Business: Quilt Shop of DeLand (Quilt Shop and Pattern/Book Company)
Judy Hansen is a quilt shop owner, an educator, a designer and an effervescent ball of energy and enthusiasm. She has owned Quilt Shop of Deland for the past 16 years. Judy is also an author, having written three books on quilting and creating over 75 patterns. She has also designed over a dozen colorful fabric lines. We’re proud to say that Judy will be sharing some of her skills and knowledge with those who visit EnMart in booth 2312 at Quilt Market. Judy believes that “an educated quilter is just more fun!” and she will be helping to create both fun and educational moments in our booth. Before you stop by booth 2312 to see her at Market, you can learn a bit more about her here.
Please describe your work.
JH: I have owned the Quilt Shop of DeLand for 16 years. It has been an incredible journey! We started out in a small 700 square foot store, but now own a 3,000 square foot building. My inventory includes all the items you would expect in a quilt shop, but our specialty is how we package our offerings and how we treat our customers.
What do you like best about what you do?
JH: Oh that’s easy – the quilters walking in the door! I love customer contact and interacting – having fun with the ladies and occasionally guys who quilt. I love hearing their stories, who they learned to quilt from, who they are making a quilt for and I love my shop staff.
What is the biggest challenge you face in doing your work?
JH: For me, finding enough hours in the day to do all the things I love. I taught school for 20 years before opening the shop and I love to teach quilting but only do it on a large scale now, generally at Guilds, Houston Quilt Market Schoolhouse and AQS Shows. I also love to design fabric, and am now with Blank Fabric. I also design patterns and write books. I am a big multi-tasker so somehow it all gets done.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing your industry as a whole?
JH: The economy can be a big downer…many of my customers are retired and, of course, their lifestyle comes first.
Were you always creative? Did you make things as a child?
JH: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to draw. I was also so fortunate to have my grandmother live with us. She taught me to sew from an early age.
Was there someone in your field that helped you when you were starting out?
JH: I had a lovely mentor who owned Quilter’s Marketplace in Florida since the early 80s. One of the very first shops in the state. She was generous with her time and advice when I was opening and we are still friends.
What one tip would you give people starting out in your field?
JH: Do your research, write a business plan. It can be as simple as:
Who: Who is your customer, what age, where will you find them, this will guide advertising.
What: What do you want to sell? If you want to sell fabric mainly, have classes. Also, price range, what do you want people to say about our prices when they walk into your shop.
When: When will you be open, and will you sell online as well. Remember your family will be impacted by these choices too.
Where: A biggie! Location and surroundings can determine a lot. Do you want to be a discount mart? A classy shop?
Why: Why are you opening this business? Passion can only take you so far. Many business owners start with zero staff and work 24/7.
What are your goals for your business?
JH: To continue to be one of the best shops in the nation! I love staying up to date, and our motto is: “the newest, the latest, and the very best products and service”.
If you could travel back to when you started in this industry, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
JH: I hired knowledgeable quilters at first, but I soon found out that employees don’t need to know everything about quilting. What they do need is to love people and be enthusiastic about quilting.
What is your favorite leisure time activity?
JH: My family and spending time with my 3 little grandbabies — all under 4. And reading! I love novels, mysteries and quilting themed books. I am also a fabric designer so I draw every chance I get.
Why do you buy from/work with EnMart?
JH: That’s easy, they have a fantastic product that my staff, customers and myself all love. A big plus is their customer service department and easy order website.
What EnMart products do you use most?
JH: I teach free motion quilting on the home/domestic machine and I love, love, love the 50 wt. cotton! It’s wonderful to both piece and quilt with and the variegated colors are awesome!! The polyester – over 300 gorgeous colors – is great for embroidery which is a new love of mine, and great in the bobbin too. Iris thread is a real bonus with selling machines too. The thread performs beautifully when we demonstrate stitches and we give a free spool with their machine to start them off with the best.
Why do you use these products?
JH: Quality is the key in quilting – you are stitching at high speeds and don’t have time for breakage or poor performance. Iris is simply the best product we have found for our quilting.