Quilt Shop Feature: H. Corinne Hewitt
CREATIVITY THAT INSPIRES A STRONG BRAND
It was a true pleasure to meet H. Corinne Hewitt and discover her Quilt Patterns & Fabrics Shop. I’m excited to share her entrepreneurial story with you, readers, as I am sure that it will inspire you to pursue your creative goals. Like many of you, Corinne has been creative from a young age. Joining her creativity with business has made her today a successful entrepreneur, a published novelist, and pattern designer. As I spoke to Corinne, I came to believe that her success was made possible in part due to her personal love of everything vintage that has inspired all her projects, and that has created a strong brand image for her shop, her patterns and her most recent projects.
Corinne’s desire to create has been the underlining thread of her entire life. As a teenager, she remembers attempting to write her own autobiography and a romance novel, and learning how to sew. When she had children, she enjoyed sewing their clothing for special occasions and then later turned to quilting. She fondly remembers that one of the first quilts she made was an antique quilt make out of sugar sacks, iron-ons and a gingham sashing. Throughout her life Corinne has taken up sewing, baking, crafting, writing, quilting, pattern-making and even playing the fiddle!
Her adventure in pattern-making began due to a frustration with the patterns available on the market. She never liked wasting fabric when following a Fat Quarter pattern, and thought she would make one that used up the entire bundle. “It was great to use all the fabric, but at the same time, it didn’t allowed for mistakes!” Corinne is mostly a self-taught learner and this has been helpful for her in some circumstances. When she first started making quilt patterns, she purposefully avoided looking at the internet, books or magazines for inspiration. Today, she makes all kinds of patterns, but her favourites are her appliqué patterns, which she always starts by hand-drawing to get the most unique look.
All this creativity has really brought her to where she is today. After a couple of years of making her quilt patterns and finding it difficult to sell them to retailers, she got the idea to open her own quilt shop. It would take a visit to the town of Hanna to get her dog groomed and someone mentioning how hard it was to find fabric in the area because the fabric store in their town had closed, to move forward with her idea. Her shop officially opened in 2009.
The store reflects her personal style and aesthetic. Corinne is truly passionate about all things Antique and Vintage! She loves florals in particular but all antique patterns are her favourite. Marcus Fabrics is therefore one of her favourite fabric suppliers. Her home is also filled with antiques, which she collects, and she even once held a “Quilting Bee”!
In addition to her career in the quilting industry, Corinne recently wrote and published a book titled Jacob of Abbington Pickets. True to her style, this historical romance novel showcases the romanticism of the Prairies at the turn of the century. The book tells the story of Jacob, a hard-working and honourable man. “I tried to create a character that women would think to be the ‘perfect man’!”
When she was a kid, Corinne’s grand-mother worked in a Historical Park, which really made her want to write historical fiction. Her book is now sold in stores, online, and of course in her quilt shop! I was very impressed when she told me that she wrote the entire book and got it published in a year and a half! She was truly dedicated to completing her book and so during the day she would work on her quilting business and projects, and at night she would write.
Jacob of Abbington Pickets Quilt Kit[/caption] Corinne is a savvy entrepreneur who clearly understands the power of building a strong brand image around her style. Her experience as a published author has also made her more appreciative of the selling and promoting aspects of her business. Her most recent idea really showcases this well: to cross-promote all her projects, she has created kits that include her book and an original quilt pattern inspired by the story. Not surprisingly, the kits are a hit and Corinne now plans on creating 4 new patterns and kits. “If Downton Abbey can do it, so can I!” she says.
The support from the community of Hanna, Alberta has really left her humbled, especially since the launch of her book. She believes that the key to this community support is that she allows anyone to come in and sew in her back room anytime. As we spoke, there were 8 women sewing away! She likes people to feel at home in her shop, and the first thing she says to new customers is usually, “how about some coffee?” In 2013 she moved her shop to a bigger space, which allows her to host sewing days and meeting nights for the local guild shop. In addition to the community support, she’s found that social media has been a great way to encourage sales. “I’ll post what’s in stock on Facebook, and I’ve sold entire bolts that way!”
Her abundant creativity has no doubt helped in diversifying her brand while preserving it’s overall vintage image. I believe that this is something that all shop owners can learn from!
-Jessica Kaufman, digital community manager for International Textiles.