The opening day of Quilt Market features the Schoolhouse Series and TOS attendees had the opportunity (for a small extra fee) to join the quilt retailers. Tula Pink was the keynote speaker and she introduced her latest Homesewn fabric line which wouldn’t be in the shops until April 2020.
Of the 280 available sessions my favourites were the ones with the well-known names in the quilting industry – Lynette Anderson, Kathy Schmitz, Lisa Bongean and Marti Michell. Without attending the TOS conference, a non-existent (for now) quilting business like mine would not have been able to soak up the entrepreneurial expertise offered in the Schoolhouse series.
Threads of Success Conference
TOS officially opened with a drinks and nibbles networking event on the first evening of Quilt Market which takes over the entire facilities of the George R. Bush Conference Centre in downtown Houston. A chatty, business card swapping melee predominately attended by US quilters, three Canadian provinces were also represented at the conference along with a lone international delegate – me from the UK.
Breakfast the next morning was accompanied by a motivational keynote address with Ricky Brooks of RNK Distributing. His theme of “Turning Dreams into Success Stories One Stitch at a Time” was repeated over and over at the conference with inspiring presentations from the likes of Alex Anderson and Kimberley Einmo, both of whom are incredibly successful.
In the breakout sessions I learned about pattern writing, packaging for customers, photographing quilts and answering the question “Are you ready for a booth?” The Chief Visionary Officer from Martingale, Jennifer Keltner, outlined the procedure for approaching publishers in “Is writing a book right for you?” while Ebony Love gave the lowdown on independent publishing and distribution.
Creating a social media strategy, building a personal brand and developing a professional media kit were underlying suggestions for all delegates to consider before they should approach a publisher with a book idea, send art designs to fabric companies, launch online classes on YouTube or book on as a teacher at a quilt guild meeting.
On the fourth day of the conference TOS delegates met with a mentor who talked them through what they could expect on the Quilt Market floor. I was lucky enough to be paired with Tula Pink who showed her small group around her Homesewn booth.
As we handed out business cards and swapped quilting histories it became obvious to me that practically every person at the conference had a book idea, pattern design, fabric artwork or new template buried away in their bag that they wanted to share with someone firmly ensconced in the quilting industry. I know I did and if I could have had five minutes of Jennifer Keltner’s time she might have been able to give my book idea a little professional looksee and a few words of editorial advice that I could have used to improve my proposal. With 100 delegates I know this kind of personal contact is probably impossible.