Yesterday I returned home from the Creative Arts Business Summit just outside of Washington DC. This was an amazing group of women who earn their living in the quilt industry — shop owners, longarmers, pattern designers, pattern testers, notion salespeople, and more.
One of the themes of the 3 day conference was “collaboration.” We soon realized that each pattern designer or quilt shop owner or longarmer has something different to offer. We are stronger working together than apart.
A great example of this philosophy is Shop Hops. Many would wonder why quilt shops in a geographic area would work together and promote each other. Yet each shop has different lines of fabrics and sells different patterns. A shop focusing on batiks is not really in competition with a modern quilt shop or a shop that sells mainly Americana fabric, yet shop hops get new customers exploring each location. As we know, many of these shoppers do not leave empty-handed! Working together increases the size of the quilting pie, rather than focusing on just increasing your small slice. More great patterns lead to more fabric sales, which leads to a greater demand for for batting and binding, which leads to more work for longarmers. When projects are finished, quilters begin the process again and everyone benefits.
Quilting’s roots is in collaboration. Women gathered around frames to create finished quilts for their friends and family. Not only did these “many hands make light work,” but it also nourished women’s souls. This philosophy excites me and will ultimately benefit all of us in the quilting world.