Inspiring Entrepreneurs Series *MSQC*

Missouri Star Quilt Company

is the first business to be featured in DGP’s

monthly

Inspiring Entrepreneurs Series.

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This creative, innovative and home-grown business is the perfect choice to highlight in the inaugural post of this series for so many reasons.  I’ll admit those reasons are mostly personal, but I’m sure my admiration and respect for them will appeal to many others because in so many ways their story is the epitome of the classic “American Dream”.

When I first discovered this wicked cool company, I was at the height of my disillusionment regarding business in general and was going through one of what I hope is the final stages of grief over my own small business that I had to sell 7 years earlier.

It was October 2013 and I had been restructured out of my corporate job suddenly and totally unexpectedly.  It happened so fast!  I was at work hosting a meeting at 8am and less than a half hour later I was driving home on a random Monday, one day before my one year anniversary with the company.  I was so shocked I couldn’t even cry…I had been working 60+ hours a week, constantly on call, phone ringing at 3am, answering e-mails while I was drifting off to sleep each night and working harder and with more commitment than I ever had in my career.  The adrenaline from the chaos and relentless nearly around the clock work coupled with the shock of someone just arbitrarily turning two Sr. Management jobs into one wouldn’t allow me a moment to grieve.  No, I sprung into action and networked, applied for jobs, called every friend and colleague I could and busied myself with anything I could get my hands on.  I was still working 60 hours a week but not “at work”.  My body and mind didn’t know how to stop so suddenly.

A couple of weeks earlier Jason and I had gone to Shipsewana, IN and I saw this particular group of products in their fabric store.  They were called fabric “pre-cuts” and by looking around I discovered that the tedious and arduous (in my opinion) task of cutting fabric yardage into little shapes for quilts had been done for folks in beautiful coordinating fabrics.  Nearby were books filled with patterns and instructions on how to turn these pre-cuts into beautiful quilts.  I was awe-struck!  I wanted to buy them all up and go home and start making quilts immediately.  But I quickly remembered that I didn’t have a sewing machine, nor a single moment in my life to do much of anything besides survive my job, play with my dogs, cook for my husband and  restlessly drift off to sleep anxiously  anticipating the struggles of the next day at work.

So we left saying “someday”.

Well that someday was three days after I lost my job.  I bought a used machine off of Craigslist, Jason and I took a trip back to Shipshewana and I had enough fabric for 6 quilts!  The lady checking us out asked what I was making.  I told her Christmas presents.  Her eyes shot up in surprise and she told me that the amount of fabric I was buying would take her a whole year to sew up.  Lol…..I secretly wondered if she might be right.  Little did any of us know that in less than 12 hours I would discover JENNY!

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Her love and enthusiasm for what she was sharing in her infamous tutorials was obvious.  I immediately fell in love with her (everyone does). And the very next day I had made my first quilt block in more than 20 years.  (I had learned how to quilt the purist way in 4-H as a child…all by hand, piecing, quilting EVERYTHING!)

It wasn’t but a couple of days later and I had a full quilt top!  Then another, and another and….well  I had made 6 quilts by Christmas!

It was healing for me to be creating.

It’s always therapeutic for me to be creating…but especially in this time in my life.  My pottery studio was closed up for the winter and if I didn’t have this outlet I would have wallowed in self-pity, given into panic and fear about what would come next in my career, and generally been pretty miserable.  Instead, she inspired and empowered me to do something I never imagined I could actually do.  It was fun, challenging, and oh so rewarding to give those quilts away two months later.  I was able to focus on the joy of giving, at a time when I would have been focused on what I was missing.  It was a true blessing to me.

And then I started poking around on the company web-site and store.  LOL!  I think I spent at least 3 hours browsing through all those beautiful fabrics and being amazed at how much quilting had changed and modernized in the 20 years I wasn’t paying any attention to the craft.  I wondered about this charming, delightful soul….who was she, what was her story?  And then one day I found it.

The about section on the website.

It’s not at the top….but kinda hidden at the bottom.  I clicked on it and read the story of how the business was created, evolved and tears started streaming down my eyes.  It was a mixture of those tears that gently fall when your soul is touched and you get inspired by someone or something and those tears of sad longing maybe even regret for the dream still in your heart that hasn’t found its way out into the world yet.

Does that ever happen to you?  You see some expression in the world that triggers you into remembering a deep longing of your own?  How do your react?  If you are anything like me and human at all…it’s probably a mixture of jealousy, frustration and hope/inspiration.  Untangling those conflicting feelings can be tricky!  It can be so easy to fall into the belief and thinking that stuff like that only happens to “those people”….whoever those people are anyway.  Right?

I’ll tell you who “those people” are.  They are people with a love of something.  That’s it.  A love of something and a love of each other.  The honesty of their business emanates from everything they do.  You can just “feel” the good energy and pure authenticity of who they are being what they do.  The rest…well those are just the fine points that work themselves out along the way.

*~*But the core of what they do is what they love.*~*

And so in the process of untangling those feelings of “that kind of thing will never happen to me” and “I had my one shot at being a small business owner and I blew it” and “those kinds of stories are one in a million” what I discovered is that the essence of the dreams that gave birth to MSQC (love, family, passion) is what has made them the success that they are.  I’m sure like any small business owners the stories of creating the business aren’t all rainbows and unicorns (they never are) and I’m sure they have had many struggles, triumphs, unexpected twists, heartbreaking disappointments and silent tears shed at night when the store lights and cameras are turned off.  They are people, just like you and just like me.  And the inspiration I took from learning about this business and these entrepreneurs is that you are wonderfully and perfectly made.  inside of you is a unique gift that may seem ordinary and unremarkable but it just may be the exact thing this world needs!

No one sees the world quite like you, let your passions joys and inspirations drive daily action.  That action can lead to innovation like it did with Jenny, and all she did was share herself and her innovative ideas with the world and look where it has taken her, her family and her resilient community there in Hamilton MS!  Because they showed up and created, now 85 people in a town where industry had died and the economic recession hit hard, were employed and feeding their families doing something they love.

I don’t know if anything is more remarkable than that!

Happy creating my friends!

P.S.

Since I wrote this blog post and saved it in the archives Jenny and MSQC were featured on The NBC Nightly News!  how cool is that?!?

Here is the news story

P.S.S.

Here is my favorite tutorial of Jenny’s!

P.S.S.S  Here are some of the the quilts I made and one in process using the tutorial I linked above.

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