Spotlight: Jenny Doan, Missouri Star Quilt Company
Jenny Doan took a twinkle of an idea and grew her heartland quilt shop into a creative destination for any quilter with an internet connection. If you need instruction on just about any quilting technique, Jenny’s free tutorials on the Missouri Star Quilt Company’s YouTube channel will walk you through the process. Missouri Star’s extensive online store is now a major employer in Hamilton, MO, where it pays to know quilting!
Missouri Star Quilt Co. celebrated its 10th anniversary! Congratulations! What is the most memorable event on the journey of Missouri Star Quilt Co.?
It would be a different event for each of us, but for myself there isn’t one memory that necessarily stands out. Every day has something memorable and different. That’s what I love about what I do. Some days are tougher and some are filled with celebration, but each is an important step in our journey.
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Missouri Star Quilt Co. started as a family business and is now a major employer in Hamilton, MO. The business has evolved from primarily a brick-and-mortar store, to an online business. What is the one thing you wish someone had told you before you started?
Expect the unexpected! I had it in my mind that we would start a little hometown quilt shop, but life had different plans. It has all been such a wonderful surprise and the company has really taken on a life of its own.
What is your favorite part about what you do?
The creative part! I love coming up with ideas for new patterns and enjoying the process of seeing beautiful quilts come together from pure inspiration. It’s incredible to see what can be done with a needle and thread and a bit of fabric. It’s like magic!
Why do you think you’ve been so successful building the various parts of your business—
From the individual stores, the YouTube channel, books, patterns, online business, and more?
Because we’ve been genuine and we have an amazing leader at our helm. We’ve tried to make quilting easier for everyone. If people can see it, they can do it. We do our best to keep prices low and make supplies easy to find. We’ve taken something that’s traditionally been complex and made it simple. Quilting had been known as an elitist craft, but we’ve adapted it and made it accessible to everyone by taking away barriers to success.
Your tutorials on YouTube are helping quilters around the world learn new techniques and be inspired. Which is your personal favorite and why?
It’s the creation of the tutorials that’s my favorite. I don’t have a favorite quilt, they’re like my children. You can never pick one! I just love the creative process. Browse through all of the YouTube tutorials.
What is a typical day like for you?
I wake up and then I’m at the studio around 9am. I always get some sewing in. It’s nice to start my day behind a sewing machine. Then I go to meetings and spend time meeting people in town. Hopefully I get to stop for lunch! Then some nights I have trunk shows and some days I’m on the road visiting quilters in new places. So each day is an adventure!
Do you still make time to quilt and sew for your personal projects? How do you schedule your creative time? Do you schedule start and stop times? Or only when inspired?
Yes, I do schedule days to create. If I don’t, I miss it and then I find myself feeling less inspired. It’s important to take time to be creative, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day.
When you’re not quilting or working, what other interests do you have?
I also enjoy watercolor painting, gardening, renovating old houses, and genealogy. Researching family history is a great passion of mine, and, of course, I like to sew. I do more than sew quilts at home. I often make clothing and other fun projects.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?
I create things out of my comfort zone. So if I’m stuck on a sewing project, I start working on a painting project. I like to keep learning.
What is creativity to you? Do you consider yourself to be creative? Why or why not?
I consider myself to be very creative. The creative process for me is all about making something that wasn’t there before, whether it be a quilt from pieces of fabric or a meal from leftovers in the fridge. So if you made something new, you’re creative!
If you could interview a creative person (past or present), who would that person be? Please explain your choice.
I would love to meet Maya Angelou. She says things that make me feel. Her words are so inspiring.
Are there indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
How many UFOs do you think you have?
Not as many as you think. I don’t have the luxury of letting projects sit around. I’ve got deadlines! So really, I only have a few.
What is your favorite storage tip for fabric?
Funny enough, I like to store half-finished projects in pizza boxes. Because they stack up well and keep things organized. Plus, they’re not expensive!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
I don’t know about the best, but recently I’ve been challenging myself to find “joy in the journey.” Life, and quilting, isn’t always about achieving a perfect result. It’s about finding happy moments along the way.
Do you lecture or teach workshops? How can students/organizers get in touch with you to schedule an event?
Go ahead and visit our Eventbrite page HERE to see when I’m teaching a trunk show or visiting a retreat. There are lots of opportunities!
Which current trends are you following?
I got into English paper piecing from my Australian friend Sue Daley. It’s a fun way of taking quilting wherever I go! Check out her EPP products HERE.
What project are you working on now?
I’m always working on the next tutorial!
What do you hope the next year will bring?
Personally, I hope for more growth and learning. Exciting things will be happening with Missouri Star too! I can’t talk about next year’s events yet, but I have a feeling that 2019 will be a really fun year.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
A big thank you to all the quilters out there who keep tuning in weekly to my quilting tutorials. You make it all worth it!
Interview with Jenny Doan published November 2018
Browse through all of our Spotlight interviews on Create Whimsy.