Business Spotlight: Q&A with Trish Maxwell of Journey Quilt Company
Trish operates her bustling quilting business – Journey Quilt Company – out of Edmond, Oklahoma. She specializes in Mosaic T-shirt quilts. She says that this type of quilt features a unique custom layout that tells a story of the life of a person through their t-shirts. She loves celebrating today’s adventures as tomorrow’s heirlooms. We sat down with Trish to find out more about her business and what advice she might give to someone considering a machine quilting business.
How did you get into quilting for other people?
My quilting career began accidentally. Around 2007, I had friend a who asked me to make t-shirt quilts for her kids. It wasn’t long before word got out that I was the local t-shirt quilt lady. After a lot of stitch-in-the-ditch quilting, I decided a longarm was in my future. Five years ago, I made the jump, opened my quilt shop, and became a full-time custom t-shirt quilt maker and quilter.
What types of quilting do you do most often for your customers?
We are unique in that we create Mosaic T-shirt and Legacy Quilts in addition to quilting customer tops. In order to keep up with the demand, we only quilt edge-to-edge patterns. We do not compete with the many talented heirloom quilters in the area. We proudly maintain our reputation for simple patterns and fast turn-around. We call it “fun and done!”
What longarm machine do you use in your business and why did you choose it?
Our longarm is an APQS Freddie that we call fondly call Freeda. Freeda is equipped with a Quilt Path computerized quilting system. We selected APQS for two reasons: first, they are 100 percent American made; second, they are known for their durability. We put incredibly difficult combinations of fabrics into our quilts and Freeda handles them with ease.
What is your favorite batting and thread?
For simplicity, we chose to use only one batting and thread: Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 and Superior So Fine 50.
What is your favorite ruler or gadget at the moment?
Wallie! We love our “electric seam rippers” by Wahl. Seriously, we all know it’s a hair trimmer, but it works beautifully as a seam ripper, too!
What are the top three pantograph patterns that you use for your customers?
Our free-motion patterns used for the Mosaic T-shirt and Legacy Quilts are meander, loops and dogbone. Computerized patterns that are most popular are organic waves, chicken wire and meander with stars.
What percentage of your customers are local and what percentage are by mail?
Our customers are 98 percent local. We happily accept quilts that are shipped to us but, honestly, I prefer getting to know my customers face-to-face.
Describe your longarm studio and how you organize it.
We have a retail space that is divided between the showroom and studio. The showroom is 1,000 square feet and has our customer counter space along with demo quilts and pillows on display. We have a carpet display rack that we use to hang our customers’ quilts until ready for pickup. Our studio side is 2,500 square feet. It holds five, 6 feet by 9 feet assembly tables and one binding station. One additional table is dedicated to our quilters for use in layout before quilting and trimming/squaring after quilting.
Do you use an accounting software of some sort to keep track of your invoices?
We have created in-house forms for keeping track of client information and details. We use Square for invoicing and payments.
What is the best thing about quilting for others?
Seeing the never-ending creativity of our customers! Every day, something new and wonderful comes in that makes us “ooh” and “ahh!’ Sometimes we surprise our customers, as well. The most common a-ha moment is when we tell people we don’t use stabilizer to back our t-shirts.
What is a downside to quilting for others?
I can’t actually remember the last time I quilted something for myself!
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting a longarm quilting business?
Take an advanced maintenance class for your longarm. Even if you have someone else assist you with maintenance, knowing your machine inside and out will greatly increase your confidence as a quilter.
What do you wish you knew now about running your business that you didn’t know before?
A good accountant is worth every penny. Let them do what they do best so that you can do what you do best.
What is something you wish you had in your longarm studio to make things easier?
More space, of course! We are now in our third location due to growth. Each time we move, it’s hard to imagine filling up all the new space. Every two years, we’re ready to expand again!