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by Kristi Coupe December 29, 2017

It’s late December and a great time to reflect on the past year.  It’s still hard for me to believe that this idea I had only one year ago actually came to fruition and is now “Put a Quilt on It”.  I’ve learned so many things this past year, I think it’s important to take a moment to see how many things were accomplished.

Happy Holiday from Put a Quilt on It - artwork by Heather Ross

(Custom family artwork commission by Heather Ross)

As you may know, this idea for Put a Quilt on It came up last December when I was driving my kids home, looking at Christmas decorations and thinking about my aunt and uncle’s Outdoor Nativity Store.  I passed by some local barns and realized we could make barn quilts so much easier than the standard hand painted blocks.

Flower Farm Barn Quilt

I called my husband at work immediately to proudly proclaim my bright idea.  I couldn’t wait to shout my idea into the world, and then...voicemail.  Ha!  This would be a sign of things to come - extreme levels of excitement and then, pause, wait, wait some more, work, work, work, and finally some feedback and results!

Eventually I did get to share my idea with my husband, and as he always does, he greeted it with shared optimism and encouragement.  I went about creating my business pitch for my aunt and uncle to see if we could utilize their successful production techniques to create what we termed “modern barn blocks”.

Put a Quilt on It Initial test blocks

Of course you know they said yes and then the ball started rolling.  I figured out how to register a domain name, started designing dozens of quilt block designs, and worked on creating my first website.  We threw together our first test prints in record time so that we could pick them up from the warehouse in Southern California simultaneously with our planned trip to Disneyland.  I can still remember that feeling of giddiness when I saw the first photo of our test blocks.  I imagine it's the same feeling when a designer sees their first fabric on a bolt or an author holds a hard bound book in their hands.  It was incredible.

Our first test prints were far from perfect and we were still working out details on cutting, size, packaging, colors, etc., but after bringing those first blocks home, I was filled with confidence that we should actually continue to pursue this idea of mine.

Put a Quilt on It - Initial barn quilt test

The next few weeks and months were agonizing in the wait.  I spent countless hours finalizing block designs, working on web design, photography, the works.  We had to find boxes that would fit, packing materials and shipping services, while also brainstorming ideas for a marketing plan.  At last, April came and I was able to make the first social media post and just a few short days later, the website went live and I shared it with my friends and family on Instagram and Facebook.  I then (not so) patiently waited for our first order to come in.  Thankfully, a dear friend of mine soon put me out of my misery and we were in business! 

Suzy Quilts Modern Barn Blocks

In May we had our first giveaway on the blog Suzy Quilts.  Suzy had some amazing photos to share and I was so thankful for her enthusiasm in sharing our brand new product.  Her personality is unmatched in the quilting/blogging world and with her help, we had our first surge of sales.  From there, we had continued support with Rachel at Stitched in Color, Katie at Swim Bike Quilt and Sherri at A Quilting Life. We also had our first international customer in Canada! 

Pat Sloan - Modern Barn Quilt

Things kept growing throughout the summer and in August we had another promotion with Pat Sloan.  In case you didn't know, Pat is an author, podcast host, designer, and teacher.  When I found out that Pat liked our blocks, I was floored.  When she showed me her photos with her new block in her garden, I was in disbelief. 

Kristi Coupe - American Patchwork & Quilting

After great success with Pat sharing our blocks on her blog and her Facebook group (with over 100,000 members!) I was invited to be a guest on her podcast with American Patchwork & Quilting.  It was at this point that I took a moment to myself and thought "wow!" I truly felt like I had made some kind of mark in this quilting world.

QuiltCon Exhibitor Badge - Modern Barn Quilts

Another great milestone this year was being selected as a vendor at QuiltCon 2018 in Pasadena.  I have attended QuiltCon in the past where I met the likes of Anna Maria Horner (she complimented my shirt made in her fabric), Melody Miller (she posed for a photo with me) and Carolyn Friedlander (who I made a terrible joke to).  As a quilter, meeting these three talented and successful women whose work I admire so much was a dream.

Melody Miller at Quiltcon 2016

Joining QuiltCon in February is something that fills me with both thrill and terror.  This event is the major leagues and I hope I can represent myself and these blocks in a respectable manner.

A Quilter's Corner Erie Colorado Modern Barn Quilts

It was also about this time that we had our first wholesale order to a quilt shop.  Marci at A Quilter's Corner has been such a great person to work with and she has just announced some amazing news - A Quilter's Corner was been selected by a panel of quilt experts to be featured in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of Quilt Sampler magazine published by Better Homes & Gardens!  

V and Co Quilt Pattern

As a quilter, I have long admired Vanessa Christenson of V and Co.  From her books to her fabric lines to her quilt patterns, she has created quite a few inspiring designs.  When our Play Room block made it to the photos for her latest quilt pattern with the Confetti Ombre fabric, I was humbled.

Maple Syrup Modern Barn Block photo by Karen Lee Quiltaposy

With continued sales we were able to introduce new designs in the fall as well as a new logo.  We had the very popular (and now sold out) Maple Syrup design (photographed by Karen Lee @Quitaposy) as well as some festive Christmas designs.  From the beginning, I always envisioned making seasonally rotating blocks, so this was a lot of fun to create and a great way for our customers to switch things up.

Throughout all of this, I felt extremely emotional and vulnerable to every single up and down.  We had tons of fabulous feedback from our customers, but as a new business owner I was susceptible to overanalyzing every single statistic on web traffic, length of visit, abandoned carts, etc.  I sweated every imperfection and strived for 100% satisfaction from every single customer.  I generally crossed paths with individuals who were professional yet friendly and received feedback that was courteous.

As we look forward to the new year and continued growth I wanted to share a few fun facts about our first year in business.

2017 Year in Review from Put a Quilt on It

I hope you'll continue to come along with us on this journey.  From my family to yours, thank you for your support and to quote something I read on Facebook once, "When you buy from a small business, an actual real person does a little happy dance."  Thank you for keeping us dancing all year long!

Kids from Put a Quilt on It

Kristi Coupe
Kristi Coupe

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