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Keep Me in Stitches Holiday Pop-Up

Keep Me in Stitches

Going to be in the Tampa, Florida area December 12, 13, and 14? Check out Keep Me In Stitches’ holiday pop-up!

Three different owners of three boutique crafting stores will come together to offer contemporary twists on the timeless art of sewing, needlepoint, and knitting.

Keep Me in Stitches is a specialty sewing center located in the south of Tampa and will host both The Flying Needles from Bellair and Criativity in Largo. Together, The Flying Needles and Criativity in Largo will offer special instruction that begins with a “make and take” reception between 4 and 7 p.m. on the 12.

Schedule

The pop-up collaboration is located at Keep Me in Stitches at 4504 West Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa 33609. This event is free of charge. Check out the schedule below, or on their website:

  • Dec. 12 from noon to 7 p.m. (Kickoff reception with make-and-take from 4 to 7 p.m.)
  • Dec. 13 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Dec. 14 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Fabric, yarns and patterns from Kaffe Fassett will also be available. “Kaffe” Fassett, MBE is an American-born artist, famous for his colorful designs in needlepoint, patchwork, knitting, painting and ceramics.

Keep Me in Stitches owner Melissa Helms said she was inspired to host the pop-up  because of the success of a pop up needlepoint shop over the summer. “Sewing, knitting and needlepoint bring a certain sense of satisfaction and serve as a creative outlet, and we like the idea of being the conduit to stitch this community together,” Helms said. “And when small business owners can collaborate and partner, we can offer so much more to our community.”

Guests can participate in a variety of make-and-take activities including needlepoint basics, simple knitting, and machine embroidery. So what are you waiting for, head to Tampa to join this awesome event!


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Who’s who at Quilt Market?

Who's who

Back by popular demand, we included a who’s who guide to the quilting industry in our digital issue summarizing this year’s fall International Quilt Market.

You can check out the top 100 people there, but check out spots 11 through 20 here.

20. Jenny Doan

Ever heard of the Missouri Star Quilt Company? If not you’re missing out on the multi-store complex known as the “Disneyland” of quilting. Oh, and not that it’s a big deal, but did we mention Doan also runs one of the largest quilting programs on YouTube?

19. Philip De Leon

De Leon, along with members of the De Leon Design Group, direct premier textile design house Alexander Henry Fabrics. 

18. Leah Day

Day is the creator of Free Motion Quilting Project, a video series with workshops on quilt-making or machine-quilting.

17. Nancy Crow

A jack-of-all-trades, Crow is a teacher, leader in the development of art quilting, and co-founder of Quilt National.

16. Richard Cohen

Cohen is the fourth generation family member of manufacturing fabrics exclusive to quilting and home sewing. He, along with his father and brother, run RJR Fabrics.

15. Kim Christopherson

Kim operates under Kimberbell Designs and is a fabric designer for Maywood Studio, a leading provider in quilting and machine embroidery products.

14. Hollis Chatelain

Humble brag, but one of Chatelain’s quilts was named as one of the top 100 American Quilts in the 20th century. One-time residences in Africa and Europe inspired her work on both social and environmental issues.

13. Kari Carr

Carr does it all, wearing multiple hats as author, quilt designer, instructor, notion developer, and fabric designer. Carr refers to her business New Leaf Stitches as “fresh ideas from a recycled Home Ec teacher.”

12. Susan Carlson

Carlson, both an author and teacher, instructs classes in the U.S. and abroad to create rich, mutli-layer collage pieces. 

11. Eleanor Burns

Burns was inducted into the Quilter’s Hall of Fame in 2012, likely due to her 40 years of operating Quilt in a Day, a franchise that spreads the possibilities of making a quilt in a short amount of time.

To find out who landed in the top ten, (and so many more names you need to know) download the digital issue today.


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Threads of Success

Threads of Success

The debut of Threads of Success conference was a hit. The event—held in conjunction with the fall International Quilt Market—attracted over 100 attendees varying in experience from brand new to expanding an already-established business.

The conference included keynote speakers, breakout sessions, networking events, social activities and exclusive time on the quilt market floor.

Conference Feedback

Threads of Success Coordinator Cheryl Sleboda considered the event (wait for it) a success saying, “I don’t think I’m alone in the thought that Threads of Success was a resounding hit. The feedback from those who attended overwhelmed us, and people could not stop talking about the amount of value this event was for them personally and professionally. The buzz reached well outside of our participants, as we heard from vendors on the Market floor.”

Attendees left the event feeling clear on the direction they wanted to go and a member of the quilt community.

Attendee Tricia Schroeter summarized the event the best, “It was extremely comforting, inspiring, and validating spending a weekend of learning with people in all levels of their business. We all have to start somewhere, and hearing tips and tricks from industry leaders so willing to share their successes and failures was incredibly humbling.”

The Future of Threads of Success

And presenters agreed, remarking the audience inspired them to push their creative boundaries. Presenters also wished they had something similar when they began their career in the quilt industry.

In the future, attendees of Threads of Success is expanding to include features for previous attendees and post-show online activities.

If you’re unclear on how to pursue your dream in the quilt industry, consider checking out Threads of Success. With how fast this year has gone, the next quilt market will be here in a blink of an eye.

Threads of Success conference attendees.

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Quilt Market Trends

Quilt Market Trends

Fall Quilt Market 2019 has come and gone and if you haven’t heard, American Quilt Retailer’s digital issue covering all-things quilt market is now available! And did we mention it’s free? Head to our website to download your copy, after reading this shortened version of the trends we noticed at this year’s market.

Textured Fabrics

One of the trends at quilt market was textured fabrics. Textured fabrics were added to the edges of pieces or used on summer blankets. Some of the patterns matched the different textures making the projects double cool. Consider things like wool, fabrics with ribbing, and ultra-soft fabric for the warmer months, too.

Travel

Quilt market had the travel bug this year with travel themes present at multiple vendors. Whether it be place-specific (with images like the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben) or how you get to different places (planes, trains, and cars) travel is definitely a craze. Consider adding a hometown pride project or display in your store to capitalize on the fad.

Gifts

Tis the season of giving, and quilt market knows it. Vendors had a variety of gift options for a variety of clientele. Gifts included useful items like shear sets, or cute gifts like themed tea towels. Organizers, craft sets, and colorful kitchen utensils were all a part of the gift sets too. Consider getting gifts that aren’t Christmas-themed so they can be used all year long.

Kids

Want to gift the young ones in your life something special? Make their gift! Quilt market had loads of options; patterns include cloth books from quilt blocks that tell a story, embroidery pieces that together make a beautiful doll house, and another embroidery piece of a handmade mat that an imaginary town could be built on.

These are just a few ideas of fads to add to your store. Quilt market doesn’t tell all though, what have your customers been asking for lately? Any trends you’re noticing? Leave your comments so the quilt retail community can stay up to date.


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Habits of Successful People

Successful people

Do you ever see someone and think to yourself, wow; how do they do it? Successful people are everywhere, all you have to do is turn on the news and you can hear about someone accomplishing what seems like an unattainable feat. Check out this post to find out the habits successful people share.

Purpose

The first step to becoming successful is defining what that word means to you. This can be done through goal setting. Successful people take this habit even further by 1) knowing the why behind their goal and 2) beginning with the end in mind. To become successful, they start their planning with where they want to end and work their way backwards.

Discipline

Successful people often have incredible self-discipline. This is also a two part answer, how often do you spend time scrolling through social media on your phone? To help manage your time better, set timers on these applications to become more diligent. Time is money and successful people use their time wisely.

Another way successful people are disciplined is through perseverance during set-backs. They take responsibility for these set-backs, and frame each obstacle as a learning experience that can only help them grow.

Growth

Speaking of growth, one of the biggest ways successful people become successful is through self-development. The majority of their growth comes through reading; successful people like to read and they read a lot.

Risk taking is another habit successful people share. One way successful people take risks is by being prepared. Through reading, successful people first seek to understand, then seek to be understood. When they understand something it’s easier to take risks to ultimately become understood.

What habits have you had to learn to help you accomplish your goals? What habits do you have that take you further from your goals? Share your tips in the comments below.


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Customer service for disgruntled customers

Customer service

Every retail employee has dealt with a disgruntled customer. When service sells, follow these steps to ensure you (and your employees) lead with your best foot forward.

Listen

Listen to your customer even if you think you know what they’re going to say. Listening to your customer’s complaint is therapeutic for them and shows empathy in you. When replying, don’t raise your voice and practice what’s known as the Socratic method. Simply put, the Socratic method asking more questions to clarify your customer’s needs. In the long run, this can save you time and effort when addressing the complaint.

Don’t take it personal

Remember, what the customer is upset about is the business, not you. This will help you remain calm since getting angry never helps any situation. Assuming all your customers are watching will help hold you to these standards. By not taking the complaint personal, you’ll also know when it’s fair to give in. If the customer had been on the receiving end of a disservice, practicing empathy will help you decide when a compromise is justified.

Follow through

If you say you’re going to give the customer a call back, call them back. Telling them the next steps sets the expectation so your service doesn’t fall short for them again.

It’s just a matter of time before one of your employees will have to help a disgruntled customer. Training them for this situation will ensure they provide top notch service when your business needs it most.


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How to manage your anxiety

Anxiety

Anxiety can happen anytime and anywhere. It’s something that can creep up from behind or happen all at once. Since anxiety it something we all suffer from, check out these tips to help manage your stress levels in ten minutes or less.

Meditation and mindfulness

There are a variety of meditation techniques and apps that can help you find which technique you like the most. Some are free and some aren’t free, but they can be found in your app store with a simple “meditation” search.

One of the most common meditation techniques include a body scan, where you imagine scanning your body from head to toe then back again to notice how your body is feeling. It’s a good time to see where you’re holding stress, and to release those areas.

Another technique is a mindfulness exercise. Start each day with an affirmation and watch as your mindset changes for the better. Chose simple verbs such as, “I respect,” “I love,” or “I honor” and finish the sentence. At first it may be difficult but after some repetition the statements will become easier to finish.

These, along with simple breathing exercises, are quick and easy ways to center yourself back to reality.

Anxiety tools

Journaling is one simple practice you can start to manage your stress. The best part about journaling is that it can be as unstructured as you want it to be. You can write every day, or whenever you think about it, and both ways can be incredibly therapeutic.

Adding yoga into your exercise routine can help your anxiety levels too. Yoga classes are in abundance everywhere these days and instructors even have their practices on YouTube. If you’re not familiar with yoga, each practice ends with something called shavasana, which is a time meant to sit alone with your thoughts. The practice of stretching beforehand is to prepare your mind for the moment when it can sit alone and focus. Whether you carve out ten minutes or an hour, yoga is a tradition that has lasted centuries (probably for a reason).

Studies have shown that anxiety techniques increases productivity in the work force. Has your business considered offering tools to it’s employees? Managing your anxiety can help you keep your business on track.


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Disaster Planning

Disaster planning

Disaster planning: what a bleak topic to address, right? Despite it’s lack of appeal, it is important for your business to prepare for whatever this winter may throw your way.

Communicate

Do you have an easy way to contact your employees to let them know if the store will close during inclement weather? What if their checks are delivered by mail? Some changes your business could make (like switching to direct deposit) will make your life easier in the long run too.

After letting your employees know they can stay at home, send an email blast to your customers letting them know too. Don’t forget to post on social media as well (and the best part is you can do all of this while still in your pajamas).

Review

You likely already have systems in place to help with the aftermath of a disaster. Review your insurance policy to make sure things your business may be susceptible to (flooding for instance) is covered. Knowing what your insurance covers before you use it can help alleviate the stress that comes from disasters; coverages can even include things such as shrubs, business continuation, and much more. Speak with your insurance agent to find out more.

Plan

It goes without saying, but a big part of disaster planning is the planning part. Is your business ready in case the power goes out? Keep extra blankets and flashlights handy in case this happens.

Regularly checking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is always a good idea. If you don’t already have escape routes planned for fires, then add that to your list too (and post the routes in each room). Your employees will only be ready during a disaster if tools are provided before, so for everyone’s safety, educate your employees on how to handle themselves and customers during a worst-case scenario.


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How to make (and use) a QR code

QR Code

Has your business ever used a QR code? QR codes are found everywhere today; brochures, billboards, social media, you name it. Not only will this post outline how to make your own QR codes, but how your business can use them as well.

First, what is a QR code? A QR code contains an array of machine-readable black and white squares that includes information about a product—typically a URL—and is accessed by the camera on a smartphone (fun fact, QR stands for quick response and was invented for the automotive industry in Japan).

How to make a QR code

Start with a simple Google search. Like all trends in technology, the software to make QR codes changes as much as the weather.  One good thing is that you can still make these codes for free.

Some older QR coding websites include RCode Monkey, QR Stuff, and Scanova. A more recent Google search shows QR Code Generator as the search engine’s best option. The more you use and play around with QR code generators, the quicker you’ll develop a preference.

Going back to the example, QR Code Generator provides extensive options, in both files to include in the code (MP3, email, SMS to name a few) as well as display options for your code (Want a border? They have it! Want your company’s logo? No problem!).

Where to use QR codes

QR code generator outlines the best design and printing options for you code on brochures, business cards, banners, labels, food packaging, tickets, and more. Depending how much you want to pay, the site also allows you to track your campaign, update your QR code via the website so you don’t have to reprint your materials, and allows multiple people access to the same account.

QR codes are a great way to measure how many people are viewing your advertisements or are interested in your events. Remember to include them in your next marketing campaign to see just how far your reach really goes.


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Crafts for Fall

Halloween is just around the corner, and with how quickly this summer went by, it’s not a bad idea to start on your fall crafts (if you haven’t already). Here are some ideas to get your store ready.

Craft Ideas

  1. Pumpkin pin cushions. Turn this into an event or make some during your down time to throw around the store (you can even sell some of what you make). Check out this tutorial from YouTube to get a free step-by-step guide.
  2. Costume area. Take some of the tulle from the fabric area and move it to a special area just for making costumes. Also include a lot of orange, black, and seasonal fabrics. Throwing in some costume patterns wouldn’t hurt either.
  3. Window display. Freshen up your window display with easy projects. Paint pumpkins, pine cones, and include baskets of apples for easy options.
  4. Wreaths. Wreaths are becoming decorating options year round, but take full force in the Fall. Practice for the holiday season with leaf, scarecrow, or acorn-themed wreaths. This could also be part of your crafting event, or just something else to add to your window display.
  5. Flower arrangement. Order a Fall-themed flower arrangement from your local flower store to keep at the checkout counter. Not only will your customers enjoy the personal touch, but you will too.

People just can’t seem to get enough of Fall—the flavors, the activities, and the colors. Make sure your store capitalizes on this season with these quick and easy ideas.

Does your store have any fall traditions? Comment below what your team does to make the most of America’s favorite season.


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.