By Deb Luttrell
Hey there! Let me tell you a heartwarming story about how my journey in the world of quilting began. It all started when I was 13, and my wonderful mother taught me how to sew. Back then, it was part of a homemaking class, but little did I know that this skill would become my lifelong passion.
Throughout high school, I proudly made most of my own clothes. However, as time passed, I realized buying clothes was more cost-effective. Besides, the clothes I made didn't always fit perfectly, and that mattered to me more and more!
After high school, I ventured into the corporate world, landing a job at Southwestern Bell and later at GTE Directories. Those experiences taught me the importance of systems and customer focus, which stuck with me forever. But let's be honest, it was quite a stressful job with much travel involved.
Then, one day, I got inspired by my aunt, who started quilting at the age of 65. I thought, "Hey, this could be a fantastic way to manage stress while I'm on the go!" So, I decided to give quilting a try. It turned out to be a perfect fit! I started working on quilting blocks even during my travels on airplanes.
In 1994, a special moment arrived when I asked my employers for a summer break to spend more time with my only child, Clay. He was in fifth grade then, and I had never spent a whole summer with him. But unfortunately, they said no. So, you know what I did? I took a leap of faith and quit my job to make memories with my son. We moved to a lovely 200-acre ranch in rural Quitman, Texas, planning to raise emus, but life had different plans for us.
Quilting became the center of my life, and I decided to pursue my dream of owning a quilt shop. So, I bravely opened "Stitchin' Heaven" with just 1,000 square feet and 600 bolts of fabric. Can you believe it? Fast forward to 2022, and we've grown into a thriving company with 75 exceptional employees. Our shop has become a beloved destination for quilting enthusiasts who travel from all corners of the world to take classes and connect with like-minded "piecing" aficionados.
Recently, we expanded our little haven by building a beautiful 17,500-square-foot retail store, complete with an online shop and office space. Not to mention our 9,500-square-foot retreat center with six cozy guest cottages, perfect for visiting quilters. Oh, and we have even more exciting news! In October 2022, we'll be moving into our brand new, impressive 45,000-square-foot warehouse, office, and event space, making our campus a whopping 75,000 square feet in total!
Over the years, our hard work and dedication have been recognized on various fronts. We were listed in the top 10 quilt shops by Quilt Sampler magazine in 2000, and in 2022, we were featured again as an Encore Shop, sharing our inspiring journey of "where we are now." Our proudest achievement, however, is being the largest supplier of Block of the Month programs worldwide. It's just incredible how far we've come!
But you know what truly warms our hearts? The fantastic support we receive from our community of quilters. When the world faced a challenging time, we all came together and spearheaded a facemask drive, creating and distributing over 50,000 masks to clinics, doctor's offices, and other businesses in our area. Our mission has always been about our customers, and we're so grateful to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Our dedication to quilting and our customers has led to recognition from various magazines and industry awards. In 2021, I was honored to be named SBA Small Business Person of the Year, and we've received other prestigious accolades like the 2021 BERNINA Rookie of the Year.
Lastly, I have to share the most heartwarming part of this journey – my son, Clay, who joined me in the business in 2018. It's incredible to have my child by my side, building something extraordinary together that started from the simple desire to spend more time with him.
Ultimately, it's all about our amazing customers who have made "Stitchin' Heaven" what it is today – a place filled with love, creativity, and community. We can't thank them enough for participating in this beautiful journey!