Shoot for the Moon #42 – a lady with a pattern

I had a call from a lady last week who wrote a pattern and wanted to know how to get into the business. She was referred to me by Capital Quilts in the DC area.  We spoke on the phone and I invited her to my studio and spent an hour or so and answered an array of questions. It really made me think about when I first started writing patterns. It was such a long time ago that I wrote the instructions for my Prairie Point stocking. I gave her all my suppliers and many tips and hints. I couldn’t help but think of what a LONG road this gal will have to travel to make her pattern into a profitable business. I was just glad I was sitting in my seat and not hers.

Would I do it all again knowing how much needs to be invested in time, energy, creativity and money? I am not really sure I would. It is so much work, however I am very proud and appreciative of what we have built.  I think I have said back in some very early posts of this blog that someday this series on “Shoot for the Moon” might become a book on starting  a quilt pattern business. I think that just may happen. It would have been so valuable to have had a small hand guide rather than blazing my own path.  However on the flip side I have started  so many new concepts in pattern making that maybe ignorance is bliss and promotes invention!

As this lady sit in my studio I looked over her pattern. It was basically a small book. The cost to create one copy would have eaten up her whole profit. I was careful to not discourage but show her one of my patterns and tell her the costs and profits. It is not a big secret that most patterns go for 9-10.00 retail. That means as the designer you sell for 4.50-5.00 per pattern. Patterns can cost up to 1.25 to self produce the color image/ packaging and all the instructions. That does not include any of the design time costs, sample making, ordering and folding and stuffing. If you added .75 cents to each package to attempt to make back some of that it would raise the cost of self publishing to approximately 2.00. That means you are making 2.50 per pattern. Shops usually but 3-6 patterns. So if the shop buys 3 patterns – you have made 7.50. Of course that is just one store.  Typically stores do not want to carry the same patterns as other  nearby stores – so you have to reach out a bit further geographically which takes time and money. As you can see it can become quite complex. Also there are a  ton of pattern designers out there.

I guess when I started, my small success was based on proximity and opportunity. My kids had started grade school and I had a bit of time to myself and it was a way to make a small profit while I was at home without the confinement of regular hours. The quilt shop was 4 miles from my house.  It was 2 miles from my kids’ school. I have good teaching skills. It all fell into place. My first order was 6 patterns! I taught a class that used my patterns and made a few bucks that way.  Could I go back to square one?- I really do not think I could.  To make any thing worth while – especially business it is always 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration!

I wished the lady good luck and she went off stoked to get started. I know that feeling. I wish her every success!

Yesterday I designed a Chuppah for my nephew who is getting married in June. It came out so nice! I am very excited to get started. I will go buy fabric tomorrow. (Tough assignment -go buy fabric –  but someone has to do it! lol) I made on for his older brother a few years back. You can see it in my Art quilts section – Large Quilts . It is much different from that one. It is more pictorial. I sent an email  to the bride to see if she wanted a peek. If she says yes I will post the pix – otherwise it will have to be a surprise and I will post it in early June. If she wants to see it I will post the sketch right away. I am so happy designing art quilts. I have been so involved in designing zebra patterns that I miss the freedom of just going wild and not worrying about how I will write instructions for the design. Better go – American Idol is on…

More to come!

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