We are finally here! After all the introduction and beginning stuff, we are finally to the middle portion of this series “Getting Started”. At this point, you might be all ready to go. You have your machine, your business plan and your operational plan…now you just need to open for business. But the question is, “Are you ready to quilt for customers?
That just so happens to be the question that I am going to tackle in today’s blog post. It is also a question that I am asked a lot. My hope is that this post will help you decide when you are ready to start quilting for customers.
It seems that some quilters think that there is a special milestone that you must hit before you put out the open for business sign. But it’s not as cut-and-dried as that, it really just depends on the person.
For me, I decided that I was ready once I had mastered a few allover designs. If I remember correctly, the designs were swirls, stars and loops….nothing too special. I quilted a piece of fabric with the three designs and signed up to be a vendor at a local quilt show. It is too funny when I remember that show. All I had was my business cards and my quilted sample. Needless to say, I had a lot of extra room in that booth.
Being ready to quilt for customers doesn’t mean that you have to be a master quilter. You just need to feel comfortable doing the designs that you are offering. If you can quilt 3 different designs well, then only offer those.
Before you take your first customer quilt:
Have quilted samples.
Your potential customers are going to want to see that you can actually quilt the designs that you are offering. It’s best to have them quilted on a quilt (if possible) not just a piece of fabric, seeing the designs on a quilt will help your customer imagine how it would look on their quilt.
Know your limits:
When I started out, I was so eager to get a customer that I am pretty sure I would have said I could have quilted any design that they wanted. If you know you can’t do custom feathers, then don’t tell them that you can. By signing yourself up for quilting that you can’t do, you are setting yourself up for stress and let-down. You may lose a customer by not knowing how to quilt a feather, but you will lost a lot more if you mess up someone’s quilt!
Remember, you are always practicing:
I was once at a trunk show for Linda Taylor and someone asked her when she knew that she was done practicing and ready to take customer quilts. She quickly replied, “I will let you know when I get to that point.” You will always be practicing and learning new designs. You can offer new designs as you learn them.
Some questions to ask yourself:
Can I load a quilt (or baste a quilt) easily and am I comfortable with the machine and the quilting process?
Have I finished a few quilts for myself and/or friends with the quilting designs that I am offering?
If you can say yes to both of those questions, then I think you could be ready to start quilting for others. If you aren’t quite sure if you are ready, then I would keep on practicing. In my opinion, the best way to practice is to quilt charity quilts. There are so many great charities that are in need of machine quilters! Not only will you get to practice on actual quilt tops, you usually have the ability to pick the designs that you want to quilt. It’s a win/win!
So what do you think? Are you ready to take the leap into quilting-for-hire?
I am going to be back next week with marketing consultant Heather Grant, we are going to be talking about how to market yourself to potential customers. And the week after that is the biggie, how to know what to charge your customers. It’s going to be information packed for sure!