Join us for another behind-the-scenes peek at an inspirational crafting retailer that we’ve had the pleasure to meet through Craftsy Connect. This week we were lucky to talk with Rosebud's Cottage owner Roseann Kermes, about the challenges and triumphs of her non-traditional quilt shop in Minnesota, as well as changes she's made since opening, and her fun quilt retreats!
What inspired you to open your own shop in White Bear Lake, Minnesota?
I've had my store for over 15 years. When the store I taught at for a long time closed, students asked me to continue teaching the projects they loved. I was known in the area for teaching and designing soft craft projects, quilts, as well as decorative painting, through my design business, Rosebud's Cottage. I found studio space and continued to teach there, moving into larger spaces as my store grew. I love to show people how to develop new skills and am always excited when they become successful; that's the main reason I opened.
What was the biggest challenge to getting started?
As with any new store, finding financing was the biggest hurdle. Banks aren't always willing to risk new ventures so I used money that I had saved from my design business to launch. I think the other challenge was learning to be brave. Each time I decided to expand my business or needed to make a big decision, I carefully thought out the pros and cons, and then when I was sure my decision was right, I just leaped into the next phase. Fear of the unknown holds back so many people.
What makes your shop unique?
I refer to my store as a non-traditional quilt store. While I carry fabric and supplies for quilting, the Cottage is also known for good quality hand-dyed wool that I buy from a variety of dyers in the Midwest. I know how hard it is to find interesting embellishments, so I shop a variety of markets to find unusual pieces that customers can add to their projects. Deep down, I'm a crafter at heart and want to offer creative components that allows everyone to have their own unique style.
How would you describe the style of fabrics and projects in your shop?
Initially, my store began with a primitive folk art look. It still has a lot of those features, only not so dark any more. My folk art pieces are a little brighter now. And even though I carry a lot of homespun, I tend to follow the seasons with the other fabric I bring in - getting a little lighter as we move toward Spring and a little darker as we head into Fall. I'm very in tune with nature's calendar and so are my customers. I like to encourage projects that people can get done quickly, while still enjoying the creative process. With that in mind, we kit a lot of table runners, wall hangings, or wool projects. Many of our wool kits are pre-cut on a Sizzix or AccuCut die cutting machine.
What have you learned about your customers that you didn't expect?
I think it's always been a surprise to me how much my customers care about me as a person, not just the store. They are always there to celebrate with me when something fantastic happens, like when the Cottage was picked for Better Homes and Gardens Quilt Sampler magazine, or when my son got married recently. But they have been there for me through some of the bad times, too. And I don't think I'll ever get used to them telling me that I inspire them. They inspire ME with their ability to create!
How did you first hear about Craftsy Connect?
Secretly, I knew a little bit about Craftsy Connect before it launched so I was very excited when Craftsy went public with it at International Quilt Market in Houston last October. As a writer for American Quilt Retailer, I had the opportunity to interview John Levisay at the Craft and Hobby Association trade show, shortly after Craftsy launched in June 2011. John indicated that Craftsy wanted to work with quilt shops to promote education.
*We really appreciate how involved Roseann was in helping to shape the program, as she was part of our small initial discussion group!
When you joined Craftsy Connect how were you hoping it would help you?
Mostly, I wanted more awareness for my store and with the number of people who take part in Crafty's classes, I knew there would be a lot of exposure.
How is Craftsy Connect working for you?
Education is a big deal to me! As part of the partner program, my customers can get support from Craftsy instructors and students around the world right within the platform- but my shop takes the extra step to tell our customers that if they get stuck on a step in a class they've purchased, they can come in and we'll help them figure it out; it's a chance to get them in the doors having fun and finding new products! It's part of my philosophy about wanting people to be successful. We've had a number of people take us up on that. I love that they are bringing their supply lists to our store to pick up what they need, too.
What do your customers like about the program?
They like the flexibility of the class schedule best. I know from my own life how hard it is to find time to take classes. It seems like there is always something that gets in the way. I'm taking several of the crochet classes and most of the time, I'm sitting on my bed at odd hours following along! Personally, I like that I can go back and review a step. Craftsy has such a wide range of classes; it's always interesting to see what my customers have signed up for.
Do you have any tips for other retailers on how to get the most out of their Craftsy Connect sales?
Keeping an open mind about online services, such as Craftsy, is important. I've always been a big fan of "If you can't beat them, join them." I can't possibly offer the number of classes Craftsy does, but I can work alongside Craftsy to make sure my customers get the best experience. Encouraging customers to bring in their Craftsy projects is great way to do this. Students love to show off their work. Remembering that education is at the heart of our business is important, no matter who it's coming from.
What's the biggest challenge you face today?
Customers shopping patterns have changed and it has been difficult to find what works best. Eighteen months ago, I decided to change my business. We aren't open every day but we do have set weekly hours. We've finally gotten our customers acclimated to our new schedule. We do more events and clubs than we do classes now and they are well attended. We toss in some whacky things too like our 12-12-12 sale on December 12 at 12 o'clock. It was a ton of fun! Ironically, not being open every day has actually made us busier!
Will you be doing anything new in your shop this year?
We started the new year off doing something new ... we held a Pinterest Party on New Year's Day! We sent out an invite right after Christmas and urged customers to rsvp to get a swag bag. We had 90 people there for our party ... they were doing make and take projects that we pulled from Pinterest as well as looking at samples we made from Pinterest boards. It was a great way to kick off the new year with some creativity. A few weeks ago we held our Muddy Sheep Wool Expo. We brought in wool vendors to sell hand dyed wool and demonstrate techniques, while those who attended the event had an opportunity to work on their own projects. In May, our customers will be able to go on a creativity tour through southern Minnesota with us. And even though it isn't new, we'll be taking our store back to the Minnesota State Fair in August for twelve days of fun. There are other things we'll be doing this year too ... I'm just not ready to spill the beans about them yet! Everyone can keep up with what we're doing on Facebook, people there usually get the news first.
Can you tell us about your quilt retreats?
For fifteen years, Rosebud's Cottage has hosted quilt retreats in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Our goal is to give everyone who attends an opportunity to leave home behind- to be able to dedicate an entire weekend to doing something they love. They can bring quilting, knitting, scrap booking, and stitching. Maybe a book to read, too. I want them to enjoy the time away and get reacquainted with their creative side! Our next retreat will be in November in Rochester, Minnesota. It's sort of going to be a 'grown-up' retreat ... complete with bellmen to take our supplies to our work room. You can find more information here.
Any advice for aspiring or current quilters?
Ask questions and be open to learning a variety of ways of doing things. There's always someone who will be willing to help you learn things. And don't give up. Sometimes it seems like you'll never get it but the truth is, most people do. It just takes time. Also don't compare your work to others work. Yours is just as good as anyone's work primarily because it was made my you. Enjoy the process and enjoy your success!
Share with us what you love about Rosebud's Cottage!
And follow them on Twitter and Pinterest. 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, March 27th to discover another great local crafting retailer!
With Craftsy Connect, our new partnership program, 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! Check with your favorite quilt or yarn shop to see if they’re a Craftsy Connect partner yet. If you’re a shop owner or would like to see your local shop participate in Craftsy Connect, email connect(at)craftsy(dot)com.