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For those of you thinking of giving up

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I was thinking about you all last night and I was wondering how you had done your business plans before you started your business. This probably will not help any of you now but it may help some who are just thinking of starting out.

If you don't mind thinking back to your original business plan . .

1. How long did you figure it would take you to get customers and make a profit? How long has it been? Are you past that point or are you getting anxious?

2. Back when you started, did other longarmers in your area have a long back log? Do they still? If so, I think together we can figure out why they do and you don't.

Maybe there are other questions to get this ball rolling but those are all I can think of now.

I'm not trying to hurt anyone's feelings here but sometimes the cold, hard facts can make a difference. There's a local girl here who cannot get business. She's changed machine brands twice thinking it's the machine's fault. (She's yet to get an APQS.) I've seen her work, I've seen her deal with potential customers.

I'm certainly NOT saying that anyone who isn't getting enough business is to blame but that's just one example I thought of.

On the other hand, look at Tammie (Grammie) here. She has a full time job, is a new quilter and is as busy with her longarm as can be. She's even getting business via Fed Ex. Why? I've never met her but she has to be related to the Energizer Bunny! Even in her posts, she comes across as exuberant, full of self confidence and willing to tackle any project that comes her way!

Please don't take this post wrong -- I can already see it coming and am thinking I should probably delete it but there's absolutely no reason why some of us should be bursting at the seams with business and others have none.

Together . . let's solve this problem and let's all love our machines and our longarm business.

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I truly hope no one takes your compassion the wrong way, I certainly feel it in your words. Also, I can relate to what you may be saying.

When people come to my house this is what they see...a person very confident in their quilting knowledge (I may be a weeny in other aspects, but quilts are what I know, and it shows!!!). They see evidence of my passion all around, many have commented that they feel they are at a quilt show (ok, maybe we do have a lot of quilts, but everyone needs a quilt to cuddle up with watching tv and there ARE 6 of us!!!). They hear the confidence in my presentation to them and are put at ease that I am experienced. I am not shy about giving my opinion and they seem to appreciate it.

I may sound a bit cocky, but in this aspect of my life I have found my niche. I believe that my 25 years as a quilter has been preparing me for this path and when it shows, people pick up on it and things start to happen!! Don't get me wrong...I still owe a ton of money...but I'm sure it will all work out. I figure we're only here for a short time on this earth and if I can spend it meeting all these great people and seeing their lovely work I am truly blessed.

I think I may have got a bit side-tracked here, sorry about that, I couldn't help it!!!!!!

I've always heard that a new business may take a number of years to get on its feet. I think if people are getting nervous in only the first year or so, they should give themselves a break...try and have a little fun and enjoy the ride. I hope I'm not be-littling peoples feelings, I know that it's hard to fight the anxiety.

Have a great weekend...........Sandra:)

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Judy, I believe this needs to be said.... I knew when I bought my machine last September that this would be a process and it would be a process that would take time. I did not expect to have business the minute that I turned on my machine and took that into consideration when I made the purchase that I did. I think we all need a wake up call once in a while. The process of bringing in business to pay for the machine is alot of work and everyone thinking of purchasing a machine needs to know that its constantly alot of work. I am sure that even you being in this business for some time, wonder occasionally as business slows for awhile. After all I know that everyone new and old at some time wonders... Why did I do this? Theres always something that makes life interesting.... Interesting clients, Interesting quilts, People saying things that hurt your business, For the most part there is alot of good people out there but there is always one! LOL. I guess what I am saying is when purchasing a machine think long and hard and know exactly what your business plan is like Judy said... and then when you decide to purchase your machine you will feel confident knowing exactly what you are doing and where you are going because you have done your research.

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Melody: At this time in my life/quilting career, I honestly don't wonder. I understand that I'm in a different position from some in that I'd just as soon be piecing on my own tops as quilting for others, I'd just as soon be quilting my own tops as quilting for other . . as long as I'm working with fabric, I don't really care whose fabric it is!;)

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Guest Linda S

This is a really good point Judy! My first year and a half in business was quite slow. I had taken my cards to several quilt shops, but some would not take them until they had seen samples of my work. Since most of my work was on customer quilts, I didn't have much to show them except pictures on my website, and, to be honest, you just can't see stitching quality in pictures. What finally got me off my roost was taking classes in different techniques and putting together a sampler. I took that to my guild and a couple of shops and the phone has been ringing ever since! You must get out there and show that you can do this. Excitement and exuberance will get you somewhere!

P.S. - I'd also love to be doing my own stuff. One of these days, I will!


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You right what you put in is what you get out. I have not put anything into fining custlomers; BUT I think too that some are led to believe that if they buy a machine people will automatically come to you. I literally was told that also quilters never advertise and that its such a hot market customers are lining up! I was told its easy to mke 75 an hour to start!

So I can see why quilters are in shock when this does not happen. You can judge how much work is in ones area by back logs. Also as to finding out how many quilters are in your area--I did my homework I could find two now there is ten, I also know how many quilters are buying home setups are rising.

What people need to know is that longarm quilting is a hard business thats takes education and perservience.

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Susan, I think you hit the nail on the head that we need to do our homework and not rely on what others are saying. I also heard that I could make $60/hour and that was about 9 years ago. That came from a longarm dealer and I knew other longarmers who were great quilters and stayed very busy and weren't making that kind of hourly rate.

Backlog is a relative thing too. Some quilters may work full time at other jobs or have a bunch of kids at home and they may only do 2 quilts per month. Therefore, they may have a one year backlog. Others may have no outside job, no other commitments and do 50 quilts per month with only a one month backlog.

When I got my machine in 1998, there were only 3 other longarmers that I knew about in the area. I know there are at least 40 in the area now and that isn't counting those who have bought their own home quilting system and doing their own tops. And, with all these numbers, I still feel there's enough business out there to keep us going. I'm still very optimistic about the longarm business simply because I have longarm friends all over the U.S. and a few in Canada and I know how busy they are and they are still having to turn business away.

I could name dozens of quilters who have contacted me through the years wanting to buy a longarm. They want my honest opinion about whether they should go into business. I can't, nor would I, tell someone what they should do but when someone tells me (1) I'll have to finance the machine and I HAVE to be able to pay the note each month from my income (2) I have 5 kids at home that I am homeschooling (3) The machine has to go in the garage which isn't air conditioned because there's no room in the house for it, (or similar facts), I'll always tell them I'd recommend waiting just a little while. No one ever waits!! I've decided that when people call me asking for an opinion, they're already decided what they're doing and really wanting confirmation that they're doing the right thing. Therefore, I no longer even listen to nor comment on people's ideas about whether or not they should purchase a longarm.

Yes, it's fun having a longarm. I hope I'm never without one. Yes, I make decent money with the longarm but I had a perfect room for it already (no extra costs to get it set up and running), I wasn't working so I didn't give up a paycheck to stay home and quilt, my husband pays all the bills and doesn't expect one dime from me for household expenses (I'm very lucky and yes, I'm keeping him .. you cannot have him!), my husband is out of town too much with work and I have one 18 year old son who has ZERO time for mom so I have about 24 hours a day to devote to quilting.

We all have different circumstances/needs/wants. No one person, not even a longarm salesman, can tell you what is right for you. You must do your homework, weigh out the pros and cons, look at it all with an open mind and make a decision. If you make a decision that a longarm is not right for you, let it go! Re-examine it later when your circumstances change. Don't keep fiddling with the numbers/circumstances trying to make it work. If you decide a longarm is right for you, get it and hit the deck running. Never lose sight of the dream of having a successful longarm business. The beginning years may be hard (as with any start up business!). . probably much harder than they were when I started simply because of the number of longarmers out there but you CAN do it if you are determined and willing to put the effort into it.

Linda S. mentioned that her first few years were slow. I don't even know how Linda and I got connected but we started talking pretty early in her longarm life I think. I remember her having slow times. Her work always looked impressive to me. She's smart, communicates well and I knew she would make a go of this and she has. You can too!!

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Judy, Who would'nt want to just work on their own....:D

You know when I first started looking at a longarm it was three years prior to when I actually purchased it. And I made the decision at that time that it was'nt the right time in our life to do it. I had two sons that were 9 and 6 and I knew that the time they needed was more important than anything... and honestly, I knew financially we could'nt handle the cost of the machine at that time. This was'nt to say I did'nt still want it but I knew that It was'nt the right time and I also knew I would'nt be making any money to help pay for it any time soon.

Fast forward 2 years.... I found a Millenium on this site in the classified area that sounded very intriguing and when I called the lady she had not found a buyer yet and needed to move within days and did not want to take the machine with her. She gave me an absolutely wonderful price.... I wanted it bad!!! Financially 2 years later we were able to pay for the machine outright and my husband (whom I am keeping also!)told me to go for it.

One month later... after having very many, many frustrating moments with my new friend and the tension ... My husband approached me and said... why don't you go ahead and when you have Chris Alexander come up and look at your machine and what the problem is, Have the Compuquilter added to your machine and then you will have the whole package. Keep in mind though... I am STILL paying for the Compuquilter every month. But I am also still working as a bookkeeper for a construction company about 30 hours a week.

I guess what I am saying is, I did'nt have stars in my eyes when I first started this adventure and almost did'nt even start it in the first place. I knew that there would be hard work. But if I did the time and research it would be my turn eventually. I have'nt reached my turn yet... I have only made about $150.00 on my machine but I know that my payments are made by my working outside the home right now. So I just do my marketing plan on my days off and go to my Guild meeting every month and I know that eventually someday it will be my turn. In the meantime I am turning out some beautiful quilts for ME and loving every minute of it.

HARD? YES.... but I am going to do it!

Just my two cents.

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Good for you Melody! Enjoy the time you have on your quilts now, while you

can! I agree with Judy too, as long as I am working with fabric..... I love to

work on my own quilts - but I also treat other quilts like mine. I probably

should charge more for what I do, Custom Work and SID and such, but I

have just had my machine for almost 1 year now. I am happy my name is

getting out there and quilts are coming in. Right now hanging down at the

Fair, the Grand Champion quilt - I quilted it! Feels pretty good too!:D

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I like this topic :)

Like Judy L I too have a very supportive husband, who pays all the bills (and I also am not planning on letting him go anytime soon ;) ) My machine is paid for, I took over our living room as a quilt studio/ office so I didn't have to renovate or put out any additional $ to make it fit. I bought a Liberty not the Millie with CQ ect... I am a stay at home mom and all of my kids are in school all day now.

I was fortunate enough to click with a LQS owner who was only in business for 6 months when I bought my machine and she sends me lots of customers. I don't expect to be the only LA she refers people to ( I personally like the competition because it keeps me wanting to do my best and learn new things). I love my business, I have made a lot more $ this past year than I thought I would in my 1st year and I love meeting new clients and connecting with them and getting to know them. I don't worry about the customers calling, because so far I have been blessed in that the phone has been ringing steadily and my backlog remains consistant. In my area there's alot of Gammils, alot of statler stitchers and alot of people who own the handi-quilters (I have had a couple of people who brought me their larger quilts because they can only quilt sm quilts using their handi-quilters).

(Grammie) is doing so well because her passion & confidence radiates from her and she makes everyone feel like her best friend. :)

Others on this board do very well because their work and skill speaks for them (but it took them all time to get to that point).

There are so many factors that come into play to determine whether a business will be a success or not; realistic goals, starting out small and upgrading as the business grows, being able to live on no income generated from the business for a year or two, being able to market yourself and skills, being able to connect and listen to what the client wants and needs from your business, being able to budget the $ when it does start to come in and being able to put some $ back into the business as needed. Also being able to be flexiable is key, & having a very supportive family that will pitch in on housework, cooking & chores.


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First off let me say congratulations to Judi on her Grand Champion ribbon....

Secondly, I too have been thinking about things lately regarding those who have stated they were giving up and about myself who has been on a hiatus for almost 12 months...

My husband moved me to New York in November 2004 from Reno Nevada and with me I brought over 75 quilts from customers there....In early 2005 my husband had a major industrial accident and stayed in the hospital for over 3 months almost loosing his right foot....in which time I didn't do any quilting, then there were back and forth doctor visits into the City after his release and now in March 2006 he has been totally released for work and back on his feet, knock on wood and thank God all prayers were answered. Now all the quilts are finished, except one or two and they will be soon, but to get back to what I wanted to say.

I too am now making the correct steps to get set back up and running as a business and having to start from total scratch, new name and more than anything I wanted to express to the new ladies and those who haven't gotten to the point of where they think they should be its not going to be any easier for me just because I "have been there done that". I am in a totally strange area....todate I haven't really looked to see how many there are of us here in my area, but I'm sure that there are tons...its New York State its not Reno Nevada where there were only 15 in the business and tons more just as hobbists. My competition is going to be strong here and I will have to prove myself all over again...starting with the rounds of guilds, shops and anything else I can think of to get back up and running.

Everything that has been said by the ladies before me on this subject has been so on the money that its scary...heed their words and listen...they aren't talking to scare you off they are saying what they are to make you aware of the boogie man and so you know where he is and you can avoid him....learn by our mistakes....There isn't one person on this forum that will tell you something just because they want you to leave and never come back or so that you will fail. If anything we will hold your hand until you are up and flying with colors.

I totally agree with JudyL...its great to have a machine I don't ever want to be without mine and I too was making decent money with it, but I will also say that I was burnt out when I moved and this break was a needed one, just wish Gene hadn't been so badly hurt to make me realize that...and now I'm ready to hit it with vengence, and have learned how to be a little more smarter with things and know how to pace myself so I won't get so burnt out again...and I too expect it to be slow again. But this time I will take it as a sign that I can get a few of my own UFO's done....and not a sign that I haven't done everything I possibly can and beat myself up that I failed and will never get a quilt to quilt...

Failure is when we never try something and complain because it didn't work....

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I have enjoyed reading these post and agree most of us need a wakeup call from time to time. I can say I purchased my machine for the pure love of quilting and wanting to quilt my own quilts as I was paying a lot of money for other quilters to do the work. I myself knew piecing quilts was something I was not willing to give up love the feeling when I complete a new quilt but to be able to finish it off with your own quilting is just as wonderuful of a feeling. I had no worries of payment paid for my machine in full at time of purchase and my wonderful husband was fine with it if I never made a dime. I work full time and bring in a good payecheck. My business plan changed when I felt the pressure to scoop up some customers because all the local quilters were kicking it in to high gear many of them purchased statlers and me who never even considered a computerized machine started thinking wow I should get that not because I wanted one just thought I needed to keep up with the competition. I have learned a very good lesson in all this:

1. don't ever compare what another quilter is doing just concentrate on your own quilting.

2. never under price yourself for business that will always back fire on you as it did with me.

3. Be a patient and learn your craft and people will come once your work is out there.

4. Never talk badly about your competiton it hurts your credibility.

5. Enjoy yourself and your quilting first and foremost and the pressure to make money will be secondary.

I have just recently decided not to pursue quilting for anyone else but myself and if people start to come again I will have a set business plan and pricing guide and I will not stray from that ever again. This works for me I am not saying it works for those of you who purchased machines for a business I really feel for all of you and hope that things start to go your way. The busy holiday season is approaching and I think many of use will be to busy to post in a few months. I think everybody on this forum has great things to say and the support is unmatched to anything I have ever taken part in and I appreciate all of you for that. There are many wonderully gifted quilters on this site and I am proud to accepted with such open arms!!!!! Jackie

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Judy L, great topic and great questions.

I can honestly say that when I first started looking at machines I was frightened by the price and the commitment. I looked for two years before even buying mine. What finally did convince me though was the little speech from APQS about how you can pay for your machine in a year by doing just a few quilts month. I had checked and knew that there were a few other quilters in our area. They were both backlogged by 6 weeks or more (or so they said). When the machine came up for sale I had to think hard about whether to buy it or not. I think it took us about 3 months to decided that I could do it.

Within 3 months of my machine arriving at my house the LQS opened in town. I went right down and made a deal with her for quilt referrals. The other popular quilter in the area was also getting business there. That quilter moved about 4 months later, so I figured the business would be mine. Well that hasn't happened.

I have had nothing but compliments from the customers whose quilts I have done, but no return business yet.

I felt pretty positive when I left the quilt shop in Jackson, after leaving the sample piece and brochures. Still no phone calls.

I have not given up yet, but I have been given a deadline of the end of September by my husband. Since that deadline was given I have gotten a few customer quilts in. These came through the mail from the Nashville area. I am hoping that doing those quilts will lead to more business, perhaps through word of mouth.

I got my machine 13 months ago. I paid $5500 for it, and it will be paid off by the middle of September. The money to pay it back has not come from quilting, but from my paycheck. After the machine is paid off I will have to sit down with my husband and talk about keeping it, even though I'm not making money.

I never planned to be able to support myself from quilting right away, but I had hoped that in 5 years I would have enough quilting business to find a part time job and make up the difference in dollars with quilting business.

The only advice I would give to anybody borrowing money to buy a machine is to make sure you have the extra income in your household budget to make the payments, and don't believe all the sales pitch about paying your machine off in one year with customer quilts.

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Wow thanks for the wonderful words. I must say that I didn't realize anyone was really paying attention to me. lol

With all the things being said it is important to point out some realities of my quilting adventure.

Before purchasing I warned my family that I would be devoting all my spare time over the next year and a half to quilting and that I would need their patience and help.


1. MY house is a mess. Of course we are packing.

2. I haven't cooked one meal since my Millie arrived or even looked at the Dishwasher or Clothes. My husband has been doing it all.

3. My daughter came over the other day and brought sandwiches to the quilt room just to have some time with me. She kinda Knew the odds of getting me out of the room were pretty low.

4. I need clothes but Hey who has time to shop. '

5. I am very fortunate that I can take things to do at work. I pin my quilts and backings at work and I do all my hand binding at work. I also cut fabric on nights and do my quilting business paperwork on my laptop on nights. Days is busier and so I usually just pinning or hand sewing.

6. Once in a while I do stop to add a touch to the house as my husband tends to stack the finished laundry instead of putting it away. I'm working on getting him to do that as well. lol

7. He leaves tomorrow on a job for over a month so I will have some added chores. That will be easy as I love Milk and PJ sandwiches. No mess to clean. lol

8. I do work really hard and get too little sleep ( except a Cat nap when no one is looking on night job. lol) I know that it will pay off and I will be able to leave my DAY JOB soon. I have only made alittle over $6000 quilting this year but that's not bad for a beginner who quilts only a fourth of her available time. My day/night job affords me about 10 days off a month to quilt. I use this time to CATCH up so to speak.

8. Everyone works at their own pace and for each of us that may be different.

9. My husband says I am an EXAUSTING PERSON to live with. He is my balance as he always keep a realistic approach to life. He is a matter of fact person. This helps keep me in check. Basically he is never wrong in his opinion and It perfectly fine by me to let him be right. lol

10. I'm going to quilt and that is that. Those around me can support me or go find something else to do. I'm going to quilt. I have given alot to my family over the years and I feel it is my turn. Again I'm stubborn and hard headed but I have good intentions all the time. They see I am serious and now come peak in my room to see what I'm working on just to say it looks really good. Even my daughter who will soon be 20 has begun to comment. I would give a million if she showed an interest. I couldn't buy her a machine fast enough. I'm going to keep trying to tickle her curiosity. lol One quilt and maybe she will be hooked too. Now that would be a dream come true. Imagine having this to share with my favorite person in the world.

Again thanks everyone. Good luck to those of you who have considered giving up. My advice is to love alot and forget about the things that really don't matter. Like keeping up with anyone else. Respect your limitations and enjoy the talent no matter how big or small that God has given you. Let go of all the Little things that take up big spaces in your life and focus on what is really important. You will feel rich on the inside which is more important than looking rich on the outside.


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Guest Linda S

Judy L and I hooked up on this board when I first ordered my machine. I asked a million questions a day and she was here to help me. Unlike most of you, I have no husband, so the dishes are piled in the sink, the laundry is in a folded pile on my coffee table right now, and the house is in desperate need of being vacuumed! I've just come down from my studio where I have been (except for a short lunch break since 8:00 this morning. It's 9:15 p.m. I do have a day job that I need to work at for 3 more years until I can collect my pension. Then I will quilt full time. I bought my machine with a home equity loan, knowing that I could make the payments with my day job, but let me tell you, the quilting income really helps out. Also, I use a lot of that income to go to shows. I cannot stress enough the importance of going to shows and taking classes. I did pretty well with the machine when I first got it, for basic quilting stuff, but classes pushed me into trying things I was just sure I would never be able to do -- you know what? I CAN do them! You've gotta want this badly, and you have to work at it, AND you DO have to advertise and get yourself out there. Sure, there are areas of the country where word of mouth is probably enough, but most of us don't live there. If I can do it, you certainly can.


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I was fortunate enough to have a husband who encouraged my getting a machine and paid for the thing. I " think" I would like more customers but when they call I think to myself, egads, now I have to do something!! I don't have a business plan other than finishing a quilt when it arrives at my door. I really enjoy quilting but honestly, I'd be happy doing charity quilts because to me its just playing and experimenting. I have probably spent more than I will ever get in return but what the hell, it's a great hobby!!

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I also have a DH who supports the house, most of my expenses, etc. The machine payments are made by Me, so I made sure I had a business plan. I took the classes with the SBA. I am great at marketing, but not at record keeping. I do not try to backlog 50 quilts, I do about 6 at a time, and do the best I can with the ones I have. I want them to be nice, not fast. I don't worry about the "hourly rate" I made, because I'm not supporting the house. I've not considered any of the computerized gizmo's (my DH has, though) and I'm developing my business in response the the fact that I have wayyyy too much competition in my area. The longarmers do not communicate amongst themselves...it more dog-eat-dog here.

I wouldn't be happy doing anything else, so for "me and my Millie" we are happy, thank you!


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I bought my Millie last September and I work for about 3 cents an hour. I do it because I love it and it challenges me. I work full-time, live alone and I have to do all that comes with owning a home and being a grandmother of 6. I didn't think I would ever get any business either, but I never stop looking.

How I started getting customers: I worked in an office building where another business was having a raffle and it was a quilt! My friend asked who quilted it. She then mentioned that there was someone in her office that had a longarm. This woman then asked for a brochure. I printed out some brochure and marched over to that persons office and handed them to her. Ok it took a while, but one of the woman happens to work one night a week in a LQS and asked me to quilt a baby quilt for her. (Later I learned that it was her aunt that quilted that raffle quilt, but she lives in another state). I'm not all that confident in my work, but after MQX I decided to let loose so I went for it and did a full custom on one of her quilts. Well she brought it into the shop and now I'm just keeping up with the work.

So my advise here is never stop talking it up you never know who is going to hear and how that connection is going to be made. My daughter owns a food business ( www.deliciousmadesimple.com) for people who don't have time to cook. She overheard one woman mention that she didn't have time to cook because all she wanted to do was quilt. So my DD mentioned that her mother has a LA....well you get the rest.

I didn't have a business plan, just a passion. And if it wasn't for chat groups and web links, I don't think I would have gotten this far. So love it, learn it, and live it, and do what makes you happy.



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I cannot begin to thank all of you who have been so gracious to post HONEST comments here. When we purchased our Millenium I knew it was going to be awhile before I could even think about customers or making the payments, etc. My DH said (then) it is okay, I will take a second job to make the payments until you can take them over. we took out an equity loan to buy the Millie and soon a CQ and do some remodeling. The best laid plans of man are not always completed to our desires. My husband go hurt so our budget for remodel went out the window, his second job fell through and I am now working more hours at work to make the payments, I still don't have my machine up and running, and all the money I had put aside to go to Innovations, has been spent on the "shop" and now I have to work those days to make my payment. but I am still so full of excitement and anticipation of being able to someday make this go. For now I am just going to focus on becoming familiar with my machine and good enough to find business.

God is so faithful though. I ran into a friend I haven't seen in 10 years at the grocery store. She quilts strictly for charity and is going to let me practice on her charity quilts. Talk about a blessing! WOW. then I came home and opened up this chat and it was such a confirmation to what I have been knowing, that this will not be fast and easy but long and hard but oh so worth it.

Now if I can just get my DH to back off of me. He thinks I should be able to make money right away and is really pressuring me. He is such a wonderful man and has so many good qualitites, but his attitude could really take my joy of quilting away if I let it. I don't want to be a slave to this but to find my completion in my long arm.

I have said it before and I will say it again, you all make this doable and without the support and encouragement from each other, I would feel all alone. so thank you for being honest and for just being friends.

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My favorite getting business story (stop me if you've heard this before, lol) is when I dropped my dog at the groomers. The gal asked me where I could be reached, and I gave her one of my cards. I told her I would be "in my studio" ( I just love saying that!) She told me her grandma had made a bunch of quilts, but they were just tops, and could I help her finish them? I tried to be casual "Why sure, give me a call and we'll take a look at them" I have quilted 6 of them and there are still a few left. She has told everyone in the office, and I have gotten other quilts from customers of hers! So talk it up! Smile when you say "I'm a professional quilter!" Who wouldn't want to be???

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Caron - You are so right! Have fun with it!

I as well am blessed with a husband who pays the bills and my machine is

paid off (due to a $$ settlement from when an idiot hit him while he was

on his motorcycle) and I am a stay-at-home mom. I cook and clean and do

all of the shopping, but this allows me to go to town and stop in at the

quilt shops and meet with customers and such. It's all good!

My girls will turn 10 and 6 this month and next. The little one will be in

school now full days, 5 days a week - YES!!!!!!! Time for me to work, work

and work!

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Hi all.

I bought my LA last fall. I didn't plan to buy a LA for at least 5 more years. My plan was to buy a longarm in about 5 years, start a small business in my home to bring in some extra income to invest for retirement. But God saw otherwise and provided the financing and customers to start my business earlier than I planned.

I first started doing research and looking at longarms August of last year at the Iowa State fair. Drove a Nolting and hated it. Drove a Gammill and hated it. Drove a Millenium, loved it and purchased it. The machine was delivered and setup a few months later.

Since then its been a whirlwind of many classes, quilts for customers and missionary quilts for my church. Since I work a full time job, play a keyboard in an orchestra and band, I don't have much time leftover for quilting. It gets challenging sometimes to find the time to get quilts done for customers and still get some sleep.

My business plan was to make enough the first year to make payments and become profitable by the third year. I'm definitely not profitable yet, but I have more than met my plan for the first year. Right now I have a backlog of 28 quilts and a growing waiting list. All of them came to my by reference from current customers.

I've had off and on problems with my machine since December. It's been extremely frustrating at times. More than once, I've just thrown up my hands in frustration and walked away. Other times its been a few tears and lots of frogging. In spite of the problems, I haven't once regretted my purchase or thought about quitting.

BTW - A little plug for APQS customer service -- Mark has been helping me for awhile now to figure the problems. The service at APQS is absolutely fantastic. Mark has been more than patient with me while we are trying to find and fix the problem. Big, big kudos to Mark!!

My getting business story --

Several months ago I as at a LQS purchasing some fabric and asked the manager who quilted their samples for the store. She said they didn't have anyone at the moment. Needless to say, it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. One thing led to another and now I quilt samples for the store. It's great advertisement. Whenever I'm in the store and make it known that I do quilting, I always get asked if I'm the one that quilted the samples. Because of those samples I also quilt for several employees and customers of the store on a regular basis. I did a quilt recently for one of the employees. She told me the quilt was going to be in a show and to make it extra special. I went all out on the quilt and delivered it to her at the store on a Saturday. The quilt was shown to customers in the store the rest of the day. From that quilt alone I received 3 new customers and a total of 10 more quilts that are now on my waiting list.

For me the key to getting more customers was to get my work out where it could be seen. This, along with word of mouth, has brought in more quilts than anything else.


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That's a good story. One of the things I ask of my LQS is to save the very Best Customers for me. I know that there are a few other longarmers in the area and I do not wish to have 30 quilts hanging in my studio at any time. Maybe soon but not now. I try to make sure I stay within 8 at any time. So far most of the customers that I have had do not mind spending more and I get to build on my skills in freehand and custom. The other day the LQS had 6 more so I am happy just doing these for now and of course my return customers of which I have about 10. She asked me the other day if I was ready to increase my load and I stated not until after the 1st of the year. So with that said I know that some quilts are going to other quilters and I'm ok with that. I love getting the NO PROBLEM WITH COST customers that usually are just thrilled if I make all the decisions. This keeps the pressure down and allows me to try new techniques with each quilt. By the years end hopfully I will have conquered a few more techniques and become a better quilter before I announce myself completely. Also I have many projects of my own that I want to complete as well. I would really like to compete next year and so I need to get my ducks in a row for that also. I feel very blessed that the LQS have been very generous and helpful to me. They respect the pace I want to take this and are simply waiting for me to say the Words "GIVE ME MORE". lol Also I have two class plans finished and working on the third and I'm very excited about this as well. More time to piece will make me very happy.

This is just the most wonderful and fullfilling thing I have ever done. I just love all of you to pieces. You are all just terrific and incredibly talented. I want as much as possible to rub off on me. lolol

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Starting a business is not easy, and no one said that it would be, although "they" did say that once people found out you have a quilting machine they will be lined up out your door. That is not really true and I did not believe it would be.

I don't want to be tagged a complainer. It has been difficult getting started and this forum has been a great place to vent, and get ideas. We have a lot of excellent quilters in our area and I would love to be as talented as they are, and hope to be talented in my own way some day.

Confidence is a huge thing for me - always has been - I am working on not being too critical and learning from my mistakes. I am a nervous wreck when someone comes to pick up their quilt for the first time - so afraid that I did it wrong....the fabric is expensive and the time and effort that the piecer put into their project is huge. I don't want to ruin it, I want to enhance it. However, when they call me to do their second or third quilt - that is a boost in the old self esteem. And when someone calls and says that one of my customer's sent them my way....that's a hoot too.

It just takes time to build a customer base. You must do your homework and check to see how backed up other quilters are. You also might want to check to see how involved they are in their guilds and organizations. That takes time away from quilting as well as working at a full time job. I have gained new customers becasue their regular quilter has had their quilts for a year - yet I see the machine quilter at guild meetings volunteering for everything. It is good to be involved, but I would not want it to come between me and my customer relations.

I have been quilting now for 2 years. I now have between 20 and 25 quilt tops ready for quiliting, (some are for family-they count, just not critical) , so things are looking better. However, there are weeks that go by when I start getting caught up and the phone doesn't ring and I start getting worried. I have learned that things kind of go in cycles, so I need to take advantage of the down times and try to get my own projects done.

Thank you all for your input, ideas and for caring about new quilters. It is comforting to know you are out there.

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