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Quilt Pattern Copyright Limitations

Quilt pattern copyright limitations

Last week we answered the question “If I write an original pattern, do I automatically own the copyright to that pattern?” This week we expand to cover limitations.

Copyright limitation 1

Most quilts are too common. Creating a pattern using a traditional method doesn’t provide copyright. Think of methods used for quilts in museums or quilts older than the Great Depression.

Copyright limitation 2

Techniques are also not protected. The function you use to create your pattern (i.e. how you bound your quilt) is considered functional, and therefore, not protected under copyright. Since they’re considered a system, things like patents and trade secrets can protect functional techniques.

Copyright limitation 3

The math you used to create your quilt pattern is not protected. As we quilters know, that is a little ridiculous as the math is the most important part. Unfortunately lawyers group things like quilt patterns and recipes into one group. Recipes aren’t protected, but a recipe book (including the selection, arrangement, and coordination of recipes) are.

To protect your math on an original quilt pattern create access controls. An example would be requiring payment for access to the math.

What does copyright get you?

To reiterate, the selection, arrangement, and coordination of your quilt pattern are protected. Your image of the quilt and the directions how you put them together are protectable (also referred to as a compilation in copyright terms). However, the individual images, math, and other parts may not be protected.

Inspiration for this post comes from “Copyrighting Quilt Patterns,” by Elizabeth Townsend Gard, avid quilter and Tulane University Law professor, published in the October 2022 issue of Creative Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to Creative Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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How to Copyright a Quilt Pattern

copyright law

Have you created a quilt pattern and want to share it with the world? Read on to learn how to copyright your pattern.

Special thanks to avid quilter and Tulane University Law School John E. Koerner Endowed Professor of Law, Elizabeth Townsend Gard, for answering the question “If I write an original pattern, do I automatically own the copyright to that pattern?” Tune into her podcast “Just Wanna Quilt” for more from Townsend Gard. Or, if you have other legal questions, email her at townsend@tulane.edu and she may answer it in a future issue of Creative Retailer.

How to protect my pattern

First, when you create something copyright arises automatically. That includes quilt patterns. But of course there’s more to know. Copyright protects the selection, arrangement, and coordination for that pattern. However, that protection alone is weak.

To strengthen your copyright, Townsend Gard suggest two things. First add © name, year after the pattern so the world knows its protected. Second, register your pattern with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registering is not difficult or expensive, and allows enforcement of your copyright.

What if someone infringes my copyright

This depends on a couple of factors:

  1. Did they infringe on what’s protected or did they use non-protected elements? (We’ll go over this more in next week’s blog).
  2. Did they have access to your pattern and are the patterns similar? (A court will ask this).
  3. Did you register your work?

If the infringement is on social media you can file a notice-and-takedown with the platform to begin the review process. You can also file a complaint with the Copyright Claims Board for claims under $15,000 for a cheaper and quicker option than a federal district court.

Stay tuned next week for quilt pattern copyright limitations.

Inspiration for this post comes from “Copyrighting Quilt Patterns,” by Elizabeth Townsend Gard published in the October 2022 issue of Creative Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to Creative Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Understanding Price Hikes

price hikes and inflation

Inflation recently hit a 40 year high. Read on to understand how this is affecting your business.

Shipping Containers

According to Scott Fortunoff, President of Jaftex Corp., shipping container costs were $3,000 to $5,000 prior to the pandemic. During the pandemic, however, the price of a shipping container peaked at between $25,000 and $30,000. As of mid-summer this year, prices have averaged around $20,000.

Gas

Once goods arrive onshore, they must be shipped on-site. Gas has increased around 20% over the last two years.

At one point this year, firm President Brad Krieger of Ohio-based Checker Distributors paid a 25% fuel surcharge. Krieger also added he doesn’t remember the last time FedEx’s small package service added a fuel surcharge prior to the pandemic.

Labor

Another piece to consider is labor costs. Not every aspect of creating craft goods is automated. Things like precuts are still labor intensive.

Some businesses have seen labor costs increase 15% to 20% since the pandemic and are still short staffed, like Riley Blake Designs in Utah per their CEO Bret Cloward.

Materials

Prior to the pandemic some materials used to be easier to receive, such as acrylic. Acrylic is the material used to produce the plastic shields that protect front-line workers. Combine that with the natural disaster that caused petrochemical plants in west Texas to shut down during the deep freeze of 2021, and retailers have seen six price increases in a two-year span. Director of Wisconsin-based Quilter’s Rule Patricia Simons is just one of many creative retailers who have been effected.

The price of cotton is fluctuating also. Cotton futures used to be anywhere from 50 cents to 70 cents a pound. In fall 2021, prices rose to 90 cents a pound, and in spring 2022, peaked at 150 cents per pound. Prices fell off a cliff after that but remain about 40% higher than January 2020.

Other Price Hikes

Of course, you’ve noticed inflation in other ways too. Shipping supply costs have increased 50 percent in the past two years and building utilities have increased also. Understanding these price increases can help with explaining to customers when they notice it also. When it comes to crafting I think we can all agree quality comes first.

Inspiration for this post comes from “In This Together” by Katherine House published in the October 2022 issue of Creative Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to Creative Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Provide Legacy Customer Service

customer legacy

Customer service is your business’s legacy. Read on for tips to encourage customers to shop again.

Physical Presence

The first part of leaving a legacy is your store’s physical presence. A great way to think about this is through the senses.

What does your store look like? Make sure the environment is clean, organized, and accessible.

How does your store smell? Scent leaves a strong impact. Certain scents, including lemon, peppermint, and cinnamon, support memory recall.

How does your store sound? Consider playing soothing sound tracks of classical or old-timey music.

Can you provide taste? A great way to offer this is through a coffee bar.

Leave Your Legacy

Your store’s appearance is just one piece of your business’s first impressions. The next piece comes with how you interact with the consumer.

It goes without saying but being present and active listening are vital in all of your customer interactions. Whether in person or on the phone, it is critical to be in the moment in order to gain your customer’s trust.

Post-Sale Connections

Finally, how do you keep your customer happy. A great way to do this is by following up after the sale. This is just as important as making a connection prior to one. Note, personalization is key.

For example, if your customer told you she was buying material to make a quilt for her granddaughter, follow up with a hand written note asking for a photo of the completed project. Depending on the customer, also ask for permission to post the quilt on your social media or website.

There are a multitude of follow up options so be creative. Some examples include following up with new customers about classes offered or sending birthday cards to loyal customers, among many more of course.

Inspiration for this post comes from “Customer Service Defines Your Legacy” by Julie Ressler published in the October 2022 Issue of Creative Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to Creative Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Creating a Customer Avatar: Part Two

customer avatar

Last week we learned what a customer avatar is and the data points that help create one. This week we build your customer avatar and learn a new marketing technique.

Building Your Avatar

As you know, a customer avatar represents your ideal customer. To build your customer avatar, it helps to think of an actual person. What products does she buy? What is she looking for?

After thinking of an individual, expand to your customer base. What questions come up frequently? Are you getting similar comments on your social media posts? These areas are great places to start to determine where to focus your efforts. If you still need ideas, check out our Customer Avatar Worksheet or consider sending a survey to your clientele.

Generosity Marketing

Once you know your customer the next step is to foster those relationships. There’s a lot of noise in the marketplace to cut through; how can you fulfill your customer’s hopes?

Enter generosity marketing. Generosity marketing is based on the theory if you give something away for free, it instills a sense of trust between you and your customers and lays the foundation for returning customers. The alternative (offering promos and discounts) is a more assertive sales tactic and makes customers feel like targets.

Offering things like rewards programs, giveaways, events, and charitable commitments are all pieces of generosity marketing. Being a thought leader is too. Applying these and enhancing the sense of trust between you and your customers are all excellent ways to elevate your business from the competition.

Inspiration for this post came from “Customer Avatars and Generosity Marketing” by Flossie Arend published in the October 2022 issues of American Quilt Retailer. Next week we’ll cover the second part of this post: marketing to your avatar.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to Creative Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Creating a Customer Avatar

customer avatar

Why do your customers chose to shop with you? If you don’t know the answer to this question, practice the below exercise to keep differentiating yourself from the pack.

What is a customer avatar?

A customer avatar represents your ideal customer. Creating a customer avatar is important because they are the type of person that purchases your products.

To design your company’s avatar, consider your customer’s demographics, characteristics, hopes, and fears.

  • Demographics: What is your customers age, location, gender, job status, education level, economic status, etc.
  • Characteristics: What are your customers habits, skills, and skill level? Are they in the market for bulk fabric at low costs, or artisanal fabrics for a range of crafts? These are two very different types of customers.
  • Hopes: Your customers hopes are the benefits they receive from your business. Are your customers experienced quilters, or wanting to learn?
  • Fears: Your customers fears intersect with your business’s solutions. How can you address your avatars pain points?

Customer data points

We already have demographic information on over 29,000 quilters thanks to the 2021 Quilter’s Survey. The average quilter is a retired female in her 60’s. She already knows how to quilt and starts nine to 11 quilts a year, working on them about 6 hours a week. She shops based off fabric choices and location (around 30 minutes away) and has increased her online shopping about 30%.

To get your business’s demographics, check out your social media analytics, or consider adding Google analytics to your website for additional data points.

Inspiration for this post came from “Customer Avatars and Generosity Marketing” by Flossie Arend published in the October 2022 issues of American Quilt Retailer. Next week we’ll cover the second part of this post: marketing to your avatar.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to Creative Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Budgeting for Inventory: Part Two

inventory management

Last week we covered how to budget for inventory with funds you have. (Remember, if your inventory account is empty, don’t buy more inventory!) In part two of our budgeting for inventory series, we cover what inventory to stock and how to avoid supplier marketing schemes.

Buy with your customers in mind

First, know who you’re shopping for. If your client description is as overarching as “knitters” “quilters” or “scrapbookers” you’re not differentiating yourself enough.

Second, think of who your best customers are. A list of clients likely jump to mind, but note, your best customer doesn’t have to be the highest spender. Rather, your best customer can also be the most enthusiastic or a promoter of the store.

Once you have a list of 10-20 shoppers, buy with them in mind. Ask yourself before purchasing any product if it is something your best customers would like. If they won’t like it you shouldn’t buy it.

Finally, try to find a happy-medium when ordering inventory. You don’t want to buy so much product that it overwhelms your top customers, but you also want to have enough to satisfy demand.

Shop smart for inventory

Another thing to keep in mind are marketing campaigns from vendors. Vendors will use tactics to create a sense of urgency, such as “limited supply” or “limited-time-offering.” Remember, you should only purchase inventory if it makes sense for your store and you have enough funds in the account.

Inspiration for this post came from The Not-So-Obvious Basics of Buying by Gwen Bortner published in the October 2022 issue of Creative Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to Creative Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Budgeting for Inventory

inventory budgeting

Are you spending money you don’t have for inventory? Continue reading to learn how to avoid this financial situation.

Budgeting

To avoid overspending set aside a portion of every sale in a separate account to be used specifically for inventory. If the account is empty, do not order inventory (even if a calendar reminder is telling you to do so). Once the account has money in it, the first thing to cover are orders placed but not yet paid.

To determine how much of each sale to set aside, check last year’s cost of physical goods. Then compare that as a percentage of your total sales. If you can’t find this information, anywhere from 40% to 45% is a good place to start.

Note, this account is for inventory only, not classes. As you use this system ensure the account has enough funds for basic products, as they are the backbone of your inventory.

Inventory Scheduling

Another piece of inventory is when the product arrives. The first thing to avoid is feast or famine, meaning you don’t want all of your product to arrive the same day. That means you won’t have anything new to stock your shelves with for the next three months.

To avoid this, inventory tracking is essential. Once you know how long it takes a product to ship, you have the option to contact the vendor to deliver when you need it. Most vendors are flexible on delivery dates after payment, as the sale is what matters most to them.

The other option is to cut your order. If you know the order isn’t arriving for two more months, take a look at the list and determine what you can do without.

Inspiration for this post came from The Not-So-Obvious Basics of Buying by Gwen Bortner published in the October 2022 issue of Creative Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to Creative Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Pandemic Profits

pandemic

It’s been 30 months since the pandemic began. How does your business stack up? If your business benefitted from the side-effects of stay-at-home mandates, know that an increase of sales doesn’t equate to an increase of profits. Read on to determine if your increase in sales actually equated to a better business operation.

Gross margin percentage

The first place to start is your gross margin. The gross margin is listed as a percentage on your income statement. Look back for every year back to 2018. How has it changed?

To determine why these changes occurred, go to profitsplus.org and use the free “logical profit and loss statement” calculator. Expenses are grouped by category including advertising, payroll, operating expenses, etc. Compare these expenses to your percentage of sales.

If the past 30 months really has made you a better business operator, your gross margin percentage should have remained the same or even increased since pre-pandemic years. Business owners who equate in increase in sales to an increase in profits aren’t seeing the full picture.

Pandemic prices

Another thing to keep in mind is the increase in product price. Do you increase price on the sales floor when new product comes in at a higher price? If you’re selling inventory based on what you paid, you might want to reconsider. Remember, your cost of operating has increased just as the cost of inventory has increased also.

Inspiration for this post came from “Growing Beyond the Pandemic” by Tom Shay published in the August 2022 issues of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Retail Merchandising

merchandising

Psychology plays a huge role in retail merchandising. Read on for ways to display your merchandise to turn inventory faster.

Simple tricks

There are many ways to arrange your merchandise to increase sales, but let’s start with the 2-finger rule. Simply put, there should be a two finger space in between your product and the top of the shelf. This both maximizes your shelf space as well as presents the product logically to customers.

Speaking of shelves, most people scan shelves in a Z when looking. Customers also compare products horizontally.

It goes without saying, but try not to place heavy products on higher shelves. 15% of people didn’t buy an item because it was too heavy when moving it.

Finally, consider rotating products. Moving an item from the bottom shelf to eye-level increased sales by 87 percent.

Color merchandising

Color obviously plays a role too. Check out the list below to encourage different feelings:

  • Blue: Promotes peace and tranquility
  • Green: Encourages freshness and nature
  • Purple: Equates to spirituality
  • Yellow: Spreads energy and happiness
  • Pink: Makes people romantic
  • White: Creates a simple and clean atmosphere

There are hundreds of tips that I’m sure we didn’t cover. What have you learned in your career you can share with the quilt retailer community? Comment on this blog for merchandising tips that have worked for you.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.