I have just finished reading a wonderful post written by my friend Gemma (aka Pretty Bobbins) on what success means to her in terms of quilting and quilting as a business. It made me start thinking really hard about my own quilting journey, and where I'd like to go with the whole blogging/quilting thing I have going. Honestly I would eventually like to pursue quilting as a full time career, and hopefully bring in enough income to make that possible (between designing patterns, teaching and eventually quilting for other people). At the moment I have one child still at home, and don't work in a paid job aside from teaching quilting a few hours a week (although that will change next year when my youngest starts school and I reenter the workforce) but I still dream of one day being able to do this quilt thing full time. I honestly have no idea whether it will actually eventuate, but I plan on working my butt off to make it happen.
When I started quilting almost three years ago, I had no clue what a massive part of my life it would become. Although I've always dabbled in creative things in the past (mainly cross stitch and sculpture), I have always described myself as a scientist rather than an artist or creative person. But since I have started quilting that perspective has changed dramatically - quilting is my happy place, my way to destress and just focus on making and creating quilts. I would most definitely describe myself as a creative person these days.
One of the biggest changes in me as a person is the self-confidence I have developed through my quilting. I am not a confident person - I am almost painfully shy, and have always had issues with self confidence. I think in part my increased confidence is because of all the wonderful friends I've made in the online quilting world, and the boost I get from positive feedback when I share my quilts. Gemma shared a list of her successes in terms of quilting, and I loved reading her list, so I thought I'd do the same here. This is not meant to be a big 'oh look how awesome I am' post, I really do have issues talking myself up (and like Gemma, this putting this out there makes me incredibly anxious). But when I think of what I've achieved, especially in the last eighteen months, I do feel like I'm succeeding in what I do. Not in terms of making money, but in terms of being happier with where I'm at in my life than ever before. I really am living the dream at the moment. I should also mention that I try really, really hard not to compare myself to other quilters in terms of success - what I consider successful is probably way, way less exciting than the big bloggers out there. It is incredibly difficult NOT to compare myself to others, and it is something I struggle with from time to time, but right now I'm feeling happy with where I'm at, and don't feel the need to measure my success compared to other more accomplished quilters :o)
* Top of the list for me is definitely being published in one of Australia's top quilting magazines - I made four quilts for publication last year, and have had a couple more commissioned in the last week. Also being asked if I would like to be profiled in an upcoming issue was pretty amazing (I was in shock for a good couple of weeks over that one, believe me!)
* Teaching opportunities at my local patchwork shop. Although I was incredibly nervous (and still get incredibly nervous before my classes) I absolutely LOVE doing it. It's definitely something I will continue to pursue, and hopefully I'll eventually get over the nerves.
* Growing my blog, and making friends all over the world through my blogging.
* Having a quilt accepted into a quilt show.
* Amazing feedback from my quilting heroes, and suggestions that I should get a longarm.
* How proud my kids are of my quilts and publications (to the point that they tell people I'm a famous quilter - I am very quick to discount this by the way!)
As far as artistic integrity goes, I don't feel like I've compromised that in anything I've done. I realise I have sponsors on my blog, but they are all shops I truly love and only approached them because of that. My income from blog sponsorship pretty much funds my fabric habit, and allows me to plan to attend events like Quiltcon next year, and the Australian Machine Quilting Festival later this year and actually have a bit of spending money (I'm still relying on the hubs to foot the vast majority of those bills!) - it doesn't help pay the mortgage. When I talk about products I love on my blog, it is because I really believe they are great and am never paid to give my opinion. I make what I want to, when I want to. I'm too honest a person to do anything else.
My five-year plan is to work outside the home and keep up with what I'm doing quilt-wise at the moment, save up money and buy a longarm so that I can quilt my own quilts and quilt for customers. I think I have the ability and talent to do this, mostly because some of my biggest quilty heros have told me in no uncertain terms that they think I can. So between that, teaching and designing and hopefully selling patterns, I still dream that this quilting thing will become a full time job for me :o)
I don't think I've ever talked so much about me on my blog before, and probably won't again ;o) I'm hoping to be back in the next few days with a quilty finish, so regular programming with recommence then :o) I would love to hear what your thoughts are on quilting as a business, and whether I'm alone in this crazy ambition!