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Preparing a class

Class

Never taught a class before and don’t know where to start? Don’t hesitate to do something you’ve always wanted to do, check out this post to get the ball rolling.

The syllabus

The first step to preparing a course is making a syllabus. Who are your students? What are you trying to teach them? Write down your goals (a few short statements is fine), the supplies you’ll need, and start making your course schedule.

The lesson plan

Determine an objective for each class session, while keeping class time in mind. Some people like a more structured class, so consider including a beginning, middle, and an end to each session. Be sure that your lesson plans are flexible, you never know what question you’re going to get or what hiccups you may encounter along the way.

Managing your class

Talk to other instructors before you begin. Not only will you learn from them, but they can give you ideas too. Learning who your students are and what they want is incredibly important as well. Consider sending a Google survey to your customers to find out what they’re interested in learning. And during the class, be sure to reach out to everyone often, don’t assume that everyone will ask for help when they need it.

Keep in touch with your students after the class for feedback. What did you do right, and what could be done better? What other classes are they interested in participating in?

Teaching a class can be one of the most fulfilling parts of being a quilt retailer; take advantage of the opportunity and help your craft community grow.


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Great Display

By now you probably have your 2020 planning completed (or about there anyway) but I’m sure you’re saving some ideas for later. Check out these display tips and ideas we gathered at last fall’s Quilt Market.

Display Tips

  • Eye hooks: A great way to display quilts is with this pragmatic idea; eye hooks and clothespins. The folks at Everyday Stitches used the display idea to help customers out with frequently asked questions: “What patterns are fat quarter friendly, what patterns are simple, and what patterns are fast?” Graphics and patterns were included above the display quilts.
  • Tidy: Being neat not only looks nice, but make shopping easier for your customers too. Just take Elizabeth Hartman‘s idea of using a library card system as a way to showcase her new fabrics. The library cards include the sku of the fabric they’re in.

Ideas

  • Seasonal themes: Don’t be afraid to be bold. Stephanie Brandenburg of Frond Design Studios did just that by incorporating an outdoor patio table and umbrella stand in her display. Editor of American Quilt Retailer Heidi Kaisand loved the idea so much she went home and implemented the idea in her store!
Display idea
  • Wearable items: Brandenburg also shows both traditional and modern ways of using fabric with her mannequin that shows a garment and a wearable pin. Brandenburg is known for creating unconventional artwork that just so happens to coincide perfectly with Frond Design Studios’ brand.
Fabric display

What display ideas do you have for your store? What processes have you found streamline the display process? Leave a comment below of ideas that have worked great for you, and ideas you’re leaving in 2019.


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.

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National Sewing Month 2020

National Sewing Month

2020 may have just started but the Sewing & Craft Alliance (SCA) is already planning for National Sewing Month.

September became National Sewing Month in 1982 because of President Ronald Reagan. He dedicated the month “in recognition of the importance of home sewing to our Nation.”

Thanks to the Sewing & Craft Alliance, the entire month of September is flush with celebrations of the art form through fun, education, and events for sewers of all skill levels. It doesn’t matter if you’ve held a needle one time or a thousand times, National Sewing Month celebrates creativity and togetherness.

And the hype is sure to spread; sewers will gather in fabric stores, sewing lounges, schools, and more to celebrate their passion and dedication to sewing. New sewers can learn a new craft and skilled sewers can take on another embellishment or expand their skill-set. Business, too, are encouraged to take part in the fun.

The SCA promotes the month with it’s partner and non-profit organization, the American Sewing Guild (ASG). The ASG has chapters across the country and helps to educate sewers and fulfill it’s mission of advancing “sewing as an art and life skill.”

Sewing & Craft Alliance

The Sewing & Craft Alliance is currently in the process of deciding a theme for this years National Sewing Month as well as building a website. Once that is complete, sponsorship opportunities will become available. For more information, check out this website.

Other resources offered by the Sewing & Craft Alliance include free SEW-lutions Education Guidelines and the Trained Sewing Instructor program.


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Thank You from AQR

New Year

As 2019 draws to a close we took some time to reflect on everything that’s happened in the past year.  Notre Dame burned, the Washington Nationals won their first-ever World Series, and we saw the first image of a Black Hole.

At American Quilt Retailer, we survived two International Quilt Markets, released our 150th issue, hosted educational sessions, and so much more.

Starting a new year, and even a new decade, is a great time to evaluate the direction you want your life, your relationships, and your business to go. What did 2010 look like? Are you happy with where you’ll be in 2020? In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Thank You from AQR

Of course, thank you for being a loyal reader. At American Quilt Retailer, we strive to bring together a community so that we can all work smarter, not harder. We can’t help but notice how generous, creative, hard-working, dedicated, and go-getting all of you are and we are honored to be a part of your career development.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2020!


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.

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Quilt Market Finds

Finds

It may be too late to shop for Christmas, but soon enough the post-holiday sales will begin. Check out this list of Quilt Market finds to see if anything you want is going on a major sale.

Quilt Market Finds

  1. Creative Grids Crazier Eights Template. Scrap hoarders have a new favorite product. This whole set can cut odd-sized scraps or multiple 10-inch squares. Pair this with the booklet String Theory 2.0 to make a scrap lovers day.
  2. Odif Adhesives. One such product, Odif 808 reactivating adhesive, can turn parchment paper into freezer paper piecing (as demonstated at Quilt Market). Or you can try their Odicoat Gel to make cotton fabric into a water-resistant, oilcloth-like product.
  3. The Grace Company Quilting Machines. The Q-nique 15 Pro has a new touch screen designed to be user-friendly and easy to use. It also includes faster stitching and enhanced stitch quality (and was available for test driving at Quilt Market).
  4. Lisa Bongean’s Wool, Needle & Thread Book. Bongean’s book from Martingale includes detailed, close up photos of how to make stitches and embellish projects just like the author.
  5. Picture Window Reverse Applique Tool. Designed by Jerriann Massey, this tool can complete products that range from traditional to modern.
  6. Creative Grids 60 Degree Mini Diamond Ruler. Designed by Kristin Moser, the ruler comes in multiple sizes and can be used to cut a variety of shapes and designs, one of which is shown below.

What has been this season’s best selling tools in your store? Share in the comments below and while you’re at it, check out these items and more in the free digital issue from Fall Quilt Market.


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.

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Why Monthly Recurring Revenue is so Important to Your Business

MRR

Have you ever heard of the Dollar Shave Club? The company, which provides affordable razors for a monthly fee, was so successful, that is was purchased by Unilever for $1 billion in 2016.

What does this have to do with quilt shops? Regardless of the service you’re selling, you can use Dollar Shave Club’s strategy to bring in a reliable monthly income.

This is referred as Monthly Recurring Revenue, or MRR—a standardized measure of a business’s anticipated revenue that it expects to earn each month, or income you can expect to earn on a regular basis.

A great way to get MRR is to offer a Block of the Month (BOM) program. Here’s an example of how it would work: customers would sign up to receive a $20 kit each month to help them complete a quilt. If you had 10 customers sign up at $200 per month, you could expect to bring in $2400 each year.

Why MRR Matters

According to Dan Tyre, sales director at HubSpot

“MRR is the most important metric for financial growth. There are other important metrics like growth rate, retention, average sales price, and rep productivity, but at the end of the day, the most important metric is the amount of monthly recurring revenue customers are willing to put on their credit card or pay through an invoice.”

Now that we know the importance of the MRR metric, let’s discuss the major business benefits it offers:

1. It’s Stable & Predictable

“The recurring monthly revenue model provides an easy way for your business to forecast its future cash flows and budget,” says Practice Ignition.

The traditional time-based model isn’t predictable—the only way you can look is backward.  With MRR, however, you can control and plan for your business’s future growth.

2. It Helps Your Company Budget

It’s challenging to run a successful business without a steady income stream. MRR tells you how much money is coming in each month that can be used for expenses and/or reinvestments.

3. It Promotes Better Customer Relationships

Customers on a monthly payment plan will be more loyal than those who own the equipment you sold them, suggests GreatAmerica. When you bring in recurring revenue, you have better positioning with your customers.

Instead of trying to convince them to purchase another product or service, the purchase is already built in with monthly recurring payments. That frees you up to put all your focus and energy into adding value to your services and their business, helping to foster positive, long-term relationships.

Additionally, BOM programs are positioned to help your customers succeed at quilting by getting them started and helping them plan their sewing time and budget. It also allows them to focus on one small quilt section at a time, promoting consistent progress.

Set Up Your Own Monthly Recurring Revenue System

If you’re wondering how you can set up your own MRR system, we’ve got the solution for you. Like Sew is an all-in-one cloud-based POS and Website system that offers an easy-to-manage subscriptions tool that allows you to sell and manage block of the month memberships, fulfill orders, and automatically bill your customers right from your POS system.

Everything is integrated and all in one place. Simply set up your subscription plan, then sit back and watch it bring in a stable monthly recurring revenue that helps you budget more efficiently and build better customer relationships.

An MRR is simply a better way to think about doing business, and getting your clients on board with your block of the month program will provide you with the predictability and budget necessary to scale your business.


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.

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Meet Sunshine Stitches

Store name: Sunshine Stitches Inc
Owner: Shelley Johnson
Store Location: 1490 North State Street, Belvidere, IL 61008
Phone: (815) 323-5022
Region of the Country: Midwest Central — located in Northern Illinois near Rockford, Illinois – close to the Wisconsin border
Website
: www.sunshinestitchesinc.com
Facebook: facebook.com/SunshineStitches
Instagram: www.instagram.com/sunshinestitches1

Years in business: 3 years
Types of special services offered: Retail fabric and quilting supplies, classes, sew-ins, longarm quilting services, custom/memory quilts
Number of employees: 1 full-time and 3 part-time employees

What are the store successes you’re most proud of?

Increasing groups/programs each year,  seeing our Saturday Sampler program more than doubling its size, becoming a Quilts of Valor certified shop, adding the store as a Project Linus Drop off location.

What has been the most surprising part of owning a store?

Most surprising is the business advice given to me by my customers.

Do you teach your own classes or hire teachers?

Classes are taught by me and employees.  We also make all the store samples.  Samples are then sold to customers and general public. When students attend our Sunshine Tote Bag class, they use it to receive 20% off their purchases on the first Friday and Saturday of each month.

 

 

Besides classes, what other store events do you hold?

Other events besides classes include sew-ins, lock-ins, clubs, BOMs and Saturday Sampler.

Are your in-store and online sales equal or does one outweigh the other?

Instore sales outweigh online sales – although we are working to change that.  We manage both by having one

POS system that tracks sales and inventory.

 

Where do you do the work of the business?

Paperwork and planning are done early in the morning before the store is open. Often it’s done on my kitchen table on Sunday evenings.

Do you have a hobby that isn’t sewing related?

My hobbies outside of quilting are painting and skydiving!

 

 What would your signature quilt include?

My signature quilt would be a t-shirt quilt using bright and bold colors.  This has become a favorite part of my business in that I make custom t-shirt/memory quilts for others. These quilts are a favorite to make because they are very meaningful, and I love to see the reaction of my customers when finished.

How do you get out the word about your store?

Advertising for our shop is done in a variety of ways including local publications, local quilt guild newsletters, Quilt Shop Navigator and Quilter’s Travel Companion and Facebook/Instagram.  Word of mouth from my customers is the best form of advertising overall.

 

What does a customer see first when they come into your store?

The first thing customers see when then walk in the front door is a smiling face waiting to help them while standing in front of the current Saturday Sampler Quilt.  All followed by bright and vibrant fabric options to choose from.

You’ll always find _________ in my sewing stash.

You will always find bright, fun colors in my stash.

What is your personal motto or mantra?

My mantra – “Jump in with both feet” and “You will never know if you do not try”.

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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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