Meet your colleagues online FORUM
How the Shop Began: I had always dreamed of owning my own business one day. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997 and took up quilting while going through surgery, reconstruction, and chemotherapy. After being laid off three times between 2002 and 2004, I decided to get a Gammill Classic Plus machine and do machine quilting out of my home. I had people who wanted to use my machine to quilt their quilts, but my homeowner's insurance policies got in the way, so I decided to put my business plan into effect to open the shop. I was also tired of going to quilt shops and seeing the same material. This made me want to be unique I don't have the same things as other shops in San Antonio.
Opening my business also enabled me to be my own boss. My father became ill with cancer in 2004, and I was going to be needed to help take him to doctor appointments in San Antonio and at M.D. Anderson (Cancer Center) in Houston. Cat's Meow Quilt Shop finally became a reality and my father saw it before he passed away in 2007. He was a regular at the shop. Before his death, I also became the South Texas Gammill sales representative for Linda's Electric Quilters in McKinney, Texas. I currently own a Statler Stitcher and do customer quilts along with renting out my machine.
Grew Up: I grew up in Trumansburg, NY in the Finger Lakes area. After getting a disability discharge following seven years in the US Air force, I was offered a job in San Antonio and made this my home.
Experience: I have over 47 years of sewing experience, having started in 4-H when I was 6 years old. I have an associate's degree in computer operations and a bachelor's in business administration. Previous job experience has also helped me.
Business Goals: My goal is to "retire" from day-to-day operations while remaining involved with my store. I would have employees run the store so I could take it easy and do what I love to do. I hope to become a great professional long-arm quilt er and enter a quilt in the International Quilt Festival. One day, I want to have several Gammill machines available for rent and have thread and basic long-arm supplies.
Role Models: My mother had seven children in eight years; I grew up with four sisters and two brothers. We lived on a small farm with cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and other animals. Mom and Dad taught us values along with cooking, cleaning, laundry, sewing, and so on. They always told us to "put our minds to work and we would be successful."
Responsibilities: I do the day-to-day operations, run the business, and machine-quilt customer quilts. My niece Jennifer Wilkening handles the website. I am single with two cats (Cleo and Calicat) and also help take care of my mother, who lives next door.
Self-Description: Organized, intelligent, and creative with ideas to market items I have designed.
Single Biggest Challenge: Keeping up with everything I want to do - not enough time to do it all.
Looking Back: I can see some things I would do differently in opening a business again, like not purchase anything until I was in my shop location. There is a lot to do with the business plan. I wrote mine by myself and then Washington Mutual wanted to use it as an example of what a business plan looks like. SCORE and UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio) Small Business were impressed with my business plan, but now I see a lot more things I would have added to make it even better. Still, I am currently happy with the direction my business is going.