Patterns, Publishing, and Passion

Daniela Stout ’94 and her husband Rick always wanted to be entrepreneurs.

Once the pair noticed a growing trend in their community, they decided to capitalize on people’s niche passion for crafting.

Stout says of starting her Cozy Quilt Shop, “I had been quilting for a few years, loving the process and the people, when my husband and I noticed that there were a lot of quilters out there. Almost everyone knows someone who quilts. We noticed that, for some, the hobby was more like an obsession. We also noticed they loved buying new fabric, starting new projects, and often had more than one project going on at a time.”

“We decided the business we wanted to start would be a retail quilting supply shop, where we could service a growing segment of crafters. We opened in January of 2003, providing fabric, supplies, books, patterns, and inspiration for those who enjoy the hobby of quilting. Since I wanted to stay close to home to be close to our kids, we opened Cozy Quilt Shop seven minutes from our house.”

In a 4,500 sq. ft. space, their shop offers over 3,000 bolts of quilting fabric.

Located just east of downtown San Diego, the shop presents bi-monthly lectures, in which new techniques are demonstrated. They also host a coyly-named, in-store group called the “Strip Club” — in which members can learn about piecing together quilts with 2 1/2 inch strips of fabric.

As for the inspiration to start a “Strip Club,” Stout explains it as a marketing tactic.

“We learned pretty quickly that we would need something bold to bring in customers. There are over 20 independent quilt shops in San Diego County, so there are lots of choices in the vicinity. A Strip Club’ was just the head-turning, eye-catching event to run in an industry as pure and clean as quilting. If you don’t quilt, you may not know that often times the sewing process starts with cutting strips of fabric, sewing them together, and re-cutting to create the design.”

Soon after opening the shop, Stout started to write her own patterns to provide customers with unique reasons to buy and use fabric. The pattern-writing led to a whole new vertical in her business — publishing.

Once she mentioned her original patterns to other shops in the area, her peers asked to buy her patterns at wholesale prices. Thusly, she started Cozy Quilt Designs, the publishing arm of her business.

“We are actually known more for our publishing business than our quilt shop, as we sell our books to other shops and distributors domestically and internationally. Under Cozy Quilt Designs, we have over one hundred patterns, thirteen printed book titles, and a handful of acrylic cutting rulers.”

Stout graduated from CMC in 1994, as a Literature and History major. Her interests in quilting began right after graduation. “I started quilting as a stress reliever, when I ventured out into the real world. I bought a machine and a book and taught myself.”

In terms of how her small business has fared in the current recessionary economy, Stout says the shop is still growing, though at a slower pace. As for outsmarting economic challenges, she says, “In addition to the fabric side of the business, we also sell high-end sewing machines, and we wholesale our books, patterns, and rulers.”

“Even in tough economic times, people still want to enjoy the same stress relief as I sought out in my years after graduation. We strive to give that to them.”

How her alma mater affected her desire to be an entrepreneur, she says simply: “CMC helped give me the confidence to do it.”

“Not every decision we make is correct, but we have the guts to make them, and stick by them. We expanded after only a few years of being open. We printed and published our first book title, knowing we could at least sell the first print run. Each new step is scary, but I have the confidence to make it work.”