Not a Business??

A few weeks ago I had a phone call from a quilter in another Western state. Our conversation was pretty typical, we chatted about quilting in general and some issues she was having. At several different times during the conversation, the quilter referred to “her customers” and to “her business.” She also stated that she quilted only pantographs and would like to learn how to do more custom work. We talked about what she wanted to learn  and to possibly set up some private classes with me.

She said she was in a “catch-22” – she couldn’t afford to travel and attend classes (private or otherwise) because her business wasn’t bringing in the $$ needed to attend classes. I suggested she raise her prices and find more customers so that she could make her business profitable. Then she said, “Oh, you mis-understood – I am NOT charging my customers for my quilting services.” I was dumbfounded! I asked her why she was not charging her customers. She stated, “I can’t charge anything because all I do is pantographs.” I told her I didn’t understand that statement and she replied,” I don’t do custom quilting so I can’t charge for my services.”

From that moment on, the whole conversation changed – dramatically!  She said that she didn’t know where she got the idea that pantographs weren’t “quilting to charge for.” She just assumed that if a quilt wasn’t custom quilted (which, to her, custom quilting was anything but a pantograph) you couldn’t charge for your time and effort. Because she wasn’t charging for her work, she said she had a LOT of customers and was spending all her time at her machine working.

Several of her “customers” were from out of state and SHE was paying to ship the quilts back to them. (We talked about that, too.) By the end of our phone call we had come up with a strategy about how she could begin charging her customers a reasonable fee for her services. I haven’t heard back from her yet so I don’t know if she did begin to charge her customers or how much she was charging.

Before I started writing about this conversation, I had to think hard about why I wanted to share this with you. And no, I don’t write about every phone call I get. First of all, I am not trying to embarrass or demean the quilter I was talking with. She truly and honestly believed that pantographs were “not real quilting.” (Yes, yes, yes! Pantographs ARE REAL QUILTING! And yes, I’m shouting that. Loudly! ) I am angry with her customers who were taking advantage of her quilting services and her kind heart. I am also a little miffed with other professional quilters in her area who didn’t step in and say something to her about not charging for her quilting. (Trust me, news of something like this travels fast between professional quilters – especially if you are in a small town and possibly are losing some of your customers to her.)

Here is what I want everyone who is reading this to know – if you are quilting for other people, other than maybe your family and your best friends, you SHOULD BE CHARGING FOR YOUR SERVICES. If you are charging for your services, no matter how little, you are in business.

If you are only quitting pantographs, only quilting large all over meander, only quilting Loops & Stars or Loops & Hearts, or any other fairly simple free hand designs, or doing custom quilting – whether it is just a little bit of custom quilting or super duper off the charts custom quilting, CHARGE FOR YOUR QUILTING SERVICES!!!!!

MACHINE QUILTING IS A SKILL THAT TAKES TIME, PATIENCE, PRACTICE AND PERSEVERANCE TO LEARN!

You SHOULD be compensated with $$$$, lots of them, for your skills! You have spent a lot of $$$ for your quilting machine, you have spent LOTS of time learning how to use your machine. You should be compensated for that!

Now that I am finished with my ranting and I have calmed down a bit, I want to again say, in a calmer voice – What you do is a VALUABLE service. You should and CAN charge for your quilting services.

I am posting below an article  I wrote about how to find out how much it costs to put a quilt on your quilting machine. This is part of my class handout when I give a presentation about the business of a machine quilting business.

Please feel free to read it and print a copy for yourself.

To view this article Click Here

Please feel free to leave any comments about the blog post or the business article.  If you would rather respond to me privately, you can do so by sending an email to longarmu@aol.com

I look forward to seeing your thoughts and comments.

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About Cindy Roth
Mother of 3, Grandmother of 11 and quilting forever!

8 Responses to Not a Business??

  1. Carla Fiedler says:

    Great lesson, Cindy! Thank you for speaking out and sharing it with us!

  2. Nancy says:

    Or if one is too “shy” to ask for money, at least barter quilting for…….housecleaning, yard work, car washing, pet sitting/walking, hair cuts, massage, quilt top piecing, wine, cooking……well you get the picture. But absolutely, at some point, that EXPENSIVE machine needs to pay for itself. Value yourself enough to know you deserve compensation for your investment of time, practice, and equipment. Open the conversation with a statement. I charge (fill in the amount) for quilting., AGAIN…..I Charge…… Say it in the mirror until it’s easy. No more freebies!

  3. I cant believe so many took advantage of her, thats a bit disturbing to me. I thank you for your post! I realize I need to value what I can do and keep working on my marketing.

    • Glenda says:

      Maybe I am very cynical but that so many took advantage of this lady doesn’t surprise me in the least! I see this almost every day not only in my business ( which is also selling quilting fabric) but in any “hobby” type business.For some reason, these people seem to think that one should be doing it “for the love of it. ” and begrudge one making a living.

      Here in South Africa, for some reason, people seem to think that – in this case -long arming is a hobby and therefore one should not charge too much to do something one enjoys.They are quite shocked when one asks them to pay up even relatively small amounts of money.

      Most longarmers here are running businesses and putting kids through school or helping with the home finances but for some reason, many toppers seem to think that we are ripping them off.Custom quilting at double the price of pantos? You have got to be joking! I do a LOT of custom quilting for myself but very little for customers because they don’t want to pay.

  4. Pat Barry says:

    Cindy, as always, you are a valuable asset to the quilting community. I am so glad you were able to connect with this person, and I appreciate your blog & sharing this experience with others. thank you for all you do.
    Pat Barry

  5. Cascading Quilts says:

    Oh my Cindy, you couldn’t have said it any better! I have always charged for my quilting services. I cannot believe someone would go out and invest in a longarm machine at a great cost in most cases and still be able to justify it by quilting for free. I know there are customers out there that don’t want to pay, but they can take their quilts elsewhere because I know my quilting is worth every penny! Thank you for the post!
    Amy
    http://www.cascadingquilts.com

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