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Gift ideas for crafters

Christmas is less than a week away, but there is still time to get that last-minute gift for the crafter in your life (while not steering too far away from your budget).

  1. Hot glue gun: the crafter’s tool of choice. Stock up on glue sticks and glue gun accessories like tweezers and a bag to store your gift in. You can never have too many!
  2. Knitting kit: so your crafting friend can knit on-the-go. Kits come in accessible boxes and include almost anything you’d need to complete a pattern.
  3. Washi tape: to scrapbook or spice-up plain gift wrap. Throw in some mod podge, another crafter must-have, to save the creative in your life a trip to the craft store.
  4. Doodling notebook: or adult coloring book, depending on what your friend prefers! Keep all those wonderful ideas in one place or buy Creative Doodling and Beyond, a book that provides doodling inspiration.
  5. Craft storage: to inspire any crafter when it comes time for spring cleaning. Make it a package by also including a tote and cutting mat.
  6. Jars: Mason jars have more uses than can be typed; feel free to decorate them before to make the gift even more special.
  7. Gift card to art class or store: who doesn’t love free money! Enough said.
  8. Crafter’s book: look into staples like Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts, or purchase a craft-specific book for knitting, macrame, and more. The list is limitless!
  9. Wall decor: or wall art that would look good in a crafter’s studio. Whether it is something you make on canvas, a poster, or vinyl you purchased, a crafter is sure to showcase your thoughtfulness.
  10. Magazine subscription to American Quilt Retailer: the gift that keeps on giving!

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 Resolutions Matter

New Years resolutions can quickly become fruitless; why make a change on January 1 when you can make a change any day of the year? But, somehow, New Years resolutions are still around.

To some, it is the act of reflection that drives them to create a goal. Looking back at the year can tell us where we went wrong, where we went right, and where we got stuck in a rut. Reflection provides the opportunity to learn from the past and invest in a better self.

To others, it is a renewed attitude. The holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. But often it becomes a time of body shaming (even though that pie felt so right in the moment), observations of selfishness (when so much money could go to better causes), and a reminder of all of those around us who will spend their holiday alone.

But a resolution is a great way to tackle one aspect of your life and transform it. Tired of feeling heavy? Buy a gym membership. Afraid to check your bank account? Donate money to charities in a friend’s name instead of buying them a gift. Feeling guilty that you haven’t done enough? Volunteer at a homeless shelter throughout the year.

Resolution

According to Psychology Today, these resolutions are what our brain needs. Goals provide direction and purpose. This leads to progress, which in turn creates happiness. And this happiness enables us to connect to people around us, providing a more fulfilling life.

So, maybe your plans to travel to Europe didn’t pan out this year. But making a new resolution can provide renewed positivity into your life.

New Year’s resolutions are still around for a reason. Let’s keep that tradition alive by setting goals to not only inspire others, but re-inspire ourselves.


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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Create your online presence

Now that Black Friday, Small-Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday have all come to a close, you can take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for surviving the busiest week for retail stores every where.

And as you prepare for the continuing busy holiday schedule, one thing to keep in mind is your online presence.

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Developing an online presence can be intimidating; especially if your business has never had one. But one sure way to ensure you are getting the most success during the holiday season is ensuring your website and social media are as on-point as your store.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • Plan ahead. Have a goal and outline for what you want your website to look like. Think of it as how you plan your store; your business’s website should be clean, welcoming, and easy to manage. Try to follow the three-click rule, meaning you shouldn’t have to click more than three times for customers to find the information they need.
  • Write. Write your own message but keep it short and simple. Feel free to use calls to action and advertise what sales you have going on. Make sure you tell customers what you can do for them even if you don’t have an online shopping option.
  • Seek help. Designing a website isn’t easy, but it is so important in today’s industry, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. The most cost effective way to build a website is through a website builder rather than hiring a designer. Check out this article for an in-depth review on which website hosts are the best for you.
  • Keep it professional. Make sure your website is heavy on visual content; but most importantly, make sure you’re happy with the product! Take your time building the website and try to keep your online brand as consistent as the physical store.
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Another important tip is to test your website on a variety of platforms. Ideally, your website should be transferable to all three. 

I realize the holiday season isn’t the best time to make a website, but with the new year comes new goals. If you already have a website, now is the perfect time to freshen it up! Creatives love to create, think of working on your website as another outlet for your creativity.


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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AQR Releases Digital Issue

Have you heard the news? American Quilt Retailer is excited to announce the special digital issue is available for download at our website! And did we mention it’s free?

In this issue you can read all about the International Quilt Market and get bonus’s compared to our print issue, including links to other articles. Just click on the links to dig deeper into your favorite pieces and ideas.

Articles include a synopsis of the Schoolhouse Series presented by Heidi Kaisand and Jody Sanders, product snapchats of favorites found at the market, and who’s who at the market (remember, it’s never too late to start preparing for next year)!

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Heidi Kaisand (left) and Jody Sanders (right) present at their Schoolhouse Series at the International Quilt Market. 

The 50-page issue highlights more than the market in Houston, but includes advice on increasing foot traffic and this year’s quilting industry results. But don’t just take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

The special digital issue is in addition to the regular print magazine, so take advantage of this opportunity! What better way to recommend our magazine to fellow quilt retailers than by referring them to our free issue?

Reading this issue is the next best thing to attending the market, so what are you waiting for? Check out our digital issue while you have the time before the busy holiday 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.

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FreeSpirit Partners with Morris & Co.

William Morris’s legacy lives on thanks to a partnership with FreeSpirit and Morris & Company.

FreeSpirit just released the Kelmscott and Merton lines designed from the archives of The Original Morris & Company. The FreeSpirit line is the most authentic and only place to get designs as close to the Morris style.

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William Morris was born in England in 1834 and was most known as a poet during his lifetime. Posthumous Morris is most known for his design work and influence on pattern through both textiles and wallpaper.

Morris’s style includes influence from nature and has inspired designers for the past 120 years. The possibilities of using this traditional line of patterns in contemporary quilts has the AQR team excited to try them out.

Two designers also excited to try this line are Justin Hancock, third generation quilter of Hancock’s of Paducah, and Pokey Bolton, founder and CEO of Crafting A Life.

“I have such an appreciation for William Morris as both an artist and fabric printer,” Bolton said.

And agreeing with California-based Bolton is Hancock who owns a quilt shop halfway across the country in Kentucky.

“William Morris clearly tapped into the intersection of art and artisanship and I have long been a fan,” Hancock said.

FreeSpirit Fabrics started in 2000 with a goal of being a catalyst in the quilting industry by providing inspiring fabrics with character. Visit their website to peruse their lookbooks, patterns, and designs. You can also read more about Morris by visiting AQR’s first-ever digital issue.


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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Winter Window Display

Continuing the theme of Heidi’s iDiscover chat—scheduled for next week on the topic of store design—is the often-overlooked window display. Believe it or not, window displays are still a vital element to retail merchandising. Outlined are tips to get you into the holiday spirit to spice up your window display; and maybe even attract some new customers during your town’s annual holiday festival.

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This window display does a great job at varying height and keeping the product featured at a minimum. Plus, the simple design reflects the company’s brand.

 

  1. Plan one month in advance. Many winter open houses are already less than one month away, but no worries, the sooner you start planning the easier (and more polished) your window display will look. This means sketching your idea, gathering supplies, and having a plan B if your craft doesn’t exactly pan out.
  2. Clean your window before you begin. Just because you don’t think anyone else will notice those dead flies sitting in the sill doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean your window! I know taking the old display down and storing it for next year is  a daunting task, but a clean window is the foundation for a stunning display.
  3. Have a focal piece. Preferably one of your more-pricey products, but try to keep the number of products in your display to a minimum. Be sure this piece is kept at eye level to grab your customers’ attention.
  4. Layer. Multiple layers of height will add more to your display than you realize, even if your design-style is simple and sleek. And don’t focus on blocking the view into your store, this just gives customers a peek into what they’re missing out on.
  5. Forget the “Sale Sale Sale!” signs. One sign should be plenty to get your sale across. Instead, focus on being consistent with your theme. Plus, the more crafting you get to do, the more fun you’ll have getting this project out of the way. Maybe a customer will even ask how created what you did (aka the ultimate compliment for a crafter)!
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The time spent on this bold window display is evident; don’t be afraid to go big—just start planning now.

The holidays provide plenty of inspiration for what to include in your display, the hard part is deciding on how to narrow that down. Don’t be afraid to be daring; this is your business’s chance to show off just how awesome you really are! Think of your store’s window as the pitch to get customers inside.


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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iDiscover Chats

Tune in to the Creativation show on Facebook on Wednesday, November 15 from 2:00-2:15 CST to listen to an inspiring talk given by American Quilt Retailer and Hen and Chicks Studio owner Heidi Kaisand.

The topic will be on creative store design tips, so be sure to schedule this into your day as the video will be broadcast live. Also be sure to join the Facebook page  before this time to make sure you have full access to everything the page has to offer.

Creativation is hosted by the Association for Creative Industries. AFCI is a trade association for creative arts and provides a platform for creative arts professionals to connect and learn from one another.

Creativation

AFCI started in 2004 when two leading crafts associations decided to merge. Since then the association has been dedicated to keeping up with the evolving craft world in order to stay up to date with how ideas are spread as well as encourage creative souls to succeed.

The non-profit is based out of New Jersey and their mission is to “unify, connect, represent and support the growth of the global creative community. We serve members who provide products, services and marketplaces which entertain, educate and instruct and above all inspire consumers.”

AFCI

Past iDiscover chats include “The Future of Storytelling,” by Heather Roach Heuman of Sweet Tea Social Marketing and “Discover the New Generosity Paradigm” by Leann Pressly of Stitchcraft Marketing. Click here to view a complete list of past iDiscover chats.

Outside of their shows, AFCI is also hosting a Creativation convention in January in Phoenix, Arizona, and AFCI even has a philanthropic arm to their non-profit. AQR is excited to contribute to this association and hope you can all tune in to find out how to best style and design your store.


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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Join AQR at the Schoolhouse Series

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 7.48.30 PMIf you’ve been following us on Facebook (which we hope you have!) then you know all about how we’ve been gearing up for the International Fall Quilt Market.

This year we’re excited to offer a forum called the Schoolhouse Series the day before the Market opens on October 27. This fun-filled eight hours includes three different classes and an opportunity to spend time with manufacturers, retailers, and publishers to discuss the latest books, products, and techniques.

Joining Heidi Kaisand, editor of AQR, will be editor of renowned magazine American Patchwork and Quilting Jody Sanders. You can find both of them at the Market at booth 1442, or at the first of the classes offered through their Schoolhouse Series where they offer insight on the industry’s must-have trends.Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 8.20.47 PM

Other classes where you can find Kaisand and Sanders include 15 marketing tips in 30 minutes where they share techniques to push your retail business to the next level, as well as You’re Hired! You’re Fired! A class with guest Roseann Kermes all about managing employees.

Also at the Fall Market will be the newest edition to the team! AQR is ecstatic to have Kristi Loeffelholz Edwards join the team as business-to-business media director. Loeffelholz has extensive design, publishing, and ecommerce experience in Fons and Porter and previously served as Vice President/General Manager of F+W Media. Loeffelholz also joins us from American Patchwork and Quilting.

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If this hasn’t been enough to convince you to come to Houston, hopefully our Blue Bag program will. We’re driving all the way from Iowa to Texas with 400 bags stuffed with goodies to give away during our Schoolhouse Series, and at our booth. But once we’re out, we’re out! Register today to secure your Blue Bag (and visit our Facebook page to get a sneak peak of what’s inside)!

Don’t miss the opportunity to meet the people behind some of your favorite craft magazines. Join in the fun at both the Schoolhouse Series and the International Fall Quilt Market this weekend.


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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Eye of the Beholder Joins AQR in Houston

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Margaret Brewster Willingham helps a customer at one of her “Eye of the Beholder” workshops at their shop in Colorado.

American Quilt Retailer is excited to team up with Eye of the Beholder again at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas! We last partnered with owner of Eye of the Beholder, Margaret Brewster Willingham, at the Meet Me In St. Louis quilt show back in July.

Willingham was surrounded by family heirlooms growing up – furniture, china, linens, and quilts we’re all inspirations for hope in the future and expressing oneself creatively.  So it’s no wonder that Willingham uses these inspirations today to design appliqué and reverse appliqué to help quilt-makers everywhere add elegance to their lives.

Eye of the Beholder patterns include complete instructions, but feel free to attend one of her workshops if you’re in the Colorado area, or visit her website to watch a tutorial on pattern technique.

Also featured on the website are online shopping options, including patterns to download and an option to request quilts or patterns made specifically for you.

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One of the featured Eye of the Beholder quilters.

Plus, if you’ve worked with an Eye of the Beholder product, you have the opportunity to be featured on their website or Facebook page! Eye of the Beholder loves to see how you played with color and design.

While you’re at the Facebook page, take the time to follow Eye of the Beholder on Instagram and Pinterest, and keep up to date by reading their blog.


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 visit the Indygo Junction Facebook page while you’re there, too.

Eye of the beholder

 

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Fabriflair—The Fabric Sensation for Your Shop

Moda-French General-Ville de Fleurie-IJFP205-Centerpiece StarWe sat down with the founder of Indygo Junction, Amy Barickman to hear the Fabriflair story.

Looking for a fun new product to sell in your shop? Fabriflair is the latest product release from Indygo Junction, perfectly poised to help you display and sell fabric, sell tools, teach classes for all ages and stages of sewists and, most importantly, start conversations with your customers.

Indygo Junction first introduced the Fabriflair matboard template kits a little over a year ago. This method was based on paper piecing and used their hand stitched technique. The kits have been very popular and they saw the need for a machine sewn version. Now, with their new Fabriflair stabilizer and pattern line you can choose to sew hand or machine.Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 9.05.18 AM

The stabilizer is packaged in a 10” x 10” format and we also offer it in 20” wide, 10 yard bolts. The material is designed to be thick enough for our Fabriflair designs to hold their shape but it is also flexible which allows for machine sewing.  Also included is a pressing sheet in each package plus an ornament pattern to get customers started.

Watch the video below to explore Indygo Junction’s full line of patterns, see the samples they have made, and learn tips and techniques as well as marketing ideas for your store.

Precut Fabric

IMG_9967This product line offers a fun and easy opportunity to grow sales in your store as well as your community. The entire line is ideal for precuts and fat quarters. All of the patterns can be made with 10” squares.

This makes it a quick and easy way to showcase new fabric lines allowing for customization for your shop’s space and style. The Centerpiece Star, for example, has 60 sides and can display an entire line.

Fabriflair is for all ages and stages of quilters and sewers, from kids to professional FullSizeRenderquilters this product offers makers impressive results for a small investment of time. In an hour you can make the single arm Wall Art Star in one of your new lines. Isn’t this picture of Amy’s niece holding the stars that she made with her mom precious?

Not only can you create with unique fabrics, but you can also use beads, buttons, and all sorts of notions to add a personal pizazz to your finished look. Check out these Tree Toppers & Ornaments Indygo Junction made and decorated with beading pins!

Fabriflair is a fabric amusement! It is a conversation starter at the register and is ideal for classes or demonstrating at events. It can also be a project to travel with that can be sewn by hand at retreat gatherings or sewing circles.

Indygo Junction loves sharing information to help you educate and inspire your customers to try Fabriflair. Through their newsletter and blog, they share assets for you to use, such as sample photos and gifs for Facebook and Instagram.

Here are some display ideas from the Fabriflair Sew Stars Event Amy did last week at Prairie Point Quilt Shop in Lenexa, Kansas.

Check out their new campaign below, where Amy discusses the Sew Stars for Texas campaign for hurricane relief. Note that the campaign has expanded beyond Texas to include victims of Irma and Maria as well as Hurricane Harvey.

Indygo Junction also now offers free shipping on all pattern orders over $100 for shops! Visit IndygoJunction.com to see all their Fabriflair products as well as new releases of apparel patterns featuring quilt shop cottons.


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 visit the Indygo Junction Facebook page while you’re there, too.