with my followers whenever possible.  I always angle for a giveaway or try to share other’s work so more eyes can be on it.

         I never subscribe to working in a silo or not sharing anyone else’s work.  I                 always try to comment or reply. If I don't, it is only because I didn't see it.

       7.  Don’t be afraid of failure.  Not every idea will work, but failure is a necessary            part of learning.  If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t growing.         

  1. Have realistic expectations. Rome was not built in a day. It is easy to look at others and wonder how they are getting what you are not.  So read point #2 again. 
    And, because I know this is important, don’t expect to replace your salary with this work right away.  We have all seen stories of quilters who make a consistent, annual salary with their patterns or shop. 

         But when you take a look, most have been doing this for years.  Or have                   worked really, absurdly hard and had the time and the money to invest. 

         Not all of us are in the same boat.  And that’s ok. 
         Find what defines success for you.  When I had my fabric shop, I was                       making a lot more money than now that I’m writing patterns. 

        But I also didn’t have a good life balance.  For me, success is when I have a              good work/life balance.  I’m able to earn less if it means not working 60-70              hours a week with thousands of dollars in overhead.

  1. Never compare. Spend your time working on your own work.  If you asked me right now, how many followers someone has, I couldn’t tell you. 

         Comparing can lead to negativity and you are using your very important                   energy on someone else.  If it makes you feel discouraged, don’t engage in               it.  

       Believe me when I say, this field can be discouraging enough without seeking           out more discouragement.

  1. And my most important tip, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Take breaks when you need to.  You will have days of being discouraged. You will have days when you feel like nothing you are doing is right. 

         Ask yourself why.  Is something personal going on that is causing you to not             have your focus on work?  Then focus on where you are needed. None of this           matters in comparison to big things like your health or your family’s well-                   being.

         Are you just tired and need a break?  Take one.

         Never forget:  Succeeding in a creative field is not a sprint—it’s a marathon. 

If you have read this far, you should know you are one of the ones that can do this.  I can’t overstate the importance of learning and seeking out help where you can.  You CAN do this.

So there you go.  My best tips.  I am always happy to help with general questions.  And if you ever want to work one on one with me to help your business, I do offer creative business consulting.  Having someone in your corner is invaluable.  I hope to someday see you fulfilling your dreams.

Follow me on Instagram @midlife_quilter for all the latest updates and don’t forget to subscribe to my monthly newsletter here.  My newsletters share my news and provides exclusive info you won’t find anywhere else.

Until next time, happy quilting.

Victoria

 

 

 

 


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