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Threads of Success: Impressions of an Attendee

A Guest post from Elizabeth Rosenberg, the Quilt Whisperer. Elizabeth attended Threads of Success at Quilt Market in October. Thank you Elizabeth for taking the time to write, and share your experience of this Inaugural Threads of Success. Note: all photos courtesy Elizabeth, used with permission

Quilts, Inc Press Release

I first became aware of the Threads of Success (insert link) event when I read about it in an email from Quilts, Inc. some eight months ago. My very first impression upon reading it was “This is what I need!”

This is the group shot, taken after our final keynote lunch session on the last day of the Threads of Success event. The way everyone cooperated to get a good photo was a great indication of how much we had learned about working together, listening carefully and presenting our best selves at all times. Look at those happy faces! And look at how all 100 of us managed to fit into the shot!

I’ve wanted to write a quilting book for a very long time. My long-burning desire  had its seed in a comment made by my first quilting instructor, about thirty years ago. (Time flies, doesn’t it?) During the second of a six-session class, I asked her if I could please use my sewing machine for the rest of the piecing on the blocks we were making, instead of doing all the piecing by hand. She hemmed and hawed a bit before finally grudgingly giving her consent, and from then on I flew through constructing the blocks, making a twin-sized quilt top instead of the lap quilt she had designed for the class. I was on fire! My quilting obsession had begun! At the final session, my teacher had us all show our finished quilt tops. When my name was called, I walked up to front of the class proudly. After the requisite oohing and aahing had died down, my teacher announced that she looked forward to buying the quilting book she knew I would one day write.

The first photo below is a slide from Kimberly Einmo’s keynote luncheon presentation. She’s a really sweet person and an engaging speaker. Like all the other TOS faculty, she seemed really intent on providing the attendees with loads of confidence and sound advice, with a generous dose of her own brand of gentle humor sprinkled throughout.

Well, as I said, time flies. Somehow, thirty years or thereabouts have gone by since that day, and though I’d spent countess hours teaching quilters machine techniques, even inventing some new techniques myself, my quilt book dream had never come true. Somehow, something always got in the way, and I’d let that dream wither and almost die.

Next is a photo of the one and only Tula Pink. I was so impressed with her deep knowledge of the industry and her willingness to share it with us. Her presentation on the ins and outs of best practice in the field of fabric design was awesome! It was so obvious to me that she has become a major force in the industry not only because of her great talent and passion for color and design, but also because of her incredible business smarts. Her statement, “Always be true to yourself,” really resonated with me. It’s something she believes deeply, not only preaching it, but  practicing it, as is demonstrated in her own unique designs.

“Now,” I told myself. “This is it. Now is the time. This is what I need.” With my new quilt-teaching business settled into a comfortable routine, steady customers, and a schedule that allowed  for plenty of time to explore my Venetian Lace Quilt obsession, I decided that Threads of Success would the perfect thing for me to help me take my teaching business to the national level.  I took a deep breath, and registered for the event, choosing to pay for it by the installment plan Quilts, Inc. so generously offered.

Here is Ebony Love, presenting an informative session on how to produce a successful video class. Her talk really didn’t dwell on the technical aspects of video production, though she did mention some things that I never would have known otherwise Instead, she focused on telling us that we should strive to be the kind of instructor that students want to learn from. She emphasized how important it is for an instructor to be friendly, warm and kind, and to always present a professional image that makes the student feel you can be trusted. She also provided some really good information about hand care and some great nail polish tips!

I’ll let you read the announcement by Quilts, Inc. about the program. They can describe their plans for it much better than I can:

Threads of Success is a unique stand-alone conference bringing industry hopefuls together with industry leaders of today. The premier edition will run concurrently with the 2019 Quilt Market in Houston and will feature sessions, networking events, and lectures geared specifically toward new or budding entrepreneurs.
35 individual breakout sessions will provide content for the four Focus Tracks of Fabric Designers, Pattern Designers, Writers/Teachers, and Retailers/Inventors, with additional general interest offerings in copyright law and accounting/finance concepts. Finally, three breakfasts and two luncheons will feature keynote speakers who are leaders in the industry and beyond.

The next photo is of Cheryl Sleboda presenting her session about the importance of branding. She is a power house. Not only did she serve TOS as a faculty member, but she was the organizer in charge of the entire event, which went off without a single major hitch. During the event, I saw her everywhere, buzzing around from room to room, dealing with everything from slide projector issues to meal deliveries! She makes the energizer bunny look like a slacker sloth. Her presentation centered on the important topic of branding a business. She drove home her intense belief that every single aspect of branding, from choosing a the colors of your logo  thoughtfully to creating your own style of blog writing is crucial to your business’ success.

The event lived up to what was promised, and more. While there, I met other women (and two men!) who were, like me, interested in becoming part of the quilting industry. We exchanged more than business cards — we exchanged ideas, formed relationships, but most importantly, discovered our strengths and weaknesses, and how to address them and use them wisely. We learned so much about the industry. It was an exhausting but exciting time in Houston’s (seven football fields long!) downtown convention center where Quilt Market and Quilt Festival are held. The speakers and instructors were super-knowledgeable and shared their own experiences freely, giving advice and making us all feel as if we belonged in their world, with them.

The last photo is my favorite, even though it’s the very first photo I took during the TOS event, during the opening meet and greet session, with Charlotte Angotti as the featured speaker. Charlotte is a hoot! A woman blessed with a great sense of humor, she talked about how as a teenager, she had participated in competitive swimming. As we sipped our drinks and sampled the delicious charcuterie and fresh fruit that had been provided, she shared with us that her experience taught her two very important things: First, that an impressively long wingspan is a handy thing to have as a competitive swimmer, and second, that winning is not so much about being the best, but about working well with your team. That team-theme was repeated often by many of the faculty, and many of the speakers as well. The quilting industry, more than other businesses, is very much about working with the team, about building relationships and keeping them healthy, and always thinking about how our actions and behavior affect those around us, not just ourselves. This team-thinking was very much in evidence as I walked the market floor on the final day of the event, where I met with so many kind, caring and sharing industry professionals. Even after days of being on their feet, attending countless meetings, and working incredibly long hours, they must have been thoroughly exhausted, but they never showed a sign of it. Every one of them greeted me with a smile and a friendly handshake, looking happy and fresh, and asked me how they could help me be successful in my dream of becoming a national instructor and a book writer. I learned a great deal in my time at Threads of Success, but the most important lesson I will always carry with me is that the quilting industry is a very special one, built on trust and respect, a willingness to really listen, and a genuine desire to see others succeed. I feel blessed to have experienced such a wonderful event, and thrilled to be a part of such a fantastic group of people.

On the last day of the event, we were given access to the Market floor, where we were able to make contacts with the people who can make dreams come true. I used my time to approach a publisher I’d like to work with, and was encouraged by her excitement about my idea for a book. I also approached people with thread, fabric, interfacing and batting businesses to talk about my ideas and start relationships with them that I hope will flourish as I go forward in the quilting business.

My dream of expressing my own ideas about quilting, featuring Punto in Aria (Stitches in the Air) lace, in my very own book is more real now than it’s ever been.  The hard work to make my dream (and my teacher’s long ago comment) come true has begun, with the knowledge I’ve gained and with the help of the people I met through Threads of Success.

If you have any desire to become a part of the quilt world’s wonderful group of business people, give some serious thought to attending this fantastic event in 2020. You’ll be glad you did!

Thank you Elizabeth for taking the time to share your Threads of Success experience. As an active part of our mutual admiration society I am looking forward to watching you grown and reading the book I know you’re going to write.
Quilts, Inc will be running Threads of Success at Fall Quilt Market 2020. If you want to get into the business of Quilting this is the best place to get the foundation for making that leap. If your business is struggling in any way this is the place to hear the reminders we need to move forward, or take a new direction.

Happy Stitching,

6 thoughts on “Threads of Success: Impressions of an Attendee”

  1. So true about wingspan and winning. . .me, who has spent the last 39 years in the aquatic world. . .big feet help too. 🙂 It is amazing how many of our past life experiences help us as we navigate the present and help us again as we plan for the future !

  2. Hey, Teri! Thanks for asking me to write this. It was so good for me to revisit my time at Threads of Success with some hindsight. It’s funny how some things that stand out about the event became more important than others. But the best part was seeing you so often. Our mutual admiration society lives on…

  3. An excellent write-up ! It sounds like a wonderful event, and isn’t that what we all need, some encouragement and uplift, rather than the usual backbiting and destructive competition! A rising tide floats all boats… i look forward to the book!!

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