Tell us about your business.My mom taught me how to quilt when I was in high school, but I didn't begin quilting professionally until 2012. I was pregnant with my second baby and I decided I to pursue the creative business I had always dreamed of -quilting. I began by opening up an Etsy store. The quilts sold out and since then I haven't been able to keep up. I'm inspired by the Midwest, folk art, antique textiles, pattern and contemporary art -mostly illustrators. I like creating within the constraint that naturally occurs in geometry, but I am inspired by color juxtaposition as well. I like how colors come forward and recede and how colors can vibrate next to each other. My business is currently small -just me. I am taking steps to expand, but my dream would be to create a cottage industry where all of the quilts are handmade locally and to source my materials locally as well -one of my goals as a maker is to contribute to a strong creative community. I want to pioneer this business model in my city.
What makes your business stand out?My background is in conceptual art and visual theory and because of this I have a unique to approach quilting. I studied Fine Art and Art Theory in college and moved onto Visual Theory in grad school at NYU. Then I moved back to WI. What I learned informs my process today, but it is juxtaposed against my roots - which are inherently rural. I grew up on a small farm on the outskirts of a town of 8,000 people in central Wisconsin. When I left, my goal was to distance myself from my rural roots and embrace art in the city. I liked the idea of art with a capital A and although I grew up with a mother who was constantly creating- quilts, rugs, preserves, barn quilts, etc. I didn't connect this drive with my own and I didn't see it as a creative outlet as I recognize it today. I finally came around to my personal vision as a maker in the years following grad school. My inspiration now comes from two places - traditional quilting and contemporary art.
What's the best business advice you've received?When I was deciding what I wanted to study in college, my uncle told me something that has always stuck with me - it was to make small decisions each day that would make me happy because all of the small decisions would eventually pave the way for big decisions and then those life-determining decisions would feel like a natural progression instead of a leap. I have kept that with me all these years and I have found that it has been true. I went to college for Fine Art, I continued on to complete my master's in Visual Theory, I wrote a book called Handmade Nation, I've traveled, I got married, I had children, we bought a house, I created my own business doing something I love to do -- it was really great advice.
Mark Your Calendar
NominationsJune 3–Aug. 29, 2014
Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.
JudgingJune 23–Sept. 9, 2014
Judges will select finalists throughout this period.Meet the judges
Online VotingSept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014
Vote for your favorite American makers.See the finalists
Winners AnnouncedOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
American Made EventNov. 7–8, 2014
Join us for our annual event in New York City.Buy tickets now