They came, they saw, and they learned. A lot! The debut Threads of Success conference – held in conjunction with the fall edition of International Quilt Market – brought more than 100 students, including those entirely new to the industry and those who are seeking to grow their quilting-related business.


With a slate of keynote and breakout sessions, networking events, and other social activities, students received first-hand knowledge from many of the industry’s biggest names in education and business, all culminating with the chance to spend time on the Quilt Market show floor. And the networking and experience-sharing will continue with a number of exclusive post-show online opportunities.

Threads of Success Coordinator Cheryl Sleboda discusses the experience, and what is being planned for next year’s edition, also to be held during Quilt Market, October 24-26, 2020.


What was your overall feeling about the initial Threads of Success conference?

I don’t think I’m alone in the thought that Threads of Success was a resounding hit. The feedback from those who attended overwhelmed us, and people could not stop talking about the amount of value this event was for them personally and professionally. The buzz reached well outside of our participants, as we heard from vendors on the Market floor. I’m so incredibly proud of the staff and presenters for their efforts in this amazing conference.


How do you think it helped students on a concrete level?

The variety of presentations and keynote speeches from people of all levels in the industry created an educational platform from which any business gained traction and could leap off from. By combining this event with Quilt Market, these entrepreneurs were ready to hit the Market floor on Monday and make something concrete happen for their business.


Finally, what do you hope to do/achieve with next year’s Threads of Success?

Part of our plans are to expand on topics we covered this year, introduce new topics, and also include new features for those who attended already. As Coordinator, I’m looking forward to building a curriculum that will launch and support businesses of all kinds into this amazing industry.


Here’s some feedback from our presenters….


“After years of being a shop owner, teacher, lecturer, and all around attendant of Quilt Market and Festival, it was truly exhilarating to see fresh ideas and enthusiasm again!

The excitement was contagious.” – Charlotte Angotti


“As a presenter, it was very gratifying to share my expertise with attendees and to experience their enthusiasm for learning! I wish I'd had this type of resource years ago when I first began my career as a quilting professional.” – Christa Watson


“Being surrounded by fellow creatives was exciting and encouraging. The students even sparked a fire in my soul.” – Sue O’Very

“It was exhilarating. Everyone was interested in and invested in learning. What a great group, and an amazing experience. I teach in a lot of venues, and I thought the Threads of Success was groundbreaking.” — Dr. Elizabeth Townsend Gard





And most important of all, our students!


“When the conference was over, I left with a clear to-do list and a roadmap of where to go to make my ambitions a reality. The sharing and the level of expertise available was beyond my expectations. It was great!” – Steve Carr


“It was extremely comforting, inspiring, and validating spending a weekend of learning with people in all levels of their business. We all have to start somewhere, and hearing tips and tricks from industry leaders so willing to share their successes and failures was incredibly humbling.” – Tricia Schroeter

“I felt like I was an outsider of the industry waiting for someone to open the door and invite me in. However, by the time TOS was done, I felt like I had burst through the door, crashed the party, and welcomed myself home! Everything shared by the amazing group of presenters and mentors, as well as all my fellow attendees, showed me that I am more ready for this great adventure than I realized. As long as I can stay out of my own way, the future is waiting!” – Rona Herman


“What TOS did for me was confirm in my heart and spirit and that I really, really, really want to be a national educator for one of the bigger sewing machine companies. TOS gave me a clearer vision and desire of what I want, and some ideas of how to pursue this dream.” – Lisa Wilder










In this eighteenth (and final!) in a series of mini-interviews, learn more about our Threads of Success speakers and their sessions!


On Saturday, October 26, from 9:30-10:15 am, Pierce will present “Brands, Relationships, and Not-So-Random Thoughts.”

Why did you want to participate in the Threads of Success conference?

Anytime I can help usher fresh talent and leaders into our wonderful world of needle and thread, I am game.


What was the biggest challenge for you in breaking into this business?

Understanding that I don’t know everything is easy to say, but an active ego, begs to differ. Listening and being open to the experiences and insight procured by industry participants is essential.


What is the one piece of advice you wish you knew then that you do now?

Life, work, family, and health are fluid. Finding balance is a consistent juggling act.


What is the most important thing you hope people take away from your presentations?

You are not alone.


Any other comments?

The Threads of Success program is proof that industry leaders are accessible and willing to share lessons learned from strategic planning, associations, and chance encounters.


In this seventeenth in a series of mini-interviews, learn more about our Threads of Success speakers and their sessions!


On Saturday, October 26, from 11:20 am-12:05 pm, Barnes will present “Running Your Own Race: Only You Can Be You!”


Why did you want to participate in the Threads of Success conference?

It is an honor for me to participate in Threads of Success—my students call me an “encourager.” I want so much to share some simple, achievable goals with people BEFORE they participate in their first Market! You can do this—and it’s easier than you think.


What was the biggest challenge for you in breaking into this business?

As a pattern designer, one of the biggest challenges for me was to develop relationships with the major distributors. And now, as a fabric designer, one of the biggest challenges is to develop relationships with shop owners. This is the realization that there will always be a “next” challenge. Find the right tools to get you past your “biggest challenge,” at any stage of your career!


What is the one piece of advice you wish you knew then that you do now?

The best advice anyone can give, is to find someone that will give you their best advice. Look for someone that’s willing to share, that wants to collaborate, rather than compete. Ask them to mentor you, and offer something in return. Search out the positive, and don’t worry about the negative. Keep moving, and you will succeed!


What is the most important thing you hope people take away from your presentations?

After hearing these Threads of Success presentations, I hope that each participant will have a clear path ahead of them! And the confidence to tackle all of it! Because, well, as I mentioned in the first comment, my students do consider me an “encourager!”


For more on Natalie and her work, visit www.beyondthereefpatterns.com

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