Business Spotlight: Q&A with Needle Lil’ Love Quilting
When Nikara Wood faced mounting bills from her husband’s cancer diagnosis she turned to quilting for extra income. She purchased an APQS Lucey and formed Needle Lil’ Love Quilting in Vineyard, Utah. She hasn’t looked back since!
We connected with Nikara to get her thoughts about running a quilting business, including her insights about what she wished she would have known. Enjoy!
How did you get into quilting for other people?
I actually bought my APQS machine from my Mom who is an APQS dealer in Canada. When I bought my longarm three years ago I was at a crossroads in my life. My husband had recently been diagnosed with brain cancer, had immediate surgery and had to go to neuro-trauma rehab and then do cancer treatments. I was in university at the time and working a part-time job, as well as being a mother to three beautiful babies. When all of this came to light, I couldn’t keep up with school and work, so I ended up dropping my classes at university and then eventually my job in order to take care of my husband and our three children.
When we realized that disability wouldn’t quite cut it financially, I called my Mom, and just cried. I wasn’t sure how I could juggle what was being asked of me and have a job outside of our home. That phone call started the chain of events that lead to me having my very own longarm quilting machine.
I had my first customers within a week of having my machine and have grown to be consistently quilting for others in just over one year. It has been a huge blessing to me in that I am able to work around the crazy schedule that comes with having three kids and a husband with medical needs (he is doing great as of now and has had three stable scans! Yay!) I am so grateful for the opportunity this has been for me and for my family.
What types of quilting do most often for your customers?
I actually do a good combo of everything. The very first quilt I did was light custom work, and before ever having a quilt that was an edge to edge design, I did six custom quilts. I’m an all-in kind of person, and let me tell you, I jumped in with both feet!
What longarm machine do you use in your business and why did you choose it?
I have an APQS Lucey for my business with a 12-foot table and Quilt Path. I chose this machine because it would fit in the space that I had available, which at the time was my master bedroom. It also allowed me to maximize my ability to quilt for others.
What is your favorite batting?
I love Hobbs 80/20
What is your favorite thread?
I stick strictly to Glide thread with pre-wound magnet bobbins (time saver!)
What is your favorite ruler or gadget right now?
I love to use the Handi Versa Tool Ruler.
What are the top three pantograph patterns that you use for your customers?
The top three pantograph patterns I’ve used with my customers is Destiny, Mesmerized, and Diagonal Plaid.
What percentage of your customers are local and what percentage of folks mail you quilts? Which do you prefer?
I’d say about 95 percent of my customers are local and 5 percent are mail-in quilts. I don’t actually have a preference as I am just grateful that people are trusting me with their quilts. So anyway I get them, I’m happy with.
Describe your studio and how you organize your longarm studio.
My studio is currently in an unfinished basement. I have plans to finish it eventually, but we just moved in a few months ago and didn’t have time prior to moving in. However, I keep everything very neat and tidy and organized. I have two different carts right next to the machine, one has an apron over the side that holds all of my tools, rulers, pens, and scissors. I also keep my bobbins on the top portion of the cart. I am also able to keep everything from oil, screwdrivers, to intake forms on these carts. I have every inch of space used for organizing the quilts that are waiting to be quilted, to the finished quilts that need to be delivered, down to where my thread is stored and on display.
Do you use an accounting software of some sort to keep track of your invoices?
I actually am super old school and keep track on a Google spreadsheet that I have divided by quarters that is matched to my intake forms and receipts from customers. Don’t judge – I’m planning on switching to Quickbooks shortly.
What is the best thing about quilting for others?
I absolutely love bringing other people’s quilts to life. There is nothing better than seeing the reactions to the quilts that I do for others. I also love the friendships I have formed with my customers and have many lifelong customers and friends because of this business.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting a longarm quilting business?
Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and educate, educate, educate yourself.
What do you wish you knew now about running your business that you didn’t know before?
How to get business licenses’ in place as well as how to do the taxes for my own business. This has been a whole new world for me.
What is something you wish you had in your longarm studio to make things easier?
MORE WINDOWS! I love a big bright space and it would make taking pictures so much easier but that will be down the road for sure!
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about your business or about the machine quilting business?
Gratitude is a magnet for miracles. This entire process of owning a longarm quilting business, has allowed for more miracles to happen each day as I express my gratitude for the creativity and financial abundance this career has afforded me. I am grateful for customers who trust me and for the opportunity to have the freedom to work from home and set my own schedule. It has allowed me to stay employed and keep busy during a global pandemic. And as far as working with APQS, they have always had an incredible service team that helped me to get started and have helped me whenever I need a little extra guidance.