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Friday, May 15, 2009

About Me Part 2-The Story of Whimsiquills

This week I am continuing the “story of Whimsiquills”. If you missed part one, here is a link to the previous post.

I actually took a break from my quilling for a couple of years. I took a full time job as a child support investigator with the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement and continued with my child support advocacy work at the same time. The job, plus three kids at home kept me pretty busy. But even though Whimsiquills was tucked away, I didn’t forget it. I finally quit my job with the state and got back to quilling.

I was buying papers from Lake City Crafts and read about the English Quilling Guild in their little newsletter “The Lake City Gazette”. I was so excited to find out that there was actually a quilling guild. So I joined and became the regional representative for the United States. Sounds pretty important, but there were only sixteen American members (spread out over 12 states) of the guild at the time. In May of 1990, I wrote an introductory letter to all sixteen members, asking them if they knew of suppliers, and whether they sold their work or taught quilling. I also sent out press releases about the English quilling guild. Through my introductory letters, I met other quillers for the first time, and we decided to stay in touch. If you are a member of the North American Quilling Guild you can actually read those early letters on the web site. Log in, go to the member’s corner and click on the newsletter archive. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page you can read the first letters I sent out to those American Quillers. I continued to write “newsletters” to American Quillers for about ten years. Eventually I called the newsletter “Quill America”, and when the North American quillers decided to form an official quilling guild in 2000, Quill America became the official newsletter. (That meant I didn’t have to write it anymore! But that’s another story)

Back in 1990, I was teaching quilling in LeeWards (now Michaels), doing craft shows, and selling my work through a few shops. When I decided that quilling was going to be my full time business, I attended several small business seminars held by the SBA and learned about networking, tax numbers, business cards, brochures, etc. all of that neat stuff. I had professional pictures taken of some of my wedding designs and had color brochures done which I could use to promote my business, boy was that an expensive proposition! My focus at that time was on selling my finished pieces although Malinda Johnston (Lake City Craft owner) really encouraged me to start selling supplies. Since I was still teaching, (and having trouble finding supplies), I decided to take Malinda’s advice and started carrying Lake City Papers.

In 1994, my husband took time off between jobs to go to framing school. We then invested in professional mat cutting and framing equipment and I learned everything he learned at framing school. My husband made custom frames for my work. We started found a frame we could market to Whimsiquills customers which was easy to use and attractive. Unfortunately after 10 years or so, the company who was making the frames for us decided we were too small for them. We were ordering 500-700 frames a year but they decided to drop us and the moulding. At one point I had my work in nine different craft malls. For those of you who might not be familiar with craft malls, you actually rent space in the store and display your work. The rent covers your space and the store staff sells your work for you and then the store sends you a check. I found these craft malls worked better for me than craft shows since the items I liked to make (framed pieces) didn’t sell real well at the shows. The time factor was another reason I gave up doing shows. Making inventory in advance, packaging, pricing etc. then a day to pack up, the time of the actual show (1 or 2 days), and then unpacking after the show. It just took too much time away from actually quilling.

I think we put the first web site up in 1996 or 1997; the web site has continued to evolve over the years. I added English quilling papers to our line, and now we carry all of Paplin’s papers, tools and kits (I design the kits for Paplin). We’ve also added all of Quilled Creations tools, and kits, as well as books from the USA, England, Australia, and the Netherlands. Today, is a way for us to reach other quillers, share our knowledge and experience, and sell a huge assortment of quilling supplies. If you haven’t visited, stop in and browse through our gallery of finished work, instruction sheets, free patterns and supplies. And here I am, thirty plus years later . . . writing a blog! Two years ago, I didn’t even know what blog was! Go figure!

1 comment:

Molly Smith said...

Very interesting! And I thought I knew everything about you already :) Thanks for the ongoing inspiration and sharing your expertise! Hugs,