Shop Spotlight: Wild Child Arts and Quilt Shop
Today we’re lucky to take a behind-the-scenes peek at a crafting retailer that we’ve had the pleasure to meet through Craftsy Connect in our bi-weekly Shop Spotlight series. Meet Wild Child Art’s & Quilt Shop owner Rosemarie Handy, and learn about the challenges and triumphs of her art and quilt shop in Georgia, her advice for quilters, and her special clubs!
What inspired you to open your own quilting shop in Athens, Georgia?
Paul and I have always dreamed of owning an Art Gallery where classes were taught. But it was just that- a dream. He and I were far too busy in corporate America. Until the day came when my position was sent elsewhere. Paul looked at me and said, “Let’s do it.” I was thinking, no way; I have been offered a job. Then I thought God closes doors and opens windows. So I began the journey of opening Wild Child Arts.
First, we wanted it to be all about Georgia art. Second, we wanted our teachers to be active in the medium they taught. They didn’t have to be full time artists, but they did have to be active in their art. Third, we wanted to have classes that allowed families, couples, friends, and children to come and try different things without committing a lot of time or money, until they found the medium that spoke to their soul. Fourth, we wanted the classes to be fun but educational and no cookie cutting. In other words, if we were all painting the same painting, but you wanted a purple cow and I wanted a pink cow that would be totally acceptable. We wanted to make sure that we reached, exposed, explored and challenged the creative soul of everyone that came through our doors. So 9 months from that day I made the decision to walk through the window God opened, we opened Wild Child Arts, in Monroe Georgia. We made many great friends while in Monroe, had some awesome classes, workshops and gallery shows, but after 3 years we felt we needed a change. So we moved to Watkinsville, Georgia in September of 2011.
In Feb of 2012, I added the quilting division of Wild Child Arts and Quilting Arts. And wow, am I like a kid in a candy store or what! Quilters are fun and love color, many haven’t figured out what AWESOME artists they are, but they are learning. So we now offer quilting classes, painting on fabric, and creating your own fabric, in addition to our other classes.
I love to watch students create and I love to encourage people to try art. We all find time to do for others, but we forget that our souls need feeding. That is what Wild Child is about, feeding the soul. I encourage everyone to try an art class somewhere; it doesn’t have to be at Wild Child. But I promise you will find the healing power of art. Our store is about our passion, the arts. Our goal is to make sure that we reach, expose, explore and challenge the creative soul of everyone that walks through our doors.
What was the biggest challenge to getting started?
The economy, Getting the word out to artists of all mediums.
What makes your shop unique?
We teach all mediums, sell art, and sell supplies. As a quilter you can get your paints, canvas, brushes, dyes, and chems all here. If you always wanted to try quilting just sign up, or try pottery or even painting. Want a date night? We can do that too. On top of that, all of our artists have been active in their art 10 plus years.
How would you describe the style of fabrics and projects in your shop?
At Wild Child we try hard to have a varity of fabrics and projects. We have a fabric board that helps us pick fabric. We offer traditional to modern styles. We do tend to lean toward bright colors and we love batiks. We have classes and clubs from learning to hand quilt to modern quilting.
What have you learned about your customers that you didn’t expect?
I’ve learned a lot from my customers. For example, I learned to appliqué. Before I had a complete fear of it, but now I love it. Learned to do curves, still don’t like them. I have also learned that many quilters have a fear of picking colors, so together we are exploring color and exploring the artists in ourselves.
How did you first hear about Craftsy Connect?
I’ve used Craftsy since their launch a few years ago, so it was a natural progression to learn about Craftsy Connect.
When you joined Craftsy Connect how were you hoping it would help you?
I was hoping it would help get the word out about our store, and let my customers know about Craftsy’s interactive videos as another learning tool.
How is Craftsy Connect working for you?
My customers love it!
Do you have any tips for other retailers on how to get the most out of their Craftsy Connect sales?
Craftsy Connect provides you with all of the marketing tools you need, but you do have to put the tools to work. You can’t just put the banner on your website and expect people to use it. Spread the word all the time, in newsletters or on Facebook or Twitter. The custom store link and banners make this all so easy!
What’s the biggest challenge you face today?
The economy and getting the word out about my store. Letting people know that we have lots of material and many choices.
Will you be doing anything new in your shop this year?
Adding a longarm that can be rented. We’ll also be starting a dying club; so come learn to dye, once a month.
We love all of the clubs you offer. Can you share with us a bit about how you decided to begin them and what sorts of activities members can participate in?
I have found that people don’t mind committing to a once a month club (in terms of their time and money). So I asked around and we started our clubs. Our clubs work from a book and we are each making one block a month at the end of 12 months we will have a sampler. We sew together and enjoy the fellowship. It is a time for us to express our fears of modern/appliqué/ hand quilting/dogears….or our excitement. We learn together and from each other!
Any advice for aspiring or current quilters?
Support your local quilt shops, take classes, join clubs. Go to sew ins, explore, and have fun! No stress allowed; if you’re stressing, it’s work. Put it away and go for a walk.
Share with us what you love about Wild Child Arts and Quilt Shop!
And follow them on Facebook. Be sure not to miss our previous featured stores Shop Spotlight: CityCraft, Shop Spotlight: Quilting on the Square, and Shop Spotlight: Sweet Home Quilt Co. Come on back Wednesday, May 8th to discover another great local crafting retailer!
With Craftsy Connect you can purchase Craftsy classes through your local independent brick and mortar retailer and directly support them in doing so. Plus, you’ll get a coupon back to that shop to get your class supplies, so it’s a win-win for all! Find out if your favorite quilt or yarn shop is a Craftsy Connect partner yet. If you would like to see your local shop participate in Craftsy Connect or you’re a shop owner, email connect(at)craftsy(dot)com.