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!
Fantastic post! I can't wait to be roomies at quiltcon! So glad to be sharing this crazy, creative, quilty journey with you xxx ps. You definitely have the talent!!!! Live the dream girl!!
I expect it won't be taking you five years and your kids are right you know.
You are super talented and you make some of my favorite quilts. You absolutely have what it takes! We'll be cheering you along!!
Jess, I truly enjoy reading your post. I admire the truthfulness and your abillity to speak about yourself and your hopes and dreams so candidly. You definitely have a good start to get where you want to be and wish you all the best!
I too, would love to do longarm quilting, the obstacle for me is different though, we live different places for now and until we settle, I don't see it happening...
I will certainely follow your journey. Best of luck!
I found you through Jemma at Pretty Bobbins. No you are not alone in wanting to start a business. Your post has got me thinking and it obviously came from the heart - not sure yet what I'm thinking - I;ll have to let it mature a bit. I've had a look at your quilts which are great and your list of achievements so far is very impressive particularly the magazines. It looks as if you are well on your way.
Sounds like an amazing plan! And you are definitely talented - and will make a success of it!
So excited you're making the trek for quiltcon too! It is sure to be a knock out event with how many awesome bloggers are going to be there. I relate so much to everything you said. Saving up for a long arm is on my list as well, though it's not something I see happening within 5 years. le sigh.
I find it almost totally unbelievable that you have only been quilting for three years. You are a true artist in what you make, and I love following your blog because of that. I can't wait to meet you at QuiltCon! xxx
First of all, to be clear, you are awesome in no uncertain terms. Secondly, unless the economy goes to pot again, I don't think it will take you that long. You've got tons of natural ability, and practice goes up REALLY quickly in you. I wish I could see you at QuiltCon (darn school play).
You are just wonderful, and you've been a friend and an inspiration to me since the beginning. You can DEFINITELY do this! I know exactly how you feel and I battle out the "business" aspect in my mind every day.
Jess, you are a wonderful quilter and you have always come across as a very sweet person on top of that. I wish for you that your dreams will come true and will eventually be able to quilt full time.
What? You say you are not a famous quilter??? To me you are ! Your work is AWESOME!!!
I envy you your plan, especially as I know you can do it!! xxxx
Good for you for being able to see what you want, you're denfinitely on the way!!!
What you accomplish on your domestic machine is unbelievable - I don't know if the quilting world is ready for you with a long arm ;)
It still amazes me when I think about what quilting has brought into my life, and it makes me feel less like a nutter and more like a member of a beautiful community when I hear others express similar sentiments :)
Can't wait to see where you go!
Rosemary B here:
Oh my goodness I enjoyed reading this Jess. It came right from your heart. I know it.
We are all different, we all have weak points but they are strengthened by friends. Like You💜💛
I am so proud to know you.
I think you have a good plan set in front of you and your enthusiasm is infectious!
I am so excited for you.
Please, never pressure yourself, then it becomes drudgery. I know you are going to bust out and we will be behind you all the way
I think you should carve out more room for thoughtful posts like this! Not at all to say that the rest of your content isn't thoughtful, but as someone who has often wondered, "What if..?" herself, I am always intrigued by what's going on in the minds of friends whose work I place on a (very high) pedestal, I might add. I think my problem (one of many, to be fair), is that I don't quite know or understand the numbers ($) of "making it," let alone the odds (there is SO much talent out there, it's ridiculous and intimidating all at once). So I commend you for having the confidence (and courage!) to start thinking through your future. Cheers to potential ripple effects ;)
Very difficult post to write, I'm thinking! It is hard to put yourself out there - by putting it out there, we will all be watching and cheering you on! When you teach classes, remember that everyone there is there because you have knowledge that they don't and they want to get it from you!!! They aren't there to judge you, they are just happy to be there. About a longarm, I love my Innova that I've had for 5.5 years and highly recommend it, but do check out all the yahoo groups for all the longarms you are considering...read about the problems folks have and how the company responds to those problems. Enjoy the ride and have fun being creative!!!
There I was thinking you were miss confidence as you seem to have the confidence to tackle the most amazing quilting! Everyone has their strengths and challenges but you are well on your way to where you want to go - I believe you can fulfill your dream so go for it anything less would be wasteful of your talent.ã
Great post Jess! It is so awesome that you are teaching now and yay for getting a profile feature and more commissions! Taking over the world one quilt at a time!
First - Thank you for turning me on to Sew Me a Song. I put them on my blog's bi-yearly list; "Great online and brick mortar stores for great sales and deals. Part 2 just posted.
Secondly - I can relate to yours and Gemma's post, about where to take my blog and business. I've been blogging for just about a year, but have been writing for a long time, and have been published in another genre.
I've been quilting for over 20 years, and am about 20 or 25 years older than you and Gemma. We are empty nesters and live in the U.S.
Fortunately I have a pt job which helps with income.
Hopefully the three of us can stay in touch and support each other through this next step of our journeys.
All The Best,
Wonderful post! I've always struggled with self-confidence and shyness too. It is a tough hurdle, but you have done such a great job. Your list of accomplishments is really impressive. You are so amazingly talented, I have no doubt you will succeed with your goals!
Thanks for a great post - you can definitely achieve your goals and I don't think it's going to take you the whole five years, either!
behind you all the way Jess. Your quilting is awesome, but the thing I love most is your creativity and the way you create your own quilts with your own unique touch.
I'm cheering you on!
I am so glad that you started quilting and we get to see all of the beautiful things that you make. And your quilting is amazing, you are going to be totally unstoppable with a long arm!
I enjoyed reading your post and am glad you shared. Wishing you the best with your long range plans. It's nice to know other shy people can pull off the teaching thing. I LOVE designing my patterns but am very much a behind the scenes kind of person so the notion of teaching kind of terrifies me.. Hope you do make it to QuiltCon so we can meet in person.
I think you're kids are missing the word 'in' ;o)
J/K, you can totally do this, just take it slowly and steadily, and set yourself small goals to build up to the bigger goal, then you won't feel dispirited if life throws a roadblock at you at any point along the way. You will already have achieved a ton of things to get you to your end point, even if a deviation is required :o)
great post. You are one of the most inspirational people out there for me. You have a great eye for design and fabric placement and your quilting is amazeballs. Look what you have achieved in 3 years!
Having a plan is brilliant and Katy ^^ is right about small attainable goals. The teaching will get easier the more you do (having been a lecturer for the past three years, believe me about this) - the key thing is that your students believe in you and that means being your authentic self (too hippy dippy?)
Oh I so understand this post. I have quilting career plans too and many times the current situation drives me batty. I have so many ideas and things I want to get going on but not the time. I know it will come eventually but still. Good luck with your plans.
This is a beautiful post Jess, well done for writing it and for all of your wonderful achievements so far!
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