Just Say “NO”…Nicely

The word “No”, it is surely one of the shortest words in the dictionary.  BUT  those in the quilting business must acquire the ability to say it confidently and clearly.  I know, we always hear “stay away from negative words”, but when it comes to customer contact, networking, and growing your business it is imperative to understand that it is okay to say “NO”…nicely.

In case some of you out there need some examples of when it’s appropriate (or alleviates your guilt) to share that word, here is a short list.

The Okay to “No” List (according to Lisa)

When asked to use red thread  on the top of the quilt, and white thread in the bobbin.

If you don’t think the color choice is going to work it’s okay to give your opinion.  I would hope customers would appreciate your input and concern for the outcome of their project.  You are only giving a suggestion, and if it helps you sleep better at night for heaven’s sake “Say what you gotta say!”…nicely.

When your customer feels that quilting their king size top should cost $60.00 to complete.

It is ultimately YOUR time, and what does YOUR time mean to you? It’s okay to kindly indicate the price YOU feel is appropriate (that’s if you want to quilt a king size top in the first place).  But if you know that the price and size aren’t to your liking kindly tell your customer no…nicely.

You are asked to give a lecture, very exciting.  The lecture is 5 hours away and they want you to speak for 2 hours, is it really that exciting?

Perhaps it’s considered exciting if you feel that after adding up all your expenses, and time taken to do the lecture you can find some margin of profit that would be beneficial to you.  Again there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling that the distance just doesn’t meet the criteria that makes it a worthwhile venture.  Decline the offer by saying no…nicely.

Your quilt has caught the eye of a client who asks to purchase you prize-winning quilt for $400.00 dollars.

This should really be an easy “no”.  I realize that it is very flattering when a customer, or fellow quilter, is in awe of what you have designed. It’s especially attractive in regards to a project that’s been highly recognized and given a pretty blue ribbon.  However, the love, and sweat you poured into this amazing piece is way beyond $400. 00 if not priceless.  So give careful consideration when tempted to part with the quilt that has won “Best In Show”; be mindful of the dollars you are going to receive in exchange for the art you have created and probably will never forget.  You needn’t respond like Wonder Woman (although you may want to), but humbly say thank you and no…nicely.

Uttering the word “no” is not easy, but it needs to be communicated.  When I say communicated, I mean spoken “nicely” to that particular individual.  It’s not what you say to those around you, but how you say it that matters.  Done in a polite, respectful manner, the word “no” can be a very beautiful, short, and sweet expression.

Do you have a hard time saying no? Or maybe you can’t even fathom telling someone “no”.  Please share your experience on how you have/haven’t come to terms with that forbidden one syllable word.

Spend VS. Save

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Saving a few pennies is not only something we all LIKE to do, but for most of us saving is a top priority.  I am highly aware of where every penny is going, there isn’t a piece of copper that isn’t accounted for in my life.  The orthodontist, car, mortgage, yadda, yadda, yadda the list goes.  That list goes on UNTIL you get to my six letter word….FABRIC!

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And BAM, just like that my money starts flying away!  I wouldn’t consider my self a high maintenance girl, however, I love good fabric.  That being said, the one thing I will not skimp on is the quality of my fabric.  You will  never find me purchasing material other than the high quality quilt shop fabric.  The hand of the fabric, the way it feels and drapes.  I could do an infomercial using a piece of really good fabric. There is nothing like QUALITY FABRIC for me.

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So the idea of saving pennies, nickels or dimes when it comes to quilting is not easy for me.  I wish I could say that I am as disciplined with my fabric money habits as I am in every other area of my life; but that is not the case.  Maybe not keeping a large stash is my saving grace.  Can you imagine if I had a HUGE stash now knowing I only commit to quality fabric?!  Holy piggy banks I’d be in big trouble!images-34

 

 

 

 

I need a few quilting friends  to make me feel better about my fabric habits.  Please share with me in what aspects of quilting do you find yourself saving and spending?

Now That We Are All Stuffed

 

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I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.  My wishes for you were that delicious family recipes were eaten, a breath was taken to push work thoughts aside, and most importantly moments with those dear to you were shared.

But now it is the start of the HUGE buying weekend..images-17

Retail – my way of life for many years.  Black Friday – a ginormous day for any merchant planning on coming out of the red.  This meant I geared up for that crazy day when one would witness mass chaos beginning at 7 a.m.  Have you ever seen grown adults have temper tantrums? Have you observed mothers negotiating over a product and willing to pay 5 times the sale price in order to walk out of the store with that “item of the year”.  One would think the day would pass by quickly, on the contrary it felt as though Black Friday was a never-ending day.  Restocking shelves, advising customers, and keeping a smile across my face was more than difficult. When I chose to leave the retail industry, Black Friday was one aspect of this profession that didn’t have me shedding a tear.

Black Friday, what to do?img_6895 So many choices and knowing I have an extra day added to my weekend is priceless.  What should I do? Is it a movie day, a quilting day, or do I consider venturing out to the mall?  Ah, the mall idea is a no go.  There aren’t sales HUGE enough for me to consider stepping into the Black Friday madness.  But a cup of tea and my laptop might have me online shopping just a bit.

Speaking of online sales:  **Don’t forget to take a peek at my 15% Holiday Sale today through Monday!

 

Tell me what you do the day after Black Friday.images-22 Do I have any brave Black Friday Shoppers out there? Or maybe some of you take a day to relax? The decisions are overwhelming aren’t they?

Quilting for Customers: “How To”

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Longwood Gardens Quilt  2010

Quilting for customers, yes this is a specialty that I was successful doing for approximately 10 and half years.  I loved it and quilted some 3000 quilts through this livelihood.  Are you considering expanding your quilting to the next level? If so, this is a wonderful way to make that goal a reality.

Trust is a HUGE word, and one of the best feeling in the world is when your customers embrace your talent, and depend on you to bring life and beauty to their quilt.  What does that feel like? I cannot imagine giving my quilts, which I consider my babies, to someone else.  Speaking for myself I pour my heart and soul into the quilting process and have no doubt it would be painful letting another individual take charge temporarily.  For me that’s one of the aspects of this profession that I find so rewarding, each piece is one of my client’s babies.

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All three of my boys… back in the day…

To Be or Not to Be: What about this business appeals to you? Is the idea that you simply love quilting or are you looking for additional income? These are two significant questions to consider.  For those individuals choosing to quilt as a hobby, kudos to you! I say quilt away and surround yourself with all the creativeness you can gather; but please be mindful of those that do quilt for monetary reasons.  Being a professional quilter becomes very challenging when a customer declares my cost expensive compared to that of Quinn Quilter.  What my customer does not realize is there is a difference between Quinn Quilter and Lisa Calle.  Quinn Quilter loves this craft as a hobby; Lisa Calle not only loves this trade but also has made a career out of quilting.  If you feel that this a business you are aspiring to become a part of then I can only offer this piece of advice; I quilt for the purpose of making both my clients and ME happy. I must remain true to the fact that this is a business and income for my family.  Therefore, the ability to lower my costs to meet the prices of those that are fortunate to quilt as a hobby is not something I can justify.  Yes, possess an attitude! If you have committed to making quilting a business then you are worthy of owning your quilting ideals,  methods AND prices.

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It’s All About the Money: Begin by setting an hourly wage that you feel will be advantageous of your time, and materials.  YOU need to be satisfied with the price you are charging, and obviously this might be different for everyone.  I am not a low-priced quilter, as a matter of fact I’m fairly certain that I may have ended up being the most expensive in my area.  However, I knew what I wanted to make monetarily; I was realistic that I had other responsibilities that also demanded my time.  I was comfortable putting those obligations aside in order to run my business AND I was also comfortable putting those considerations into my quilting price.

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The AH HA Moment: Retail and I have always been united, “Customers Come First” was my motto and I went out of my way to ensure my customers were more than satisfied.  Did I make everyone happy?  Heck no, I would never please everyone.  Boy, I definitely had my share of those clients that undoubtedly could not be appeased in any way possible. On those work days happy hour felt like it would never arrive!  Even enduring sweat and tears there were some partnerships that dissolved.  Quickly I would come to terms with the understanding that there were going to be professional relationships that would find me and my client parting ways…and Ah Ha… that’s okay.

Next Up: Mastering feathers, I always wanted to conquer this technique.  I could be found, pencil in hand, quietly doodling for hours and hours.  My dedication paid off and gradually I was feathering away!  Now did every customer love my new gift of feathering? No way, as I stated before there was, at least, that one customer who shuddered “Oh no I’m not fond of feathers”.  For the sake of feathers people quit bursting my bubble,  feathers are my thang!  My advice, don’t let anyone get in the way of your thang!

It Needs a Price Tag:  Well friends that is a post in and of itself!

Lisa