We’ve watched with sadness the shuttering of quilt shops, fabric companies and quilt magazines in the past few years and fear that we haven’t seen the end of industry consolidation. Hearing yesterday that Modern Quilts Unlimited and Machine Quilting Unlimited are ceasing publication was disappointing indeed. As retail and publishing environments experience structural changes, owners will be forced to adjust their business models to survive and in some cases it just won’t be possible.
Our business model has always been different. We’ve never relied on advertising for our publications and have never had a large staff, high overhead, debt or investors to please. We started our business 19 years ago this week with our own savings in a studio in our home with just the two of us. Our only goal has been to design and make quilts that are expressive of the time in which we live. Along the way we added a studio manager, an e-commerce site, began designing fabrics, wrote six books, collaborated with a job training facility for developmentally disabled adults and became publishers as well. We’ve adopted a child, dealt with illness, moved and fostered 84 homeless animals.
Occasionally we’ve wondered if we should close our business and pursue more lucrative lines of work but we found our sweet spot when we took the risk to put what’s in our heads on paper. If you had been up at 6am on a hot summer Saturday morning last August you would have seen us dragging a leather sofa out of our van and onto a sidewalk adjacent to an industrial pallet yard in Chicago with 18-wheelers whizzing by just because we wanted the patina of a rusted iron door of the pallet yard in the shot for our Reclaimed quilt. If we’ve just had a foot of snow and it’s 5 degrees out, chances are that we’re packing up quilts to shoot for our calendar while the snow is fresh. No sane editor would ask her staff to refinish a beaten up table found in the alley because it’s the perfect curve for the cover shot of Modern Quilts Illustrated 8. Several years ago we abandoned the subscription model almost all magazines use in favor of just putting out the best possible publications we can and taking the time we need to do that. We believe that if we’re excited about every detail of our publications that you will sense that as you flip through the pages and that you will want more.
In the future we may offer digital versions of our publications and patterns. However, just as there will always be a place in the world for books, there will also be people who love flipping through an ad-free quilting magazine on high-quality paper with beautiful photos and detailed diagrams. It saddens us to lose talented colleagues and inspiring publications, but we take these industry consolidations as marching orders to put out only our best ideas and our most inspiring work. Right now we are working on a project for fall that’s been in the works for six years because we believe that our best work is yet to come. Sincere thanks to those of you who have supported us for the past 19 years. Without you, we wouldn’t be here. Onward!