TopAnchor Quilting Tools is a woman-owned small business situated in the little town of Mannington, West Virginia with a population of about 2000. Quilting is a time-honored tradition here and I am blessed to have a business doing what I love – quilting and making pretty designs.
The idea for rotating templates came in early 2011 while I was helping my son & his family during a medical crisis. His wife, now fully recovered thank God, was in the hospital in critical condition. I dropped everything and flew to the west coast prepared to stay as long as I was needed. I assumed childcare and household duties, allowing my son to juggle his work schedule and the four-hour commute to and from the hospital. (Thankfully, a few months later she had recovered enough to return home and resume her normal activities.)
While the kids were in school I had time for sewing and naturally my thoughts turned to quilting. I had learned to quilt from adult relatives when I was quite young and continued off and on all my life. Our old favorite standby hand-quilting pattern is the much-loved Baptist Fan quilting design because of its beauty and ease of stitching by hand. Since I planned to purchase a longarm quilting machine when I returned home, I began to think of ways using a quilting machine to stitch the Baptist Fan pattern in a continuous line without cutting the thread and the idea for a new template took root.
After nearly two years in research and development, the patent for rotating templates was filed in December 2012 and our Baptist Fan template was finally introduced to the longarm quilting market.
God works in mysterious ways. If I had not had all that spare times on my hands while helping my son and his family, perhaps the original idea would never have occurred to me. I count this experience as a great blessing and give God the credit for healing my daughter-in-law and making their family whole again as well as the creation and success of TopAnchor Quilting Tools.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our website went live in late March 2014 and has done much to generate interest and sales. The Shopify software makes it easy to set up various products and maintain the site with a minimum of time working on it. It also provides functions like Blogs and Events help us keep the customers informed.
Social media (Yahoo! Groups, Facebook and Google) provided the earliest opportunities to introduce our first template to the public in December 2012 and it was very well received. Our first shipment of the Baptist Fan templates sold out in three weeks. Those sales gave us operating capital to produce other templates; three star templates and a feather wreath template were introduced in 2013, and a multishape template and two sizes of Dahlia templates were introduced in early 2014. Several more are ready for manufacture and in various stages of development.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
Apps that we've found the most helpful are Shopify's Order Printer, Product Reviews, Fraud Filter, Facebook Store, and Chimpified by MailChimp.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
I would advise new online store owners to work with only a few products at first until you learn how to use the chosen software to modify and update the website. Changes are easy to make with Shopify, but take time. Until you're sure of the layout that will work best, it's better to only make those modifications to only one or two items. When it's what you want, applying those parameters to all your products is simple.