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Meet Celine Perkins

In the Summer 2012 issue of The Professional Quilter, Eileen Doughty profiled Celine Perkins, pattern designer and owner of Perkins Dry Goods. Here’s an excerpt of the article:

How else do you advertise your business?

I advertise regularly in American Quilt Retailer. At Market, I do Schoolhouse workshop sessions and contribute to the FabShop Dinner as a table sponsor. (The Fabric Shop Network is a trade association for independent quilt and fabric retailers; they publish FabShop News. They have a dinner for shop owner members right before Market opens.) I’ve been a sponsor for several years, usually donating prize bags for two tables.

I have also participated as an organizer for two Booth Hop events at the 2010 Minneapolis and Kansas City Markets. Last fall in Houston, I joined in the Aurifil Booth Hop.

What have you experienced as a vendor at International Quilt Market?

I have been to 13 Markets since spring of 2005. I try to go to every one, for several reasons. At Market, you have a unique opportunity to meet your customers, face-to-face. You have fantastic networking and educational opportunities. You see what’s new and trending. You get inspired.

After driving back from Kansas City this year, I’m not convinced that it’s easier to drive than to fly! I fly to the majority of markets with my “booth in a bag.” I get a half-booth space (affordable and manageable for one person). I share hotel and car expenses with two or three other designers that I’ve gotten to know. We make a trip to Sam’s Club and Target for booth accessories when we all arrive. I also request that my booth be placed near these designers so we can help each other during the show.

Once I vended at International Quilt Festival in Chicago just to see what it was like. I found that it takes a lot of single pattern sales to pay for a booth!  That convinced me that the independent quilt shop is my primary customer and that Market is the best place to sell my product, not at a retail venue.

How do you split your time between all the various tasks of running your business?

That’s a really good question. My husband has always been impressed with how many plates I can keep in the air. I think this is kind of funny since I don’t always feel very organized, and sometimes I think being “over organized” is a defense mechanism. I make lists, sometimes too many, but lists nonetheless. And I am constantly thinking about what comes next.

My routine is to be in the office by 6:30 a.m. At about 8:30 a.m. I take a break (errands or the gym), then come back and work from 11:00 or so until 4:00 p.m., when I go to the post office or UPS. I work seven days a week, but go from one thing to the next, in and out of the studio, especially on weekends.

I try to stay connected with others in the quilt world, whether they are designer friends or shop owners. It can be very socially isolating to work for yourself in a one-man shop.

I see “Studio and Family Time” on your website schedule, for June and July. Do you have “rules” for keeping your business and personal lives separate (and sane)?

At dinner time, the computer is turned off, and the sewing machine is off-limits.

To relax, I go to the gym at least three times a week and walk with my husband after dinner every day that the weather allows. I lost a significant amount of weight in 2010-11 and through that process have learned to make my health more of a priority. It’s pretty amazing what happens when you get a little selfish with that kind of thing.

I also started knitting more seriously when a close friend opened a yarn shop. It’s a great excuse to spend time away from work with a good friend!

The “Studio and Family Time” came from a need to clear the calendar of business commitments during summer months. The kids are home from school, and there is usually a family vacation planned. My dad passed away a few years ago, and my mother now summers in Minneapolis. We spend a lot of time together. It’s a priority for me to be able to spend time with the family, and blocking out those months seemed like a good way to make that “public.”

If you would like to read more of Eileen’s article on Celine Perkins, it’s included in our Summer 2012 issue of The Professional Quilter and available to IAPQ members. The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

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