Quilt Shop Feature: Creative Klutter
This month, we travel to Alberta to visit a great Canadian quilt shop, Creative Klutter. Situated on the main road in the small town of Irma, Creative Klutter sells a variety of crafting and quilting goods, home décor items, as well as jewellery, and naturopathic products. They also offer customers a variety of personalized services like custom-made placemats, full size quilts, photo quilts, t-shirts and more. The shop’s style is truly eclectic and you can feel the creative energies flowing throughout the stores colourful displays.
The shop’s owner, Betty Ganie, is a lifelong resident of Irma and a seasoned sewing-enthusiast: “I started at home sewing, [and] home economics at school. After that I took different classes. [At first,] my sewing was mostly clothing, dance outfits and bathing suits…I also kept sewing home décor.” First opened in 2002, the shop has evolved throughout the years to reflect its customers changing styles and needs. “One of my best strengths is being able to evolve” says Betty, proudly.
Like many store owners, Betty is delighted of her shop’s success and loves owning her own business. Every item in the store is carefully selected by her and her team of 3 part-time employees. One of the shop’s motto is to keep things fresh, and Betty prides herself on the frequent arrival of new items. Her talented staff also help inspire new patterns and products, “They love to try out new things and because each of them have their own way of doing things, I have this wonderful array of skills and talents and interests behind me along with my own abilities. That’s the secret behind my staff!”
Although she praises her amazing staff, the success of the store is in no little part due to Betty’s good eye for trending items and forward-thinking entrepreneurship. While she doesn’t name any favourite fabric designer specifically, she does mention her excitement for Disney fabrics: “It was especially exciting for me, as a great-grandmother, to discover the amazing Disney lines carried by International Textiles [by supplier Springs Creative]. Frozen sold out when it was put out on our email list and on Facebook. Minions just sold out last week!” The store also carries some of Betty’s favorite naturopathic products, including the Young Living Essential Oils, which have become one of her best selling products, in part thanks to an article published about them in a local newsletter.
Diversifying her product offering has always been a priority for Ms. Ganie, who attentively watched the quilting business evolve throughout the years. Her wealth of knowledge and experience is revealed when she enthusiastically describes her favourite items in the store: “The rotary cutter, no doubt, is the most delightful change of all [in quilting], and of course, the wonderful selection of rulers! No longer do you need to have three or four rulers to do one step, now there are these streamlined rulers which have those same three or fours in one ruler. Mind blowing! Best Press pins make those blocks look so much better – and the fragrance never hurts. And Fork Pins, oh how I wish they had been around sooner! Imagine getting to hold down both sides of a seam with only one pin. And get to sew over it without breaking a pin. Fantastic!”
Owning a business can sometimes be challenging, especially when owners play various roles, from bookkeeper and marketer to quilting artist and teacher. Betty understands these challenges very well: “I’ve had to stretch myself in ways I could never explain!” Betty also remarks that this is especially true in our digital age, when brick and mortar stores face stiff competition from online retailers. When I ask her how’s she’s dealt with these new challenges, she confidently says that she’s doing what she’s always done: evolve. In addition to maintaining a steady presence on their Facebook account, Creative Klutter is now building it’s web identity, establishing a place on Etsy and actively pinning on Pinterest.
Giving back to the community is also a bit part of what Betty does. Once a month, Creative Klutter hosts a Sew for a Cause Day, which has been able to support many local charities. “It’s a great way to feel good, not only in giving, but also in receiving from the friendships [created at these events].” The shop is definitely a nice place to hang out and make friends, and all clients are treated like family. People come in just to have a cup of coffee and chat about their newest quilt. Between two sips of coffee the in-house photographer takes snapshots of a clients’ project, to be proudly displayed on their Facebook page. The atmosphere here is warm and welcoming.
“Clients are always welcome to visit! The store showcases the talents of many designers, from fabric to pattern makers. Can’t find an item? we’ll look for it and we can order once found. Want to do a special quilt? come in and talk to us. We’re also a drop off for long arm quilters. Whether the visitor is a new sewer, wants to become one, or has experience but needs refreshing on skills, Creative Klutter has lessons available. And the tea or coffee can be made in a jiffy and no one is in a hurry to chase you out when you need a hand!” -Betty Ganie, Shop Owner
And if good coffee and warm friendships aren’t enough, Creative Klutter also host a variety of events and specials throughout the year to encourage new customers to visit. This year, the shop hosted it’s first trunk show, Among Brenda’s Quilts Trunk Show, to great success. They also participate in local events and programs like Shop Your Neighbourhood, Made in Canada Promotions, Support your Troops, Canadian-Made Black Friday, Stars as well as local Irma events such as Irma Dazes and Irma Santa Dazes. But right now, the big excitement seems to be coming from the store’s participation in the 2015 Row By Row Experience: “It’s our first year and we’re bursting at the seams with the excitement generated by the customers coming in, especially since June 21. The store has been bustling with activity!”
Evolution, diversification and community – three pillars of business that have been well harvested by Creative Klutter’s owner, Betty Ganie. She isn’t shy to go out and try new business ideas and move her shop towards the future; this is exactly what has made her store truly successful for over 10 years. It was a pleasure to work with such wonderful people and I wish Creative Klutter another 10 years of successful business!
-Jessica Kaufman, digital community manager for International Textiles.