Though I have never tried quilting before, I deeply admire those who are able to flawlessly combine fabrics into gorgeous colorful quilts. I also admire those ladies who set up a sewing/quilting related business…especially in Europe where the crafty market is still not as flourishing as in the US and generally still has a somewhat of a old-fashioned feel to it (with due exceptions, of course).
With this in the back of my mind, you can imagine excitement when I accidentally discovered Fluffy Sheep Quilting
For me it was a breath of fresh air and I had the urge to email Cindy and ask if she would be interested in an interview on my blog. And I was even more enthusiastic when she immediately agreed to share her experience here.
So here we go… Please give a warm welcome to lovely Cindy!
Q: How did you start Fluffy Sheep Quilting?
A: I was thinking of starting an online fabric shop for quite some time, but did not know where to start. As I was always more of a classroom learner than the adventurous “try it and see” learner, I decided to enrol in a 9 week evening class to learn the basics of starting a business. Through that class I learned what was in a business plan, what considerations need to be taken into account, etc. That evening course gave me the framework to start Fluffy Sheep Quilting. It was also a great way to network with other locals who were starting up their own businesses, giving me the opportunity to ask questions of people in the same situation.
Q: What were/are the biggest challenges in setting up a business?
A: There are significant financial challenges that need to be met either through your personal finances or through the help of investors or banks. But if you have a solid idea and a sound business plan, you can find help with a bit of effort.
Starting a business takes a huge amount of time from your home life. I work full time, have a family at home and have a house to run. Finding the time to sit down and organize my thoughts or to place fabric orders was a huge challenge. Thank goodness my family was incredibly supportive and let me be a crazy woman for those six months!
From there, the largest challenge personally was that every step I had to take held a huge learning curve for me. I knew nothing about advertising, accounting, contacting distributors, running a website, etc. Each step I had to learn. Now that I’ve been through it all once, the shop runs a bit more smoothly, thank goodness!
A: It depends. At times folks place requests for lines that they like. If I like them too, I will order them in. Beyond that I just browse the websites of each manufacturer and see what catches my eye. You will see that I like bright, bold colors with very geometric prints. They tend to stand out in the sea of batiks and browns that you normally see on the Moda or Free Spirit websites. They catch my eye.
Q: What’s your advice for someone who would like to give quilting a try? Any pattern/tool suggestion?
A: Get to a class! There are most likely guilds near you that may offer a beginner’s class or a shop that is either willing to teach you or at least put you in contact with a teacher. I tried to learn through books, but found that they did not hold the little nuances that really make a quilt pop whereas a teacher will give you these hints. I also spent a significant time reading blogs, which gave me ideas of color combinations, websites to find patterns/blocks/tutorials, etc. If you are chatty on these blogs, other quilters will get to know you quickly. They are an endless source of help and inspiration.
Q: How did you learn quilting?
A: I bought the book Material Obsession and read it cover to cover. This was the source of my first and second quilt pattern. I found that I wanted more than the book could offer, so I enrolled in Saturday morning classes at my “local” – 45 minute drive! – quilt shop. She was a traditional quilter with an endless list of hints and tips to help me get points to match, to put on a binding, etc. I think without her, I would have left quilting after my first quilt.
Q: What is it like to live in Ireland (vs the US)?
A: Although I love the US, Ireland has become home. I love the Irish people, the rugged scenery and the priorities that Irish people hold close. Family and happiness comes first, material possessions careers, etc come second. That rings perfectly well with my soul.
Thank you so much Cindy! It’s been a pleasure to have you here. Thanks for sharing your beautiful quilts. I can’t wait to see the new fabric you have in store! Hopefully soon I will make my first quilt too.