Monday, June 8, 2015

Quilt Market Recap-Schoolhouse

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter

We're running a little bit slow with our full Quilt Market recap posts, although we did post a little bit about our first day at Schoolhouse. The weeks after Market have been a bit of a whirlwind. I came back to San Francisco after spending a few more days in Omaha helping my parents, was back at work for two days, had two days at home for the weekend and then took the red-eye to Boston for my day job. I'm back for a while now, and hoping to get lots of crafting, quilting and writing about our adventures during the next two months!

We're going to post three more in-depth posts about Quilt Market: Schoolhouse, Sample Spree and the Expo Hall/Networking.

Schoolhouse is the day long program where quilt shop owners can come see new products, techniques and publications in the quilting industry. In order to present at Schoolhouse you have to have a booth at the expo hall, apply for Schoolhouse, and pay the application fee. If your application is accepted you are assigned a 15 or 30 minute time slot (depending on which you applied for). The schedule for Schoolhouse isn't released until the opening session at Schoolhouse itself where the session information packets are handed out.

We presented under the auspices of our publisher, The American Quilter's Society and presented our book Contain It! English Paper-Pieced Style Accessories. As you might imagine, we were super nervous about presenting at Schoolhouse; I think Mom might have had an actual nightmare that no one came to our session and we were presenting to an empty room!

Luckily, that didn't happen and we had attendees at our 15 minute session. The session was EXACTLY 15 minutes long, with just five minutes between sessions to allow the attendees to switch rooms as the next presenters rushed in to set up their own presentation. We came up with a presentation based off of the demonstrations we've done at the AQS Paducah Shows. We made up an outline and ran through the presentation a few times to make sure we had the timing right and wouldn't run over our allotted time.

One new thing we did was to make up little packets to give to our attendees. Our packets had three components:

  1. Information about Prairie Sewn Studios, including our website, contact info, times we would be at the AQS Publishing Booth in the Expo Hall and our handle on Social Media (@PrairieSewn). 
  2. A simple flow-chart of the container making process. This helps people to get an idea of how the containers go together since it isn't necessarily obvious when you're first working with this technique. 
  3. Samples of the three stabilizers we recommend (Peltex, Timtex and Buckram). Each one was labeled, and the Peltex also had a piece of fabric basted on two sides with 1/4" fusible tape using the technique in Contain It! 

At the end of our 15 minutes we were very happy with how it went, although also certainly relieved it was over and not hanging over our heads for the rest of Market. 

I think the attendees liked having the samples and the container flow chart. People, especially people who work in crafting or quilting, like to touch things with their hands. It's one thing to hear about the three stabilizers, but an entirely different thing to feel the differences between Buckram and Timtex and think about how it might change the design of a project and how their customers might respond. 

For that same reason, I think they liked that we had samples to pass around the room. We'd made up some extra partially completed cubes so that attendees could try flipping the container inside out. This can be the part of the process that people find the most intimidating, so it was helpful to allow them the chance to try it for themselves. 

One thing that we didn't think about going in (and a lesson learned for next time), was to make sure that we remember we're talking to owners and buyers for "small" quilt stores, the Local Quilt Stores (LQS) that tend to carry supplies specifically for quilters. We needed to be more cognizant that these small business owners are up against the big box stores and cater to that fact a little more. 

We're hoping that this information is helpful to someone preparing for a Quilt Market of their own and an interesting peek into the industry for our readers who might not have the chance to go to this industry trade show. 

Have questions about Quilt Market? Ask away in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Having samples and flow charts to send your attendees away with is a terrific idea Laura. School House sort of reminds me of that speed dating you sometimes see in sitcoms where people switch tables. So this way the LQS owners have something to remember you by.