I made a hard decision this week. It wasn't as hard as it could have been, but I figure, when facing the future of your business, decisions tend to get hard.
In 2009, my mother was able to realize her dream of having an independent studio space for
Graceful Quilting. There were many dreams surrounding the 1,700 sq foot space and many came true. Some did not.
We had a wonderful working space! Room to move and grow! We were going to have classes and gatherings. We might even carry some fabrics and notions. Thoughts of being a hub of all things quilting filled our heads for what seems like a hot second. We soon realized our quaint quilting studio in the country was just a little too quaint and a little too far our in the country.
A lot has changed since 2009. I was handed the business in 2012, after mom's rare auto-immune disease started affecting her energy levels. I didn't quite realize how much those dreams affected me. Now, a mere 7 years after the studio's opening, I unfortunately have to be the one to put some finality to those dreams.
The long-arm quilting industry is changing...rapidly. Long-arm machines are getting fancier, cheaper and more plentiful. The artists my mother and I learned from are replaced with artists who blog, twitter and instagram. A quick search on Pinterest will lead one to believe that Long-arm quilting will leave your quilt heavily and ornately quilted. New
long-armers are offering dense over-quilted designs for half the time they're worth. I figured out, pretty early on, that I needed to promote that Graceful Quilting provides practical quilting...for the usable quilt. Despite that, I've lost a few customers over the years who wanted a $600 quilting job done for $150.
Along-side the changing industry, my family is also changing. I have a daughter who is growing up and getting more involved in outside activities. She is now a Girl Scout Brownie and I, a Girl Scout leader. Our family has moved, with plans to build a house, and settled, realizing it was too much to ask for. My husband has become Grand Knight of his local Knights of Columbus chapter. I continue to devote much of my time to my local guild, the Martha Washington Quilters Guild. I've served as VP, now a treasurer and Quilt show Chair for the last 3 shows. .....and believe it or not, I do also do laundry, cleaning, cooking and all those suzy-home-maker things a good housewifing, stay at home momming, business owning, board sitting, scout leading woman should do!
It was during the last quilt show that I noticed some changes in myself. While my OCD was just as bad, my planning skills were lacking. I felt foggy and unclear, confused and oh, so tired. My patience was lacking and I was at a loss for words to explain the processes to my helpers. I've been experiencing fatigue since my early twenties, but it was much worse. Then over the last year, I've been experiencing some nagging muscle and joint pain. At some point I decided that at 34 yrs old, I shouldn't wake up feeling like a truck hit me, backed up, ran over me, then drug me 200 feet. I noticed it was affecting my job; I would wake up, dreading the idea of swinging a 50lb machine head around. And much more recent, I cannot quilt more than a full row without taking a break, lest my hands and arms go all pins and needles on me. While some claim I need a little more exercise, my active lifestyle would disagree. No, I don't run marathons or exercise regularly, I am anything but sedentary. A couple trips to the Drs office and he insists its Fibromyalgia, but he also uses his "quotation" fingers when talking about it. After confiding in a couple people about my symptoms, I know why my Dr. uses the quote fingers. According to most people, who are not doctors and don't feel the pain, Fibromyalgia is a bullshit disease.
I try very hard to be a positive person. I have always been, by nature, a pessimist and I fight it. This week, I hit a breaking point where, family life, industry, health and personal identity intersected; the pessimist lurking inside started to run amok. It was about 3 days of the worst depression I've experienced in a long time. During one of those days, I calculated, very seriously, how to shut down Graceful Quilting. Being someone who takes great pride in running her own business and knowing its one of the few things I can do well and love doing, it just sent me deeper into depression. After some agonizing planning, lots of tears and basement walk-though with my mother, the best decision revealed itself.....To relocate the studio to a more convenient location... my house...er....rather....the house that hubby and I are renting from my mom and step-dad, the house I grew up in and ironically, the original home of Graceful Quilting.
Make no mistake, relocating the studio to my home may be the best decision and the most convenient location, but it is certainly not the best timing or the most convenient option. There's a lot of work ahead that was not planned for and while it may mean making sacrifices for the business, I know that ironically, some of those sacrifices are necessary for Graceful Quilting to thrive!
During this transition, I hope to find the time to blog and update you...although writing about it may be more for me than for you! I'm looking forward to the positive, I get a brand new studio and I get to incorporate two of my new passions; spinning and weaving. I hope you'll stick with me through this journey and if you might have words of encouragement or inspiration, I'm not beyond asking for them.
Happy Fourth of July!