Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Developing a Plan

Back before I was a mom, I was a teacher.  The time I spent teaching prepared me to be a mom in so many ways & for that I am grateful.  I stopped teaching to start a family about 8 years ago.  Having kids took a little more effort than I'd planned, but 6 years ago, I had a beautiful baby boy named Wyatt.  13 short months later, we were pleased to welcome another blessing into our world, as well... My son, Owen.  I've been a stay at home mom the whole time and I love it.  Truly.

However, next year Wyatt will be in 1st grade and Owen will be in Kindergarten.  I will suddenly have more time alone at home.  I'm not sure yet if Owen will go all day or 1/2 day, but I'll know soon.

I toyed with the idea of going back to teaching, but it's not really what I want to do right now.  The politics of education (especially in Kansas) makes me really frustrated as a parent and I'm concerned that as an employee of a school district, I might become even more cynical.  Also, my husband travels a significant amount for work and I'm concerned that I'd be too unavailable for my kids if I worked full-time.  

So... I've been thinking about what I could do to bring in some money while still having the flexibility to go on field trips & volunteer at school.  I also want to do work that I enjoy.  Working for myself would be preferable...

My solution?  It is a little crazy, but I'm considering buying a longarm quilting machine.  I'd have to do some rearranging, but I do have room for one.  Before I could profit much, I'd have to work pretty hard to pay off the machine, as I have zero dollars saved for this venture...  But I've put out some feelers & gotten some really encouraging feedback from friends and family.  

Those of you who know me in the real world know that I'm really passionate about Quilts of Valor.  We make quilts for wounded veterans and active duty service members.  Anyone who has been affected by war can have one.  I've worked with friends since 2006 and together we've made hundreds of heirloom quilts that were given freely to veterans, most of which were strangers.  The sense of accomplishment I feel is priceless.  The skills I've developed as a quilter are priceless.  The relationships this process has formed are priceless.  I will always make Quilts of Valor.

Our local quilt shop (Quilter's Haven) has let me quilt several Quilts of Valor in the past few months during some special events.  It's been SO fun!  I'm relatively untaught & just winging it, but am having some success doing free motion quilting.  I think that by taking a couple classes & picking the brains/watching some of my longarm friends, I can prepare to own my own longarm.  I don't think I'd have too much of a learning curve before I could quilt for hire. 

My plan is to do all over quilting, semi-custom and custom work.  I think we have a shortage of quilters who will do custom work here in KC.  The ones I know who I would recommend are pretty busy, some turning new customers away.  I have some friends who have similar plans, but I think there's room for us all.  The quilting community is alive and well here in KC.  I could also tap into my online presence & market myself to people who live elsewhere. 

Also, I could ramp up my Quilts of Valor efforts.  We have a shortage of longarmers.  Plenty of prolific quilt toppers, but we currently have Quilts of Valor piling up around us, ready to quilt.

My lofty goal is to have my business plan written in the next month or so, to take classes and learn over the summer & to buy my own longarm in time for school starting in the fall.  Let's say September.  I'll need to line up some customers between now and then, but I don't anticipate that being a huge issue.  I'm already a member in two guilds.  I would likely join 2 or 3 more between now and the fall.  Networking will be key, but luckily, networking is something I enjoy and am good at.

I'm opening my Etsy shop to make some money in the meanwhile.  Must save & find an investor or two...  Must also convince the hubs that this is a great idea, but I've been working on that.  ;)

Give me some feedback, friends!  Tell me what you think.  Am I a little nuts?  Nuts in a good way?  What am I not thinking about?  What should I focus more on???  Are you excited?  Talk to me, people.

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