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48 Year Old Disabled Married Mom Seeks Quilting Business Startup Grant Funding

by Pamela Olds
(Spring Hill, TN, USA)

I am a 48-year-old disabled married woman with a 17-year-old son. We reside just south of Nashville in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

I'm looking for business startup grant funding to capitalize on my keen interest in quilting and my strong desire to so something gainful and purposeful.

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In 1990, I earned a Masters Degree in Curriculum Design and Development with an emphasis on technology. I've worked in industry, non-profits and public education.

In 2003, while moving into my 2nd grade classroom in Tracy Unified School District in Tracy, California, my L5/S1 disc burst.

In 2004, while receiving an epidural shot, my spine was injected with strep. By December 2004, I was admitted to the hospital because my body was starting to shut down.

I received a disc replacement and heavy antibiotics to attempt to stop the strep from destroying my body.

In January 2005, I needed to relearn how to walk. In February, my attorney won the right for me to attend the Functional Rehabilitation Program in Concord, CA.

I spent 6 weeks learning how to retrain my brain to function, while enduring constant pain in my lower back.

In July 2005, my husband was transferred to Tennessee.

During the winter months my back goes into spasms. My back starts to hurt in late November through March.

In 2004, my Social Security Disability benefits began.

Due to my back problems, I'm not able to hold a full-time job. I do volunteer at the Spring Hill Public Library.

I have been a quilter since the 1980s. During my spare time, I make quilts for injured soldiers.

My days are filled with pain that radiates down my legs. To relieve the pain, I need to be able to change positions frequently. I can only drive short distances, less than and hour or so before I need to change positions.

I do not take pain medications, instead I prefer to stretch and walk. When the spasms start, I use ice/heat. If that does not stop them, then I will take an anti-spasmodic prescription.

I've worked to supplement my SSDI. For the last two years, I've been a licensed substitute teacher in my local school district.

I also volunteer. I teach computer classes to Senior Citizens at my public library and beginning quilting classes.

I am seeking a business startup grant and advice on how to start a successful quilting business.

Where I live seems to be an ideal location. There are two very large quilting guilds in the Nashville metro area.

In addition to business grant funding, I'm seeking marketing and research advice on how to determine the viability of this type of enterprise in middle Tennessee.

The more rural areas have smaller guilds that are members of our state guild. I'm two hours from Knoxville, Chattanooga and Paducah, KY. Paducah is the "Mecca" for all quilters.

The American Quilter Society sponsors a 4-day quilting event in Paducah every year. I believe quilters could use this shop before or after a trip to Paducah. The quilters come to our quilt shops because each one is well known.

Our local quilt shops sponsor two "shop hops" each year. This shop would be added to that "hop."

Our area does not have a store where quilters can pay a fee and quilter her own quilts on a longarm quilting machine.

I've been researching businesses of this type on the Internet. Their main business is the rental of longarm quilting machine. They sell and train new users on these machines.

Like everything else, a longarm machine can be computerized, but most quilters want to design and guide the machine to quilt their own quilts.

The average price is $75 for training, $25 for a Quick Zip System and then $15 per hour to rent with a 3-hour minimum.

This business needs a large workspace, at least two longarm quilting machines, a classroom and a small shop for quilting supplies.

The shop would carry threads, batting, backings, patterns, needles, Quick Zip Systems, computers, phones, Internet access and a Web site.

Most of these businesses have at least one machine devoted to "special orders." A customer will send her quilt to the store with a request on what she wants, and an employee will quilt the quilt as requested. There will be a charge for this service. It is usually $.010 per inch of stitching.

Another service some of these stores offer is binding, consultation and how to design, mark and quilt a quilt class. These designs can be as simple as a grid to complex feathers, flowers, birds or anything you can think of to enhance a quilt.

I believe that with the right business startup grant funding, I could start such a business with a partner. Employees would be part-time, based on customer demand, skill set and machine reservations.

The best and least expensive long arm quilting machine on the market is INNOVA. This machine can handle all kinds of threads. ABM International in Texas produces it.

They manufacture machines for corporations. Their research department took a heavy-duty machine and scaled it down to make it work for the home quilter. They cost $8K - $12K per machine.

The computerization would be an additional $14K. In order to keep a distributor license, I would need to sell at least two machines per year.

I've tried all of the longarm machines on the market. This machine is the lightest machine, the best adjustable table and the ONLY machine that can handle heavy threads. (Heavy threads are used in art quilts and for embellishments, yet another income stream.)

Thank you for your consideration and assistance with my endeavor. Helping me get the business startup grant funding I need means so much to me.

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Aug 05, 2012
by: Dolores

Sounds like you have done your homework well. I do hope you have success with the funding grant for the quilting business. I am also a disabled quilter. Keep trying to realize your dream of a quilting shop. Dolores

Oct 09, 2011
Business Startup Grant Funding Advice
by: Don from Accessible.Org

Hi Pamela,

Your story will inspire every reader. You are disabled by pain yet able to rise above it so elegantly and eloquently.

An easy no cost way for you to start would be to contact the Small Business Development Center in Nashville about training starting in January.

The SBDC in Nashville is collaborating with a major supplier of Internet tools and services to help women and minorities start up their own online businesses.

Don't be turned off by the "online" part of this. In doing all the research and planning under the expert guidance of a "been there, done that" instructor, you'll gather all the information you need about starting up a quilting business whether offline or online.

Here are your action steps...

First, go to the address below to gather information about the business sponsorship program used by the SBDC.

Second, contact the SBDC in Nashville about the course starting in January.

Note that there is nothing to stop you from applying for a business sponsorship at in the meantime.

So there you go... solid business startup grant funding advice in a form you probably never expected!

All the best,
Don Coggan

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