Sunday, May 16, 2010

Got Quilts?????

I check Twitter and there she is again - VaBeachQuilter (also known as Kim) tweeting a new item, retweeting someone's item, introducing a new shop or artisan.  Her tweets come several times a day and I wonder how she manages to do this on top of her running a guild on Artfire (Shops with Less Than 10 Sales), managing two blogs, running two online shops and couple of business pages on Facebook.

I wonder if she saw this coming when she started quilting?

A little over ten years ago, Kim never thought she would be immersed in the world of machine quilting let alone marketing and promoting a business on the world wide web.  She had been happily cross-stitching when she succumbed to her aunt's proddings to try quilting.  Since then, things were never quite the way they used to be.

Her initial foray into this craft was via a beginner's paper-piecing class. Kim marvels at how she was able to make quilted pieces without even knowing what a quarter inch seam was done.  She paper-pieced for about three years and then took another class that taught her more techniques, along the way magically learning how do a quarter inch seam.  Learning  new techniques was like switching a bike with training wheels for a big, bad bike -- Kim just vroomed away.

A three year stint (haven't you noticed that her significant number for quilting is 3?) in a quilt shop helped her hone her skills further and soon, the quaint little hobby managed to invade her bedroom closet, the hallway closet, sewing room and even spaces in her house that she never knew existed.  It was then that Kim realized she had to do something.

It was at that point that she started selling her creations at craft shows, her quilts attracting buyers of every age. In January of 2009, Kim thought of trying the world of online selling and she set up her first shop on Etsy. This was followed by another shop on Artfire which she set up in April of the same year.  Other online shops were set up in quick succession on Made It Myself, eCrater, Zibbet and Funky Finds but her Artfire shop is by far the most popular and most successful among them.

Her talent and skill as a quilter plus her insistence on only producing the finest handmade work,  have attracted the attention of celebrities such as MLB players BJ and Austin Upton of the Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks, respectively.  The brothers commissioned Kim to make a quilt for their parents and grandmother. Michael Cuddyer of the Minnesota Twins so loved the quilt Kim made for his baby that he asked her to make one for his parents too. A duo quilt she made for Yvonne Upton (BJ and Austin's mom) which showcased the teams her two sons played in earned a mention in an article by Seth Livingstone of the USA Today Sports Edition.

Over the years, her palette has changed from the country/primitive colors she so loves to include vibrant, bright colors and patterns.  She has also expanded her product line to include novelties and other items that she would never have thought of making before.  Her Artfire studio is chock-full of a variety of items from wallets, to notekeepers, cozys, quilted napkins and placemats, pieces for babies and toddlers, pillowcases, aprons and even bagel and bread warmers!  She has also started a new line of applique cats and farm animals and fruit applique table runners and placemats (applique is a new addiction for Kim!) There is a section that showcases items with an NFL theme and you can browse this section to see if she has anything that has your favourite team on it.  If she doesn't, you can always have it custom ordered - yes, she accepts custom orders!

While not a full time job, Kim says her earnings from selling online have enabled her to take her family on short trips and allowed her to give them a special Christmas last year.  On most days, she spends 8-10 hours sewing - and that is on top of the 2 -3 hours she spends marketing and promoting and doing other online work. Evenings find her busy doing the detailed and precise handwork necessary to finish her pieces.  She's enjoying herself so much that she says she doesn't see this as a job but more of a fun way to let her creative side out.

For those of you who would like to see Kim's pieces, she will be participating at the Virginia Beach Christmas Market during the 2010 Thanksgiving week-end.  It's a pretty big event and over a thousand shoppers are expected over the three-day period it runs.  If you can't make it there, or are eager to see her work, head on over to Kim's Artfire studio, VaBeachQuilter.

Ooops - there goes another tweet from Kim. I am amazed.  Where does she get the energy?????

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