Hosting Retreats with Verna Mosquera of The Vintage Spool

March 31, 2023

Hosting Retreats with Verna Mosquera of The Vintage Spool

Verna of The Vintage Spool shares her experience and history in the quilting world. She has unique business ideas and creative ways that have brought success in her business in both hosting retreats and teaching. Verna is talented, sincere and has a gift for connecting with people. You won’t want to miss her story and the advice she offers to others on their entrepreneurial journey, as she opens up and shares about her own journey. 

Hosting Retreats with Verna Mosquera of The Vintage Spool

In this Craft to Career episode, we chat about :

  • What Verna has done in the quilting industry and where she started. 
  • She shares the story of how she first started teaching.
  • Verna worked in a quilt shop and learned so much about the business side, about customer relations, working with fabric reps, creators, teachers and the whys and hows and everything! She observed, gathered, discovered and learned so much about the industry with through this experience. 
  • While at the shop, she would take courses from different teachers who taught at the quilt shop. She shares two things that were pivotal as far as her design and teaching goes. 
  • She shares about when she started writing patterns. Her first pattern was a basket pattern and it was very difficult for her. 
  • Verna had a business partner at the beginning. She shares a bit about this and why she felt breaking away was the better decision. 
  • The Vintage Spool was born out of necessity when her husband was laid off. A few weeks after opening her business, her husband found a new job, but she was motivated to move forward. She never tool a loan to start the Vintage Spool. She talks about the early days and what it looked like at the beginning. 
  • She tells of printing her first pattern and talks about the importance of the pillars of laying the ground work for business longevity. 
  • After creating 12 patterns, she got brave enough to set up a booth at the International Quilt Market. She talks about how she set up that booth, and its location and how she was able to get foot traffic and attention. 
  • On the 3rd day of Quilt Market, she got the courage up to talk with someone at the booth of her dream fabric company and ask some questions about advice and being a designer. She got shut down, was given a hard no and walked away sad. However, she was able to get an appointment with Free Spirit Fabrics and had the opposite experience. She ended up saying yes to the opportunity they gave her!
  • Why after designing fabric for a good while, she felt it was freeing when she stopped. 
  • We talk about finding her niche and the exploration and experiment that it takes to find out what you are drawn to. 
  • Teaching- what this could look like for someone who is a designer.
  • She shares about her workshops- having people come to her! How she set up retreats, what she did and what made it lucrative. She also shared shares what she has loved about tit and the relationships she has formed with her customers and students and how fulfilling it has been. 
  • Verna talks about her kids and how important it was that they never felt neglected, overlooked or jealous of her business. She shares what she did from the beginning an over the years to involve her kids. She shares what that looked like. How she shows her kids what she is passionate about. 

Where can you Find Out More?

In the podcast, Verna shares a story about her Vintage Valentine Quilt. Here is what that quilt looked like back then:

Vintage Valentine Quilt
Vintage Valentine Quilt

You can check out the beautiful things that Verna has to offer here:

On her website The Vintage Spool

On Instagram @thevintagespool



Join me next week and EVERY week for new content helping you turn your craft into a career. Subscribe to the Craft to Career Podcast below:





Review of the week


[Music] welcome to the craft to Career podcast with Elizabeth Chappell or every week we
dive into how you can turn your craft into a successful career get ready to have the career you’ve always dreamed of
[Music] hello and welcome to episode 102 of the
crafty career podcast I am Elizabeth Chapel of Quilters candy and the host of
the show this week I am excited to share one of the most recent reviews and there are
some really great new reviews thank you all for taking time to to stop and leave
a review I’ve actually been able to book some guests coming up because of the
reviews so you are benefiting from this it’s helping you to have a better podcast if you’ve not left a review yet
take a second and go leave a review this review comes from Sarah sews Sarah
says I love listening to craft a career Elizabeth’s latest episode featured Krista Watson and was full of ideas on
letting go of imposter syndrome and following your dreams Krista really talked about hit and misses in her
quilting career and after that episode I felt encouraged to keep going in my pursuit of my quilt designing business
thank you so yes this was episode 100 and Krista
Watson did she shared it was such a fun episode and Krista is very successful
but it was so nice to hear the reality of what it looked like for her when she
went through some hard times in her business oftentimes we look at like wow look at where you are but we don’t talk
about the struggles and the things that you know maybe didn’t go so well so I really did appreciate that and Krista’s
episode as well so thank you Sarah sews for that review and this week I have a
guest on the show who is a friend of mine who we actually met because of the podcast she reached out to me after an
episode I don’t even remember which one it’s been a while now and we’ve been friends ever since and she has such a
cool history and background in the quilting Community I don’t want to spoil anything
so we’ll jump in you can listen to what what she’s done but she has had a really
unique way of having success in her career with hosting Retreats and
teaching and this is something that I’ve not done and this was a very unique business idea so I’m excited to have
Verna of the Vintage spool here on the podcast and let’s jump in and you can
meet Verna well Verna I am so excited to have you
here you’ve been a dear friend of mine and now I get to have you on the podcast so thank you I’m so excited Elizabeth I
am honestly I love the podcast and I was so excited when I found it and I don’t
think I started from the beginning but I definitely went back and listened to every single episode and every time I
listen to it I enjoy it so much and I learned something so I’m so honored to be a guest today I am just I’m excited
to to share a bit about my journey because I feel like all the folks that have shared I’ve gotten something out of
it so it’s exciting to think that I might be able to help someone else who’s interested in doing something like this
so yeah well and for the listeners too I hope they can appreciate you have such a
cool style so I have this pair of jeans here that you told me about from anthropology and I’ve had people ask
where’d you get those I’m like oh yeah Verna told me about those and we both love the may like mice and we just have
like a connection over some of these kinds of things we do and I just I’m really good at spending my friends money
hey you need this yes you are good at that just this weekend I was quilting with two really
good friends and I’m like oh look at this collection you might need to have this one I love it but it’s I am glad I
forgot actually that you had reached out I think because of the podcast and we have like become friends and connected
because of that so this is really fun to remember that um but you have a really unique
experience and history in the quilting world and so I’d love just from a bird’s
eye view if you tell our listeners what have you done in the quilting industry absolutely so I I started as a customer
I I was intrigued by quilting and I wanted to learn how and so I was just going to take a class
at the local adult school I didn’t realize that quilting was this world out there I’d done a lot of creative things
and luckily my mom uh had she’s a real estate broker and she had a customer and
she went to do a sign off one night like they were gonna sign some papers and the husband said oh no no we can’t do Thursday night that’s my wife’s quilting
night and she said quilting my daughter wants to get into that she’s interested in learning and so that lady very a very
lovely lady gave my mother three stores for me to check into I convinced my husband to go to one of them because we
were in the vicinity it was like a half an hour from my home hooked in there and I was like whoa I
did not know these places existed this is amazing so I signed up for the very
first class I remember looking up at the quilt the girl telling me well you have to start here and I was already like
yeah that’s not the cool time but if I have to start there I will start there and so I took a 12-week course
it was a sampler course and I learned the fundamentals of quilting and it was the best thing ever I was really lucky I
got to take this course from um a local Bay Area
sir she had authored many books on the subject she was an amazing quilter and just an absolute lovely person and so
kind and I just got an awesome Star after that I was going to take the next
course that followed and it was full the place I would take classes at was really thriving and would always feel their
classes would fill so one of the shop girls working the shop she recommended that I did I jump into this drop-in
class and you know just jump in and actually were thinking I don’t know enough to go into a class with these experienced filters no you can do it you
can do it and so I did amazing there were so many women in that
course that knew so much more than me and I’m like pretty gutsy so I just jumped right in head down started working about three months into like
coming every week this woman looks over and she’s like how long have you been quilting and I’m like oh this is my second quilt no way
so I got to know those ladies and I loved that atmosphere I think that was my first experience of realizing how
giving the quilting Community was they were willing to share supplies and tell you where they got a fabric and oh wait
you can have this little scrap I have enough left over it was so nice you know they were just so warm and the instructor that I had she just was so
like upbeat and uplifting and created this wonderful space for women to come every week and just you know have fun
with their with their craft then after um you know making several quilts I was
kind of doing a show and tell of something I had made and one of the shop owners said oh my gosh you should teach that teach that as a class
uh I never taught anything like what no you can do it you can do it and she
convinced me to teach a class on that particular quilt luckily I had you know I knew enough
teachers that had come through that I was able to ask a little bit of advice from one of the ladies that was super sweet and had a great following and I
just said you know help I’m teaching my first class do you have any advice and she said oh just give really great notes
it was the best piece of advice I ever got because that kind of was my first insight to like I can teach people to do
this but they kind of need the written word to go along with what I’m saying to be able to follow up on so that was my
first experience as a teacher I jumped in I had six students in my first class was so nervous two of them were the shop
owners I think it was more nervous about that because I felt kind of observable right even though one of them had encouraged me
and then from there um like about five minutes in I was like I think I can do this I’m enjoying this
I actually think I might be kind of good at this you know I kept teaching I built a really strong following of just
students that would see my quilts hanging in the store started taking my classes I started making friends with
them um and I did that for several years I also worked in that shop when I first
started taking the course I was my mom’s marketing director at a real estate brokerage and then it started like well
I’ll just work a Friday at the quilt store and every other Saturday and then it became like well I’d like to work three days at the quilt store and you
know so it kind of slowly um morphed into last at the marketing job and more
within the quilt world being able to work in that quilt store opened my eyes to so many things I was
really able to learn the customer I was able to learn the business side of the
business what it was like to order Fabric and Notions both of the um owners were so kind I think they recognized
that I have a strong interest in it and they allowed me to sit with them when they would have fabric reps come and
show the collections and what they would order and why they would order it um just all of those things working with
other real creatives in that store was really was really great because there was always a real strong energy of
creativity one would feed off the other person and we’d get so excited um working together on things that’s
awesome I also got to see a lot of teachers come through you know and so I got to observe their teaching styles and
what they were like and which classes filled why did they fill who had a stronger following why did they have
stronger following that kind of thing so it was just like this wealth of information and my mom always told me I
was kind of a sponge she said I would like observe and like sponge information and I think that looking back on it
that’s exactly what I was doing in that space I I found something I was very passionate about but I was learning and
I was kind of discovering all these things about this industry that I originally had no idea
was such a such a big space um I used to take different courses
while I was working in the store because we’d have these amazing teachers come through until one day two things um that were
kind of pivotal as far as my design like when I started to design um one I was starting to get bored doing
other people’s patterns I would kind of slightly change them up I would always have people buy the pattern to take the
class but I would do like a little slight twist like let me add this over here let me twist that up and and then
they would have to take the course to make that but still you know um buying the original pattern so that
that Designer was was being competent and um had two teachers come come through
um one um that I I remember the so vividly her name was Robin pandoff I don’t know if
she’s I don’t know if she’s even quilting anymore she was an amazing fabric designer she did a lot of beautiful applique patterns and we all
wanted to take a course because at the time I mean she was just like so popular and I was like oh my gosh she’s coming to teach here we jumped into the class
and the first thing she said was I want you to take your pattern out of the package and I want you to turn it over
on the back it was kind of like a big open folded uh thing and she’s like I want you to draw your own pattern and we
all kind of sat there Frozen and I looked around the room and I was like whoa like I’ve never experienced
this and I just remember thinking I had this moment where I was like what am I freaking out about I actually know how to draw like well let me give this again
so I started doing my own pattern after that I don’t know that I ever really fully could submerse myself into anybody
else’s power yeah um it was such a pivotal moment the other moment that I had was with a
teacher that I didn’t have such a great experience with and that was my very first applique teacher I was an avid
piecer when I started lots of pieces the more the better lots of math lots of pieces I like to complicated and I just
took an applique class because I thought I should learn how because I was working in the shop and I was afraid somebody
would ask me a question about supplies or Notions and I wanted to like be able to answer the question yeah
I was in way over my head like way over my head it was like a Baltimore album quilt which you should never start there
and I was such a perfectionist but I literally cried real tears for not being
able to do it because I was used to being good right yeah but and she was
just really rigid really rigid and really tight and like I just felt like I can’t make a mistake I’m not allowed to
make a mistake later looking back I realized yes you are I wasn’t supposed to be good at it right like I should
have been allowed a space to create with less pressure so I took that piece away for when I started teaching of like nah
you gotta create a space where people are comfortable and happy and calm and are allowed to make
mistakes and learn yes and that makes them feel so much more at ease in their learning process so I started um doing patterns
um you know the first one was super duper hard like oh my gosh I thought my head would explode
um and I did in the beginning like writing your own yeah my very first written pattern was a basket pattern of
course it couldn’t just be like a simple basket I had to do three different baskets you know on in three different
sizes and like it had to be very complex and I used I had to use like 75 Fabrics instead of four that’s just who I am I
I’ve learned to embrace that about myself I like it complicated um but it was really hard I I just
remember like I’m never gonna finish this this is so difficult I had no point of reference other than looking at books
that I had learned from or patterns that I had worked from um there was no class
I did start with a with a with a partner very brief partnership
um and then you know she’s a lovely person but I realized early on and I think you and I have spoken a little bit
about our experiences with Partnerships that it just wasn’t meant to be I could tell that we kind of were on the verge
of something good and we were struggling to make simple decisions together like we weren’t on the same page and I could
just tell that maybe I wasn’t wired to have a partner you know maybe that wasn’t and I also got pregnant with my
first son um and so I had to learn to be a new mom my life was going to change and it just
seemed like the best decision was to step away it was not easy
um there was a friendship broke in there at the time um which was really hard you know and
but looking back it was the absolute best decision that I had ever made
um fast forward about a year and a half um I was pregnant with my second son we
had just moved into the place we still live now it was kind of like our Dream
town and one that we had saved for and we were a young couple I was I think my older son
was like a year and a half and my I was pregnant with my second and we were like two weeks in our house my husband came
home and said yeah I um I got laid off today and I was like what oh no
you know and then it was like us very calmly walking the neighborhood taking the little one for a walk and just
saying well what could we do and I said I think I know what we could do and but you’d have to help me you know you’d
have to help me with this and so the Vintage spool was born that’s cool hold on I gotta take a minute here
so this was born out of necessity but I love that it was in a time where
I’m gonna guess this was very scary you were like I’m gonna be the breadwinner
here so okay this is exciting well I don’t I think I knew that my husband
he’s a really hard-working individual and I knew that he was going to get another job but I knew that we were gonna have to figure something out in
the interim right like and I knew that I and that he was very smart and that we could and I came from a line of like
entrepreneurs my uncle has his own business my mother had her own business I had actually started two businesses
and then like just stepped away from both like just not finding the right one so I felt like this is something that we
could do but it was really important that you take me seriously because I think the first time he just thought right right she’s playing at being in
business because we were like like funny like we would we would call on stores we’d get in the car grab our little
patterns take our little samples and just drop in at a quilt store and say hey you want to buy our patterns there was no like real like you know it was
just kind of like let’s put ourselves out there and see what happens um so yeah it came from just that moment
that could have been like major crisis mode and the funny thing is within like two weeks my husband had
another job but at that point the entrepreneurial Spirit had been ignited and I had a business license and a
business name and I was like okay well let’s just go with this right and my
husband was super pivotal both in convincing me that I needed to start designing for myself and in convincing
me that kind of how to navigate the first part of the business you know he was like oh no no no we’re not taking
money out to do this you’ve got to design a couple you’ve got to see if those sell and you got to take that
money and you’ve got to put that money back in there I like it and that’s exactly what we did we never
we never took a loan um to start the Vintage School we just
kind of worked ourselves and um and that’s where I was kind of going with the the relationships being so
important my relationship with my husband and the fact that he is a silent support system it’s always been my you
know my I’m the I’m the face of the brand I’m the one making everything but he’s
behind the scenes and so I jokingly say that it is true like I run a lot of things by him and I’ll say well let me
check with the boss you know like if a pattern’s been retired and the folks want it back I’m like I gotta talk to the boss let me let you know you know
and I jokingly say it but it is true like we’ve always together you know made these decisions but in the beginning I’m
gonna be really honest my goal when I started my business was like if I can
pay for the family vacation right that’s a win like right like right
but there was a point where I was like whoa like this thing’s kind of taken off I might be able to pay for a lot more
than the daily vacation this is pretty pretty exciting pretty cool stuff
um my kids well my parents were amazing my mom did anything and everything to
support me in you know in my teaching so that like she’d watch my children on certain days of the week so that I could
be teaching when I started doing workshops she would take them for the weekend you know like they would do
anything anything and everything I think at some point she probably even like folded Fabric or patterns I’m sure she
did you know um along the way and so did my husband you know so did my husband when it was like holy cow you know we’ve got a
deadline and it’s busy and I need help you know they all jumped in and were super supportive
um then uh once I once I had um you know I was gonna do patterns I
reached out to a local printer that I knew he had he had actually we had we
had interviewed him to be our printer when I had the first business and it just we kind of walked away but he had taken so much time that I remembered wow
this is a really caring individual who took a lot of time let me go back and circle back around with this guy he must
have thought it was nuts because I was pregnant and I was like I want to do this and he’s like okay if you want to make what and I remember fast forward
like several months when the business started booming he I remember him looking at me going
they feel like Prince I’m making a what yeah oh
yeah it all of a sudden got a lot more interesting right but he’s he’s still my princess to this day you know oh no way
yes way I I have used the same printer the same long armor and the same
photographer since the day I started my business relationships that is cool are
super duper important they are super duper important to me so um I think it’s like those pillars right
those pillars of laying the groundwork for a successful business with longevity
you know yeah it’s just building a um kind of a business relationship of trust
um making sure they’re doing what you need being you know sincere and polite and getting what you need
um you know I joke but they’ll jump through hoops for me and it’s because I’m very loyal and because I’m kind and
because I’ve you know built this relationship with them but if I pick up the phone and say hey exactly like by
this date they’re like we’ll do anything you need you know yeah that’s invaluable I mean you can’t just replace that that
is like years in the making yes it really is so
um after you know doing those um I did about six patterns and I did six more I
got um brave enough to do a booth at the international Quilt Market and that was
probably in I started the Vintage School in 04 I think my first Market was
probably 05. um it was pretty nerve-wracking but I
got really lucky I don’t know what made me ask for a slightly bigger boost I asked for a booth and a half
and for whatever reason I got Prime real estate they put me right in the middle
of the show and it was a lane where you had to walk the aisle to get to a very big fabric company so I had an amazing
foot trash awesome also had an awesome friend who helped me set up that um that booth and her advice
was make the booth feel like a room like a room like make it let’s make it your
studio make it a space people want to enter and come in and just get more of something that really shows off
who you are and it really work I got a lot of um a lot of foot traffic and a
lot of attention at that show and then um you know I am not show I’m I’m I know I
got at least one of my Distributors from that show maybe even another I’m having trouble remembering because it’s a long
time ago the other thing that happened at that show was on the third day
um that was back in the day like the day you’d go out and network a little bit you know and I think I knew that I had
aspirations to do fabric in the future but I mean I had very young children with me I think maybe even like they
were at the show with me like they they my mom traveled with me for them to be close by and
um so I decided that I would kind of venture out and um go just make some connections you know
so of course I yeah looking back it was actually so funny that I actually did this because what was I thinking but um
because I had no portfolio I had nothing I was just like inquiring myself you know so I approached um the fabric
company that I thought at the time was like my dream company you know and I just kind of said you know who do I need
to talk to if I’m interested in doing Fabric and I knew one of the Reps and she’s like oh you need to talk to so-and-so and so I went and you know I
kind of excuse me you know hey and um and I just said you know I was
just kind of interested and I got shot down in the most oh really awful way
like it was brutal like I don’t think I’ve ever like what did they say oh you don’t want to know
no I do I really do we don’t know who it is so I was really
approaching with the idea of I’d like to know if in the future I
wanted to do fabric if you could give me some advice on what you’d be looking for things like that I had used their
fabrics for many years many years and they were in all of my designs so it
just seemed like it would be the right fit here I am showing you what I can do Fabrics Etc and yeah she was not kind
and it was kind of uh I mean like the gist of it okay so the just was
um kind of I remember it was like a hard no and it was like uh the last words I
remember and these are the ones that stuck with me is you just keep doing your little patterns okay and uh yeah it
was brutal like I said it was like gut crunch looking back
I don’t know that she realized she was as harsh as she was or maybe how hard she it was for a designer to approach
somebody that way and also Me Like Somebody I need to just walk right up like I didn’t have an appointment I
didn’t have a portfolio yeah I think it was it was just a gutsy thing to do and I don’t think she had any idea the
impact the good news is by the time I got back to my booth after taking that hard blow
my girlfriend who was helping me said hey you have an appointment and I said what do you mean I have an apartment she said yeah I just made an appointment for
you the owner of free spirit Fabrics was just here she loves your booth and she
wants to talk to you and I said what so I recovered pretty quickly because at
the time yeah you did free spirit was a very up and coming company I knew exactly who they were and I went and
talked to her and it was like night and day she couldn’t have been Kinder she was so enthusiastic about my work she
loved what I was doing and she wanted me to try to create it in Fabric and um
so um I sat with her interviewed with her we talked at length I told her I
wasn’t expecting to be offered like a fabric company that early and then I
have very young children and I’m not sure because I knew that you know I had friends in the industry and I’m like I know there’s deadlines and so she was
super kind super accommodating go home chat with your husband and I remember
going home and talking with Miguel and just saying you know I feel like this is
like one of those opportunities that just doesn’t come around like this very often I think I maybe need to say yes to
this and so I did I did I said yes and like figured it out you know I had no formal
training it was not easy um there was no how did you do that like how did that work I can’t even wrap my
so you were a fabric designer for free spirit which is a big deal I did lines for them for about 13 years I think I
stepped off it was kind of a mutual decision right before the pandemic to stop to stop doing the fabric but yeah
it was it was crazy I just adapted figured it out and I was really lucky
the engraver was super super kind that worked there and we kind of you know formulated the system and it just became
kind of like a like a system of how we do things and then I would take my Collections and create a pattern usually
around them usually one of my block of the months or things like that but it wasn’t easy because
um I was known as the kind of the more traditional artist
there so I kind of feel like I always kind of like did out a little bit or maybe just didn’t okay I remember like
when the booth would be up everybody’s would be bold and vibrant and everything in my aesthetic was like so different
and I even remember like some of the some of the raps saying and this is our traditional artist you know which was
like it made me just feel even more like oh God I don’t really fit in that we made it work it was a good
experience um I look at back on it as a real positive but there are parts of me that
um it was very freeing to stop doing fabric oh okay interesting how so well
because my work um with the patterns it’s it’s really about using so many fabrics and so many
details and trying to do that and I think it did a
pretty darn good job of it but but in the beginning I think we were allowed maybe like oh I don’t know maybe 12 18
skus and then slowly it started to go down it was like 12 skus and now the industry wants eight skus and my work
that’s just really complicated to do with just so few skus uh and I I just
kind of that was kind of my aesthetic in my style and that’s what my customers wanted and I think looking back if you
look at my patterns created before I did fabric for the Vintage School I mean the DaVinci’s full patterns and after I
stopped doing fabric they are definitely I think my strongest work that’s very interesting and I think part of that was
you know the the freedom and the ability to create from and I describe it as this
instead of the the crayon box that has 12 crayons I’m now with 164. you know
that big box that you’ve got when you’re kidding you’re like oh man yeah
very free for me and so I do miss doing fabric
sometimes like I look back and or every once in a while I’m hunting hunting that and then I can’t find what I need and
like oh and I think about it I do think about it um but I don’t know you know like it’s
also nice to now it’s the other part that I think was difficult is I love being my own boss I love setting my own
deadlines I’m pretty organized I’m pretty structured I know what I can manage it was difficult to work within a
kind of a more corporate world where you kind of knew like I knew a lot like what would sell or how it would sell and a
lot of times it would be like every Market there would be you’d roll in like new peeps that you needed to meet you
know the new sales this and the representative from this district and the you know the the the Europeans such
and such and I mean they were all phenomenal and really great but you kind of felt like every Circle we’d start
over again and it was just um just hard well okay I’m interested in this so like as a fabric designer for
agf I’m not meeting with anyone so did you have responsibilities to like meet and
try and promote your Fabrics so so they definitely I mean there were opportunities that would come up for
example at the time free spirit um was a division of coats and Clark so my pieces were popular in Europe for
example and so they’d want to have lines you know uh in Europe as well and so
there would be opportunities that would come up of like you know uh you could take this pattern and adapt it here or
just different little opportunities like that and I always just kind of felt like you didn’t want to say no right you
didn’t want to say no but I don’t think I mean I understand that from their corporate world they have numbers
they’re looking at sales figures they’re looking at they have no idea how much time as designers were spending on
pattern designing creating samples photographing all of that so I always
felt like there was a slight disconnect between the pieces um and that that was hard because I
always felt like they just didn’t get me they didn’t understand the volume of fabric that I could have moved had they
embraced this type of pattern and just if we get behind this artist with this type of pattern
it’s mind-blowing how much product you could actually move and sell but I just
never feel like that was something that they understood you know I mean I feel
like then there’s potential for you to still do that I mean do you have your eye on like well maybe I would want to
still do fabric you know I I have thought about it and there was a point where um there was a
um a changing of uh ownership with the free spirit company and there was a point where we were
um we thought that it would be no more and so the artists were caught in this odd sort of limbo period at which point
we were being approached by other companies and I was at that time approached by a company that understood
who I was and was like we could do X Y and Z and I did think about it in that
moment but then this buyout happened and the artists needed to remain under contract for a period longer
um but it has always kind of been in the back of my mind if I found the right company
um who really understood and also in like one of the things that I did not do I look at it as both an a mistake but
not a mistake was I was not on social media I hadn’t I’d never used social media personally and I never used it for
business until just recently until like kind of right before I reached out to you it’s mind-blowing uh you know the
the connections and the and the volume and things that you can do using social media so I look back and think well that
was a mistake you know but I also think I remember one of the reasons and I kind
of watched some of these young designers and what they’re kind of dealing with and going through and I was never competitive with anybody else like I
never looked at anybody else and said oh I I want to be her but I was very competitive with myself like I always
needed to do the best job that I could and I think as a young mom and a young entrepreneur
it was I was I could sense that it wasn’t good for me because I felt like
if I saw people doing certain things I I might feel like well I should be doing this and I should be doing it and it was
always like another bar that you needed to hit or another hoop that you needed to jump through and I’m probably going
to get a little bit emotional because my family is so important to me and I never ever wanted to put anything before
them whether it was my husband my children or my parents um I just didn’t you know and I just
sensed I think I sensed that that wouldn’t be good for me I’m just too much of like an overachiever too much of
like a and it just would have been like a bar that would be insurmountable yep all was moving up always moving up
always constantly moving that bar and moving that bar and I just don’t I don’t know that it’s that it’s healthy because
I can even like I can even think about like I just recently had this amazing launch on this
one particular pattern and inside I’m like how am I going to top that how am I going to top that like that’s crazy
right I feel that way I should be so excited you know right but that’s right right I am as a human being it’s who I am as
an individual it’s how I’m wired um I think I’ve gotten so much better about it as I’ve gotten older right like
you look and you go yeah I don’t I don’t they’re doing that okay cool I don’t need to do that you know right
um you know but I think when you’re younger when you’re newer in the industry and when you’re kind of trying
to figure out your Niche you know and you know we talk a lot about Niche and I kind of feel like I sort of found my
Niche after a little while in the beginning when I started quilting I dabbled in everything you know I made a
quilt out of flannel and I made a quilt yeah and I made a quilt that was fatigue I made a 30s quilt I dabbled in
everything I remember when I made one with kind of softer florals something happened inside like I got very like oh
you know I got very excited and it sort of just kind of like that scope just sort of narrowed and then it was like
yes this is what I really like this is what I love I started with Patchwork I
didn’t even think I would like applique there was a moment where I just realized whoa this is like the perfect match of
my skills I’m great at pulling color and combining color I know how to draw and
kind of tell a story in Fabric and you know I’ve got these quilting skills and now these hand sewing skills and I find
this technique really soothing I spent a lot of hours perfecting my technique and
then I was able to teach other people so I think we find that you know carefully
and and kind of slowly and then all of a sudden that that it just Narrows down and you go this is this is where I am
the interesting thing is when I started the Vintage School My slogan and that was in o4 romantic and Timeless
design and I was just looking at that the other day and I was like yep I’m still on target that’s exactly what
yeah John says it’s like vintage inspired it’s uses soft color and
there’s a lot of florals and things that are pretty and I mean you can see behind me because you you can see my space my
space is very much that space But I’m not really a girly girl like right right
I’m not like I joke and I’m like I would take you know pizza and beer over champagne in the Opera anytime I’m just
not I like a sports game and like I like you know sticky bar floors and like it doesn’t I have like
I have like a design Persona and then who I really are right like not soft and
delicate in any way but you know I love that exploration of
the niche because so many times well for one you’ve got to have one to have success but people try
to rush in or pick one and you just can’t you know you’ve got to experiment and try the things and you’ll figure out
what you’re drawn to because sometimes it might be very different from your personality you know yeah and I’ve really learned to listen to my instincts
you know with design like I can feel when something’s got to come out it’s like a feeling you know it’s
not even an idea it’s just like a feeling I get that kind of comes over me where I’m like stop the presses
everybody get out of the way I gotta I gotta jot this down I gotta put this into a graph paper I gotta you know I
gotta pull fabric it just sort of just but you learn to again I think with with time and with experience and with age we
get wiser we get more tired I used to applique until yeah now I’m like dozing
off with the knees in my hand at 9 45 that’s pretty sad yeah no it happens it does happen well
and I want to be sure to touch on too this aspect of teaching I do not do in-person teaching I have never I don’t
know if I ever will but it’s been I mean it was kind of your foot in the door with having a career here but it’s also
we’ve chatted and you have talked about how lucrative that can be so I’d love
for you to just paint a picture of what this could look like for someone who is a designer absolutely so the where it
started to do more event style teaching again from my husband um
I would get a lot of offers from guilds come and come to our Guild give a lecture come teach a class and it was
just too hard with young children and like leaving and I I remember going to a
market thinking I was going to come back to this very happy family and it was just a disaster like my mother and her
husband got along great and I got back and they were just at odds the kids were like oh and I was like okay this
probably isn’t such a good idea so my husband was the one who suggested why don’t you have people come to you and I
was like oh well there’s a novel concept um and I had when I started quilting
attended the most wonderful event called The Liberty Gathering and what the Liberty Gathering was was this little
town in Missouri called Liberty Missouri and they would get a bunch of teachers come and they would do all these little
events around this time with all these students coming and taking these classes and they would do little kits and they
would let you shop at the store special time and they would do dinners and so I knew I couldn’t do something as
elaborate as that but I love my town and so I decided that I would work to figure
out a way to get folks to come to me and so what I did is I started teaching these workshops these Retreats we call
and I found a space where part of the space was a classroom and the other part of the space was a mini store and the
women loved the mini store because we would rope it off and we would fill it with all kinds of treasures and those
attendees often got first shot at one of my pattern creations and they were really lovely because they were total
guinea pigs sometimes I’m like okay there’s no photograph there’s no pattern size of the pattern and you’re going to
have a kit that goes with it and they were just thrilled to like be there and excited to be part of it we developed
the most amazing community of people that would just continue to come back and then they would bring friends the
next time or family members and they’d bring their husbands and the husbands would go hiking or golfing I mean it was
just super fun awesome super fun and I just realized early on in those
workshops that many of the folks that were there were not necessarily coming to me for instruction
they were coming to me because I created a space where they could do something they loved for several days without
interruption without the stresses of their own lives whatever those might be whether it was you know taking care of
young children or caring for an elderly parent or work stresses and they could do it amongst other people that were
doing exactly the same thing and we’re so happy to be doing it so I think just creating that space allowed folks to
just be like this is so much fun and then I also worked in conjunction with
both my local quilt shops and it brought them a lot of business as well because we would go and visit their store little
private showing little private shopping tour um they would welcome them and give them
Little Treasures I mean it was just so much fun and those teaching relationships both from the early days
and then through the workshops I believe that those are forever long time
customers they still reach out all the time I still see what I do a pattern
launch I still see their names coming through I’ll get sweet emails they’ll share them photos
um they’ll send Christmas cards I mean it’s just a lovely group of people
um that I’ve met over the years and I just have so many so many beautiful experiences with my customers and my
students over the years I’m gonna share one because it just totally stands out to me it was just a moment yeah I did
something for a customer that probably most people wouldn’t but it paid off in droves later on
um I had young children this woman called she needed help picking fabrics for one
of my quilts and she was local and she asked if I would meet her at the store the local store and help her most people
would have been like yeah lady I’m sorry I just can’t do that for you um and I remember I needed to go swim
with my husband I was like you know Miguel I just I just need to do this something tells me she’s so kind I just I just need to do this I’ll do it as
quickly as I can and so I went and I met her and I helped her pick these
these back and at the time it was my most difficult most popular pattern it’s a like a very
heirloom pattern it’s called vintage Valentine it totally like just kind of put me on the map like it was that
big of a pattern and at the time she’s like you know I want to make one of these for every one of my grandchildren
I was like
okay but right if that pattern was my second pattern I
ever released that pattern came out in o4 and um I think it came out no four it was one of the original six fast forward
to the year that I lost my mom and I’m at a local quilt show and my
booth is up and it’s really hard to just put that that face on because I’ve got a lot going on behind the scenes and I’m
approached by a woman she says I don’t know if you remember me and immediately I recognize your face
and she’s like I’m the lady you know you help me pick my fabric for my very first one and she pulls out a photograph and I kid
you not it’s four granddaughters two on each side of her each draped in a
vintage Valentine quilt and I was so did you cry I would have just oh my God I
lost it because I had just lost my mom and I knew how important my kid’s grandmother was to them but it was just
let’s take it a light like oh my gosh you know like wow wow
that is so cool yeah We crave that I feel like so much like with social media
with and it’s not going away you know if anything there’s artificial intelligence and it’s yes but we are we’re social
beings and those social connections it’s Priceless you know and I love the idea
of having something where people come to you so you don’t have to pay for the
travel and all that you can be close to home it’s feasible for you and it’s a fun getaway for the people who are
coming yeah as soon as you said like a private shopping event like it sounds
very like Chic you know like I like that they also got a goodie bag
that I would take good care they got we every table had a door prize that was
the arrangement on the center so they would you know I’d change them up every every time because we’d have a theme you
know whether it was Easter or Paris or so the centerpiece would always be theme related and then they were going to be
door surprises that they could win and we always did one um fancy day of food
which was like a tea or a luncheon and it was always the you know on theme they
just felt so special being there and they looked forward to it so much and they really enjoyed their time you know
it was a ton of work on the back end I will say I would love one thing right have fun at your retreat you know and I
was like it is fun right yeah it was it was like honestly
and yeah and lucrative like if you’re a money pit this is something that you
earn money with oh yeah because you had the the fee that they would pay to
attend the workshop the um especially if you were doing a project that would kitted so you’d have
the kit that they would pay for to do that and then this is something I
learned very early on and it’s the reason this came is because I taught a workshop for another shop out
of area and I had these students for three days and those students were at a hotel and
they would leave the venue to go find quilt stores and go shop so they wanted to buy stuff and I’m like and it was a
pet shop and I’m like why do these people not have product in here why are they letting this live they have for
three days go elsewhere so I remembered that and I was like no no no this is a
live audience and my my assistant at the time would tease me she’s like Verna you could hold up a number two pencil and
those girls will just flock to the store and I never sold anything that I didn’t use myself but but for some reason like
when you’re demoing it’s right there they need it they want it and they’re there to spend money I remember going to
the international quilt Festival the very first time and I remember standing out front of in
front of the Houston convention center and there was Greyhound bus after Greyhound bus lined up outside all full
of Quilters and I remember how much money I had in my pocket and I was not wealthy and I had a
thousand dollars in my pocket in cash right yeah so I remember thinking about
a thousand times you know all these buses and people they go to spend money
that’s what they want to do they want to buy their products they want to buy their kits they want to buy the latest Fabrics what Notions are new we love
this we spend of course we want to spend money on it you know like so as a designer and as an
entrepreneur I think you always have to think like if I didn’t want to make money at this I could have just kept it
as my hobby I’ve always thought of this right this is my career this is my job I
don’t feel guilty or bad for making a living I work really hard at this and
like I said I will never promote a product that I haven’t used I will never try to sell you something that I am not
behind or that I don’t think is going to improve your um your quilting experience with my
patterns early on I set out I worked off a lot of patterns that weren’t very well written so early on I’m like no no I if
I bought if I write a bad pattern people are just going to buy the first one and be like well it was really pretty but
gosh that pattern was terrible you know they’re not exactly yep so I set out to try to write the best possible pattern
so that people would buy that one and the next one in the next one so I don’t know I think
I’ve done some things right I love that yeah you have well and you’ve been in
this longer than I have you know like you’ve been doing this for I remember when you reached out and hearing the
things you’d done I was like wow I mean that’s a whole lot of knowledge that I
don’t have and experience and these Live Events and it’s just I love that you’re
unapologetically like this is my business and I work hard at this and I I
work hard to bring forth a good product and I am not apologizing when I
expressed interest in you know doing this when he saw my passion my brother again life-changing moment me this book
called The Business of bliss and it was all these women who had taken their Hobby and created a business out
of it and I read it cover to cover I remember thinking yes yes you know I think I can do this you
know and that was a life-changing moment it really was it wasn’t without mistakes
sure yeah I was recently taking a class and I was just so touched by this designer that was taking the course and
she had her newborns sitting on her lap and I can remember like in the early days how important it was for me to make
sure my kids never felt in any way neglected or or jealous of my work or my
business and so I would incorporate and include them as much as possible they were always right with me side by side I
would let them in the early days I would let them decorate the house with fat quarters you know like here you go these
are what you can touch but over here these are mommy’s tools that are dangerous we don’t touch the rotary counters things like that as time
progressed then they would um come to the workshops and they could help the ladies you know they walk around and
give the little numbers for the ladies to do their um their door prizes as they got a little bit older then they
could actually write things on the ladies tabs because they were getting older as I got a little bit older than they could work the cash register you
know um and so on and so that’s awesome it was awesome you know so you know it’s
it’s difficult I work from my home uh I thought at times it would have been
really nice to have an office to go to when I’m in the right laundry room trying to take a call with a customer
praying that my kid doesn’t cry in the background you know in the early days but luckily yes most of our customers
are moms or you know dads and have um those same analogies you know with
everybody working from home I think people are more used to it and whatnot and my third child who has just stepped
away my dog Oliver
keep talking I know I didn’t hear that actually
that’s good because I was trying really hard to like just talk over again
it’s crying but I love too how you’re able to show your kids this thing that you’re passionate about that you don’t
have to sacrifice that you can you know be a mom and and involve them and let
them see this thing that you’re passionate about and I really like that but I thank you for coming here and
sharing your experience particularly I mean your story of the things that you’ve done but this idea of teaching
doing these Live Events it’s very very fun it sounds like a party and I would love to go to one so
so okay for our listeners if they want to come and see your things and all all that you do where can I find you so
right now I am not doing any in-person uh teaching events I may start that again in the future unfortunately that
was kind of curbed here in California during the pandemic so I did take a step back from that but for right now you can
find me on my website and you can find my daily goings on on Instagram at the
Vintage School I’d love to share Works in progress and kind of what I’ve got going on which has been really fun
um I never used to do that and Instagram was kind of giving me that space and kind of like I’ve gotten a little Bolder
with it and it’s been great I get a lot of really great feedback and I think people enjoy watching The Journey so if
you want to kind of along and see what I’m doing you can definitely you can definitely find me in those spots but I
really appreciate you having me as a guest today Elizabeth I love what you are doing and sharing with the industry
and I’m just thrilled to be able to be here today and share a little bit about my story and hopefully it will be
inspiring or helpful to somebody who’s who’s in the mix or thinking about starting you know and I’m always open to
absolutely people reaching out I’m I I try hard to um give back to younger
designers because I was really lucky that I had a few people that just get great bit bits of wisdom and advice and
I know how hard it is to not know anybody or to not know if you’re doing the right thing so
I always encourage folks to reach out yeah you are I mean you’ve just been such a sweet sincere friend to me I mean
it’s like you have a gift for connecting with people and genuinely caring and so
yeah thank you for being my friend for reaching out and for being willing to share this oh you’re so sweet thank you
I appreciate you as well I love it I think I reached out because I sensed one time just a little hesitation on one of
your podcasts and I was like no keep going you’re doing great I love what you’re doing and I love this keep going
I love this podcast because I enjoy it so much so
I can’t believe we haven’t met in person I I lose there’s people who I’m like oh
no we’ve met we’ve met but we haven’t so yeah okay thanks for having me Elizabeth
yeah thank you we’ll see ya all right take care [Music]
Verna thank you so much for being here on the podcast it was so fun chatting as always and we just got in touch the
other day she was telling me where her son got into college she’s just such a fun person and so talented I if you
haven’t seen her Instagram go take a look she’s got such cool applique in
fact little spoiler alert if you’re in the Quilters candy membership she is preparing a brand new applique pattern
just for us coming up in a few months so go take a look at her lovely designs and Verna thank you so much for being so
open and sharing your business ideas and your story of you know how you’ve grown your business it was just so much fun
having you it was lovely having you on the podcast so everyone have a wonderful week I’ll see you right back here next
Friday on the crafty career podcast until then take care [Music]


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