That Time My Business Failed and I Decided to Make Quilts Instead

Angela Holding a Stack of Quilts via

Angela with the Boho Squares Quilt via

This August, I finally realized that my business was failing. Not just “in a slump,” like I’ve been telling myself all year, but well and truly sinking. Sales have been down by a third, and August (usually our busiest month) was down by half. We’ve been covering our expenses with savings, thinking things would pick up over the summer. But the back-to-school rush has come and gone, along with most of our savings, and the business isn’t getting better. It’s time to call it.

I’m 48 years old and I’m starting over from scratch.

For the last three years, I’ve been running an online educational bookstore. Until this year, it was like a dream come true. My very own bookstore, working from home, caring for my special needs kids and having a life that included my work and my family. Everything was great. Until this year, all of a sudden, sales are down. Every month it’s a new low record, and not just for us. We’ve heard from others that they are suffering the same fate. At least one publisher in our niche is going out of business.

The thing is, books have small margins and small margins require volume. Without volume you can’t make enough to cover expenses, let alone take home pay. That volume, for me, is gone. I don’t know if it will come back when things change in the future, but I can’t sustain it while we’re waiting. Meanwhile, my kids need me. I started my family in my late 30s, I still have school-aged children at home. We homeschool so that I can accommodate their particular needs. I need work that I can do at home with them around.

Spring Scattered Squares Quilt via

Signing up for a business where I’m on the computer 8 hours a day isn’t going to work. Maybe in the future, when my kids are grown, but not now. Now I need to help support my family while also caring for them.

1000 quilts, starting now.

My solution? I’m making quilts. I’ve always loved to sew. I taught myself when I was 12 so that I could have a Gunne Sax dress (homemade was the only option my frugal mother would consider). At 18 a co-worker at the local fabric store taught me to quilt, and I’ve never looked back. Quilting has been my therapy and my joy. Quilting helped me make friends when I was new in town, quilting helped me helped me get through my Dad’s passing and now quilting is going to get me through this. I am going to make 1,000 quilts, starting now.

Finished Baby Quilts via

My whole family is helping on this new adventure. They help choose colors and fabrics, they help decide on bindings. Sometimes they even sew. They encourage me in the process of taking good photos, and they hold the quilts up so I can get just the right shot. (Watch for those little feet peeking out!). Along the way, I can give to people who need it most. Every 10th quilt will be donated (along with a picture book) to help children who are victims of sexual abuse.

It’s a new and terrifying journey, kind of like jumping off a cliff. But doing it feels right. It feels joyful. When I am quilting, my heart is filled with love for the people who will snuggle with the quilt when it’s done and that’s not a bad way to spend your afternoon in my opinion.

Love, Angela


This essay first appeared in Rural Magazine, October 4, 2017. It is reprinted here by permission. For more about Rural Magazine, see the Rural Magazine websiteor find them on Instagram.

Rural Magazine. Rural is the moment that the setting sun glides with a golden glow across the fading fields while the birds sing from the branches and the bugs buzz around your head. Rural is the bumps under the wheels of a bike traveling down a backcountry road. It’s in the marveling of the intricate craftsmanship of a bird’s nest and the unfurling of a fern. It’s for those whose heart is still enough to see the beauty all around them. Rural. Because your heart lives here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *