This week, we present our PEIBWA Member Faith LeClair, from Sew Blessed Quilters.
Name of Business: Sew Blessed Quilters
What kind of work did you do in the past and what inspired you to start your own business?
I have been in the fabric business for all of my career. I started out doing drapes at Nicholson Interiors when my son went to school and from there I opened a custom drapery business out of my home. In the early 2000 I started working at Bargain Fabrics as their manager and when they decided to close down in 2016 I took the plunge and opened up a quilt shop. I decided to renovate my garage and opened up in Jan. of 2017 with a small selection of fabrics. In 2019 it expanded to an additional room in my home and in Jan. 2022 we moved to a store front location at the Trailside Plaza in Kensington.
How long have you owned your business?
I opened up on January 9th, 2017 in the middle of a snow storm.
What have your challenges been? How did you overcome them?
I have had many challenges over the past 5 years from construction, heating, to working with fabric suppliers and trying to get supplies during covid times. I was lucky enough that I had worked with a few of my suppliers when I worked at Bargain Fabrics so I already had a working relationship with the ones I continue to use today. I have worked 24/7 to build up the business and my inventory and this Jan. on my 5th birthday we opened up in our new location at the Trailside Plaza in Kensington. It was a big leap to open up here but it has been a very positive experience. Even though I was only a mile away from here there are so many people who have come in that did not know that I had been at the other end of town. One of my biggest struggles so far is advertising and deciding where to put your advertising budget. I worked with your organization last year and I was able to develop a web page to advertise my quilts and hopefully one day I will be able to add onto it.
What have your successes been?
I have grown from my garage, to my garage plus half my house and now I have opened up in a new 1650 square foot location. This new location has made it possible for me to hire a couple of part time employees. Having people to run the store allows me to be able to offer more classes, which is what I love. We run classes in the store a couple days a week and Wed evening with most classes being filled.
Any unexpected surprises?
The hardest thing about opening my own business is learning how to develop a thick skin. It is a hard process from the mental, physical and emotional exhaustion, to the days when you feel you can't go on any longer. Each day has its share of highs and lows and it is hard to find a balance between each of them. The joy on peoples faces when they find the perfect piece of fabric to make their quilt with, to the disappointments that comes with having to make hard decisions so your business can grow, but all in all it is a great way to spend your day surrounded with pretty colors, fabrics and endless possibilities.
What services does your business provide?
I sell cottons, flannels, batiks and all the notions to create your quilts or other projects you are making. We do quilting classes to help you learn about different quilt techniques. I have started having quilt retreats at Our Lady of Hope retreat center, which have been a great success. I think one of the things I have found through this whole process is how much joy quilters find sewing with other quilters. The friendships that have formed that will last through the rest of their lives. Covid has left us all pretty beat up but you can always find a smile and a pick me up from your quilting friends. We have donated to some amazing organizations over the past five years, The Christmas Tree of Hope, The Kensington Fire Department, Life House and the Dementia unit in Summerside. We have also contributed to some local fundraisers for some people who could use a helping hand.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
I try to keep my prices as low as I can to make it as economical as possible for new quilters to try their hand at quilting. I am available most days for advice if someone is feeling stuck with their projects. I also have a strong following with our quilting classes and nothing makes me happier than seeing the smiles on their faces when they finish a project that they are especially proud of. With covid there has been a struggle finding spaces for our classes but we have made it through this far and I couldn't be happier with the progress everyone has made.
What areas do you serve?
I serve the entire Island and many tourists during the summer months.
How can people contact you?