What we are going to talk about today is the story of the founding and operation of Missouri Star Quilt Co. by Jenny Doan of Missouri, USA. Before the founding of the company, the Jenny family was in bankruptcy and had to rely on food vouchers to survive. Later, the housewife became a net red on YouTube because of the experience of sharing quilting, and then started the business step by step. Today, the family business has achieved considerable success. In 2015, it was named “Small Business of the Year” by the White House, and the town where the company is located has become a popular tourist destination.
Mississippi Star Quilting Company founder Jenny Duane
Make a hobby into a career
The Jenny family used to live in Greenfield, Central California, and her husband, Ron, is a mechanic at the local jam factory. When their younger son was diagnosed with lymphoma, the high cost of treatment forced Duane to file for bankruptcy protection. Fortunately, the younger son’s tumor was diagnosed as benign. In order to reduce the cost of living, they moved to Hamilton in 1995.
After moving, Ron found another job as a mechanic. Jenny, who did not go out to work, began to use time to pass the time. Quilting is a process of stitching various fabrics and inner cores in a side-by-side straight line or decorative pattern line. The bedding is more aesthetically pleasing and more durable.
At the beginning, after designing a quilted pattern of quilt, Jenny would go to the tailor shop and spend $80 to complete the contract. But the tailor was too procrastinating, and sometimes it took a year for a quilt to work. So, Jenny’s daughter, Sarah Galbraith, bought a computer quilting machine for a $36,000 installment and spent $24,000 to buy a closed antique shop. In the workshop, Jenny’s quilted shop opened like this. At the time, their estimate was that by processing the quilt on behalf of the person, the shop’s annual income could reach $40,000.
Jenny has a total of seven children. One of the boys, Alan Doan, is a computer genius who received her master’s degree at the age of 15. He initially worked at a university in Hawaii and later managed by the famous software company Symantec. The 2008 global financial crisis left him with a job and had to squeeze in a basement in Toronto with his friend David Mifsud. In 2008, in order to help his mother recruit customers, he and David made an e-commerce website.
In order to attract traffic to the site, Allen suggested that her mother take some quilting instructional videos and send them to YouTube. At the age of 60, Jenny was 60 years old. Her first reaction was, “YouTube, isn’t that the place where children share self-portrait videos?” When the first video was taken, Jenny was so nervous that she was smashed by the rope on the sewing machine. She broke her leg, but she started shooting again after only two days in bed.
At that time, the quilting teaching video was still blank on the Internet. In fact, the YouTube website was just opened for two or three years. “In those years, people like me were not on YouTube, but now it is already our learning center, and our video will stay there.” Jenny laughed. The hard work and even the pain of the broken leg were not in vain. Her video was a hit, and the order came from it.
Quilted fans who have watched the video often leave a message asking where to buy a certain fabric used by Jenny. Jenny originally planned to sell fabrics while helping people quilt, but in the US market, there will be 60 to 100 new fabrics every four months, and each fabric has 20 to 40 styles. She found that the fabrics were so refurbished and replaced quickly that there was no way to distribute them with her strength. Later, the salesman of the fabric manufacturer Moda Fabric passed by her tailor shop, so she came in and asked if she could sell the fabric and said that Moda Fabric could sell the whole fabric to zero. Jenny realized that this was a rare opportunity. She could purchase the goods in the smallest unit, and then cut the fabrics according to the quilt pattern of their own design and then sell them to the customer. After the consumer receives a small square of various fabrics needed to sew a quilt, watch the video operation. Today, 99% of Jenny’s videos have such pre-cut semi-finished quilts.
In 2012, Jenny took another store and offered herself an hourly salary of $7.45. In 2013, the star of this YouTube star earned $4 million a year, and fans began to come to the store to see her. As the business grew bigger and bigger, Allen moved home to maintain the website on a full-time basis. David, who holds the certificate of accounting, stayed in Toronto to take orders, and Sarah was the head of the business, responsible for fabric selection and personnel in Hamilton stores. management.
After the business expanded further, David persuaded his brother Mike to join the team as the chief financial officer. Mike previously worked as a credit risk analyst at Goldman Sachs’ Salt Lake City office, talking about giving up Goldman’s glamorous position to join the Missouri Star. He explained: “We are restarting a traditional industry.” The company loaned 3 million to the bank. US dollar, used for the acquisition and renovation of fabric store and restaurant storefront.
As sales continue to surge, the company’s marketing chain can’t hold on. “Everything was fumbled at the time.” David said that he had made a $1.4 million small business loan, and the company used the money to build a new warehouse. Although Allen specializes in the development of marketing software, the rushing orders and the parcels of goods that are too late to be delivered are still full of companies and warehouses. The fabric parcels are lost during transportation, and the slow delivery and lost parts make customers feel very dissatisfied. Later, the company established a customer service team of 20 people, and set up a conveyor belt between the warehouse and the delivery office, and the delivery and transportation efficiency improved.
By August 2016, the company’s full staff had been unable to keep up with the pace of business development for six days a week, and executives agreed that the management system should be adjusted. Allen, Sarah, and David formed the board of directors and appointed Mike as CEO. “Our family can always think of good ideas, but implementation is a big problem,” Allen said. After Mike took office, he further enriched the executive team. He used to be the chief financial officer of Morgan Stanley’s colleague Morgan and began to upgrade the company’s inventory tracking software system. Although hired by Goldman Sachs professionals to serve as executives, Missouri Star is basically a family business, except for the Jenny couple, many of their children, grandchildren, including the in-laws of each family work in the company, a total of 30 people.
Jenny’s teaching video
Online and offline
Today, nine years later, more than 500 videos uploaded by Jenny have been played more than 135 million times. The annual revenue of the online platform for quilting quilt fabrics has reached 40 million US dollars. Many fans who follow Jenny on YouTube want to see her, and there are 8,000 visitors who come to Hamilton in Missouri every month. This is a big number because the town has only 1,900 residents. The Missouri Star has become the largest employer in the region, employing 450 people.
These fans refer to Hamilton as “quilting Disneyland.” The Missouri Star Company has opened 12 quilt fabric stores in the area, each with its own product features, such as flowers, infants, batik boutiques. The company also opened two quilting experience centers, with the theme of wild west and pajamas. Quilting enthusiasts can spend $400 on tuition fees for four days of training sessions, learning how to design quilted quilts and pajamas, etc. The center provides free meals for students. This project is quite cost-effective, because students will spend hundreds of dollars in fabric stores in addition to tuition fees. In order to meet the needs of the students, Missouri Star Company has opened three restaurants in the local area, and is very considerate to open a men’s leisure center for the gentlemen who accompany the wife to learn quilting. When the ladies go to class, they can play there. Billiards, watch TV sports games.
Jenny is very happy to communicate with fans, which is also a main purpose for quilting lovers to come to Hamilton. For example, Patty Painter from California, a 59-year-old public school IT expert, gathers with another seven quilted enthusiasts every Tuesday to discuss Jenny’s teaching video. Experience and exchange quilting techniques. She came to Hamilton with a pilgrimage, just to hug with Jenny. Of course, she also spent more than $500 on fabrics and tourist souvenirs, such as a $2.5 star plastic refrigerator sticker. It is “the American quilt town.”
Co-founder of Missouri Star Company, from left: Alan Duane, Sarah Galbraith, David Misford
Once, Jenny met an old woman in her shop. Seeing the old man’s hands very rough, she asked: “Is your hand still easy to sew?” “Even if my hand can’t hold a book, but I won’t give up reading, isn’t it?” The old man replied. This made Jenny deeply touched. “We will not give up what we love, and we will do it the way we like.” In this regard, national quilting expert Carmen Geddes agreed. “Previously When I first started to learn quilting, this craft has a lot of rules. But now everyone can do it the way they like. Making such a quilt requires 95% confidence and 5% skill. When we were young, grandma and grandmother It is very hard for us to lay a piece for the whole family and quilt the quilt. Now we are doing this for fun. I think the old people will be happy for us.”
At present, the revenue of Hamilton’s physical stores accounts for 10% of the total revenue of Missouri Star. The rest of the revenue comes from the sales of fabrics on the e-commerce platform. Most of the customer traffic comes from Jenny’s video page on YouTube. When you type “stitch quilt” in the YouTube search bar, the system automatically recommends the video taken by Duane. In a teaching video with a volume of 2.5 million, she said: “This is not a cutting-edge technology, and you don’t have to be perfect. Let’s take a look!” The result is that many people want to try it themselves after reading it, and then Go to her online store to buy quilting materials. At the same time, search engines have further improved the efficiency of drainage. When you search for keywords such as “How to make a quilt” on Google, it is easy to see Jenny’s popular teaching videos in search results. This kind of traffic conversion is quite smooth and natural.
There is no doubt that the Internet era has ushered in a watershed in the development of a remote enterprise like the Missouri Star Company. But what makes Jenny even more gratified is that her video has helped a lot of people, including women who have no time to go out to learn to quilt, and women who rarely go out because of their legs and feet. The number of students enrolled in the quilting school is limited. Those who can’t report the name don’t need to worry now. You can watch Jenny’s teaching video online, and you can watch it repeatedly without knowing it. “You know, you are not just sewing a quilt. 80% of people actually use this to heal some psychological trauma. When you see that you have created a unique quilt, it is very healing. You know that someone is more happy when you like your work.”
Jenny and quilted lovers
According to Quilts Inc., a Houston-based franchise company, the quilt market in the United States is $3.7 billion. According to Mike’s estimate, the total amount of quilted products currently sold through e-commerce platforms is only about 200 million US dollars. Obviously, Missouri Star’s online business still has a lot of room for development. Currently, they are working to expand the scale of e-commerce and physical stores. The company also has five idle storefronts in Hamilton, including an old theatre where Jenny can present his quilting operations to the live and online audience.
In recent years, the Missouri Star has also organized many disaster relief fundraising activities by its subsidiaries. When they called for warmth for refugees who needed to be quilted, the company was quickly overwhelmed by more than 8,000 cotton quilts sent by the country. When the company packaged the quilts and sent them to charity organizations, they quickly received more than 4,000 quilts. At this time, exactly 4,000 children from Puerto Rico needed quilts, and the difficulties were solved. “Don’t feel that it is a mistake to sit in front of the sewing machine, in fact you are changing the world!” Jenny laughed.
Jenny Duane’s Quilted Store