Small Business Learning, Volume 1

Small Business Learning
Small Business Learning

I have been working on this small business called The Confident Stitch for more than three years. The physical shop has been open for a year and a half, and the virtual shop has been open for almost a year.

I love it!

The main lesson I have learned is  I LOVE owning a fabric store.

But, it’s scary!

Everyone misquotes the adage from Field of Dreams: It isn’t “If you build it, THEY will come,” referring to an entire baseball team. It is “If you build it HE will come,” referring to Shoeless Joe Jackson.


If you are reading this, you likely know I have built it.

The Confident Stitch is a well-organized fabric shop and online store with personal service from friendly people who know a lot about fabric and sewing. I did market research before opening the shop to make sure TCS products and messages resonated with potential customers. Jane, Alyssa, and currently my daughter, Mairin, have done an amazing job helping me maintain the website, run the shop, write blog posts, keep the social media feed fresh, and help everyone who comes through the door and orders online. Bess, our amazing photographer, has made sure everything looks good on the website. And, Bonnie has been making tons of gorgeous samples for the shop and for blog posts.


And….[S]he has come.

Each ad I buy, blog post I sponsor, and email I send leads to a handful of new customers. I knew building the customer base in the brick-and-mortar shop would happen slowly, through word-of-mouth (the best way for a business to grow in Montana). I did not know that the online customer base would grow just as slowly and be just as dependent upon word-of-mouth. The best way for someone to discover the website is through what I call a “warm handoff” from a blogger. One blogger at a time. Luckily, I love building one-on-one relationships, so warm handoffs are one of the many fun parts of the job.


Looking forward….

I hope I have time to write another essay on lessons learned in a year. I really hope I am able to report turning a small profit through one relationship at a time!

12 thoughts on “Small Business Learning, Volume 1

  1. Alicia Key says:

    yes, a shop is hard work. I attempt to manage it all pretty much by myself. We’ve been online & brick & mortar 6 yrs. In our (me + hubby) shop, I longarm for the public, sell Brother machines, fabric, notions, patterns & machine embroidery stuf PLUS social media. I meet myself coming AND going! I hope to employ a “store manager” in the near future…Wish me luck!

  2. Diane Konen says:

    I can attest to the fact that everyone I have met there is helpful – and with me that can be time-consuming ! I am so glad I found d your shop.

  3. Katy Nygard says:

    Seeing your shop was like being in New York or San Francisco! I love all projects textile – garments, quilts, accessories. Your shop addresses all these in inspiring fashion. I met Jane, Alyssa and Kate who are passionate, skilled and kind.

  4. Roxann Burns says:

    I found your website this week from one of those warm handoffs. I wish I could remember which one. While I have not made a purchase yet, you carry some of the best products I use and the content on the site is deep. Keep doing what you’re doing and you could be a destination on-line store.


  5. Janet says:

    Your shop makes me smile. I’m so glad to have a garment (and more) fabric store so close. Your staff seems to be happy to “go the extra mile” for customers. Thank you!

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