I recieve many emails, sometimes daily, asking me about the 'Business of Quilting'... Here are my thoughts, Updated April 18, 2014
The Business of Quilting Q&A
QUESTION - I have some ideas for a fabric line, how do I get them published (or a variation of that question as I had several)
My Thoughts on getting a Quilt fabric line published.... My main observation for fabric in the quilt industry is that the designs are in 3 categories-
1- In House Fabric – This is fabric designed by staff or contract textile designer. The fabric company name or a 'brand' name (like 3 Sisters) is used for those fabric lines
2- Fabric Designed 'with' an established quilt designer – There are now LOTS of lines designed with quilt designers. The designer is almost always someone who will design and publish quilts with their fabric in the magazines, in their books and in their pattern lines. They will also promote it when they teach. The designer has usually been known in the industry for a while before the fabric line comes out.
3- Licensed Fabric designs from artists in other fields - Painters, graphic artists, celebrities, people who illustrate books...etc. They have a 'name' in another area.... like.. mmm... lets say... Marie Osmond or Olivia the Pig! The fabric company is betting you see the name or designs and connect to it in some way. You will recognize it and want some!
I think that most fabric designed by quilt designers happens after the designer has been established with quilts published in magazines, books and self published patterns. Or they my be out on the teaching circuit getting their name known to the quilters, guilds and quilt shops who will then purchase this fabric.
**So how do you design fabric if you want to give it a try?
First you actually have to DRAW something! Not just have ideas... you need to actually do the work. See how it feels.. make it happen. Then you can have some printed on spoonflower to have your fabric design on cotton.. that is a way to let you know if what you are doing seems 'right'
After you have a portfolio of a LOT OF DESIGN drawings... and I mean A LOT ... you will need to start contacting fabric companies to try and make an appointment with them at the trade show or at their offices.
Most likely they will want to see your portfolio first to see if it fits their company style, to be sure they don't already have something similar published or being published, to see what kind of work you do. This saves both of you time and money. Don't give up if one is not interested, just keep contacting companies with your portfolio.
QUESTION - How do I Get a Quilt design published.
I think the 2 quickest ways to have your first quilt published are
2-with a magazine.
With both options you must first make the quilt and write the pattern. No other way around it. So if you want something published and have NOT done this yet.. back away from the computer and get to work! NOTHING and I mean NOTHING happens if you have not made a quilt and written the pattern.
** For self published you have the additional tasks of editing the pattern 500 times, formatting it, cover photography, pattern layout, interior graphics, printing, packing and marketing it. oh.. and you'll need a website too.
** For the magazines get all the correct magazine submission information off their website. Then send in photos for consideration (notice.. I said PHOTOS.. for the first time I would do more than one quilt so they have options). You won't need to send the directions until the quilt is accepted, but you might as well practice writing them!
QUESTION - How do I own my own dream quilt shop.
I am not an expert on this... but I do own a quilt shop online, I have had a staff of 35, I've done HR work, and I have run a small business for 16+ yrs ... so here are my thoughts...
1-Have you EVER worked retail? Have you worked in a quilt shop? Yes.. GREAT you then KNOW what it's like.. NO??? Go work in a store now.. they are not hiring? Then work for free. You MUST know if you even LIKE working retail! It's not for everyone.
2-Have you ever had employees (children do NOT count)... yes? Then you know what it means to be a leader, have staff, worry and chat and talk with them, how to comply with all the laws associated with employees, have taxes just right, pay the rent, make enough income to hand out paychecks.. etc.
Never had employees? Then I once again suggest you find some sort of job where you can try your hand at having some staff. Also take management training courses... it's an art and not everyone is a good leader (oh... you've WORKED for those people haven't you? You don't want to BE those people!) If you find out you hate being in charge like that.. you'll either need to hire a manager for your store or look at other options. It's no fun to go into your dream and discover it's really a nightmare.
3-Next thing is to go to the quilt trade show and take all the business classes they offer. Get involved now before you spend any more $$ to see if it is really what you want to do.
QUESTION - Will you be my Mentor?
This is such a flattering request that I get on a regular basis from lovely people who want me to help them. But it's impossible. I don't offer any business workshops and being a mentor is not something you ask a person to be who you have never met before.
This is an EXCELLENT article on Mentors, how you find one, and what that REALLY means. It's not asking a stranger to give you help for free.. why would they do that? Mentors are a relationship.
Oh I thought you'd never ask.. yes i have some FURTHER Thoughts...
When I was a young woman working as a computer programmer I worked for a small consulting company. Only 12 employees. The 2 men that owned the business were AWESOME as they taught me so much.
One thing Murray always advised was to 'keep your day job'. Meaning.. try out what you want to do while you have a job that pays your bills. Try out your dream WHILE working before going at it full time. You want to be sure you not only like it, but feel it might actually work for you to support you and your family.
When I started my business.. I had already worked 4 years doing quilting as a evening and weekend job. I taught, did customer quilts, did models for fabric companies, did models for quilt shops. When I started my pattern business I took 6 months off work to give it a try.
But after 6 months I went back to work full time in a busy computer field and I STILL did my quilt business. I did this for almost 2 MORE years as a 2nd job.... Even going to the trade show and starting up my pattern business. It was hard work but it showed ME that I loved doing it so much that I'd work overtime on it. I'd work for little pay. I'd work when I was tired. It showed me it could bring in money... which meant when I went full time I felt it could be a full time job.
So your first assignment is to actually DO what you want to be doing, even if it's for free. Keep your day job and do your 2nd job in the evenings.. on the weekends... but you can't just THINK about it. You have to draw, make, write and see what happens.
You might want to join the Quilt Designers list at yahoo. This group ebs and flows in how active it is and there is a ton of information in the archives. CLICK HERE
I Highly recommend that you check out all the business info from Quilts Inc, the trade show organizer. On the vendor category you will find fabric companies, notions companies and the distributors listed.
This is a fantastic book, buy it
Also listen to the shows from Monica Lee at Smart Creative Woman. And I highly recommend her workshop 'Smart Creative Style' for figuring out your business style! I took and it and it's just an amazing workshop to do.
Again if you have a very SPECIFIC question email me
Good luck, tell me how it goes!
ps.... hope you enjoyed the Caribbean Cruise pics!
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