Jenny Doan of Hamilton, Missouri had lost almost all her savings in the financial crisis of 2008. This was not the first time she was facing financial challenges. Earlier she had to spend a good part of her savings for her youngest son Josh’s illness. That’s when she had moved from her native California to Missouri.
Life wasn’t easy in Missouri for Jenny and her family. Her husband Ron used to travel an hour and a half each way to work as a mechanic for Kansas City Star newspaper. Because of the decline of the print media, Ron feared to lose his job.
She wasn’t sure what to do in that hopeless situation and knew nothing about how her fortunes were about to change.
Before coming to Hamilton, Jenny used to create costumes for theatre. But there was no opportunity to do the same in Hamilton. People there were into quilting. She joined a class to learn and was instantly hooked. Eventually, she started making quilts for family and friends using whatever fabric she had on hand.
One day she took some quilts to be machine quilted to a local shop. The owner told her that she’d have to wait for one year to get it done. Two of her children told her, “Mom if you have to wait that long to have your quilts quilted, there’s gotta be a lot of demand. You should start your own machine quilting business!”
So, in Nov 2008 she took out a loan to buy a sewing machine, got a small place, and started quilting. Back then, she had no money for advertising. Jenny’s son asked her if she would be ok filming some quilt tutorials to help spread the word. Jenny responded, “Sure! â€¦ What’s a tutorial?” She was soon in front of the camera, teaching quilting techniques to a small number of viewers on YouTube. That first video started a chain reaction.
She continued making those videos and today has the biggest quilting channel on YouTube. Her YouTube channel is not her only claim to fame but it definitely started the party. In 3 years, she made a million dollars. Eventually, Jenny’s passion and her videos enabled the creation of a quilting empire that employs 400 people in a town of 1500 people.
When shooting her first video, little did she know that within a few short years, Missouri Star Quilt Company, the business she started, will be offering the world’s largest selection of precut quilting fabrics and she will create what people call the “Disneyland of Quilting” in a sleepy little town where more than 400,000 quilting lovers will visit every year to meet Jenny and attend quilting retreats.
I am sure there was luck involved, but it also happened because,
- Jenny was passionate about the craft.
- She chose to share what she knows.
- She did it consistently.
- And, then when people asked to buy stuff she made it available.
You too can do it for your venture.
Just teach people to do on their own what you sell. Not everyone will buy from you but some will and that small number may be beyond your wildest dreams.
Do you want to give it a shot?
Wow.. this is really inspirational story.
Thanks, Lakshmi! Glad it resonated.