With over 30 years of combined experience quilting, 18 years in the fabric industry, and a decade-long dream to open a quilting store together–sisters Linda O’Brien and Carolyn Weight launched their own store, My Sisters Quilts, in November of 2010. Since the business opened, the store has become a local favorite for its high quality quilting materials, personalized customer service, and its warm and inviting atmosphere.
Located in Riverton, My Sisters Quilts is conveniently located for quilting enthusiasts that live or work in the southwest corner of the Salt Lake Valley. The store offers customers a variety of quilting classes three to four nights a week. The store has drawn the attention of residents and expert business advisors from the Salt Lake Small Business Development Center (SBDC) because of their success. My Sisters Quilts draws customers from Salt Lake Valley, Utah Valley, across the state as well as quilters from out of state. O’Brien and Weight also broke even on their initial investment (in the first year of business alone), and are projected to grow more than 50% in their second full year of business.
Before O’Brien and Weight opened the store, the two sisters enrolled in an entrepreneurial class that a friend had recommended to them, offered by the SBDC at Salt Lake Community College’s Larry H. Miller campus. The class “Start Smart” provided O’Brien and Weight with critical information about starting a business. Following the SBDC training, O’Brien and Weight attended several consulting sessions with the SBDC’s Assistant Director, Lowell Baggaley. The consulting helped O’Brien and Weight formalize their business plans, assess the market and determine a location for the store. The two sisters also received counseling from the Women’s Business Institute, a resource for female entrepreneurs at the College.
“The (Start Smart) class helped us think of things we hadn’t thought of before,” said Weight. “If we had questions, we could always call Lowell for help.” O’Brien and Weight are now looking into expanding their business in the future to include more retail space, a larger classroom and space for a quilting machine. To achieve their growth goals, O’Brien and Weight have started working with Baggaley once again to secure additional working capital.
Much of My Sisters Quilts success can be attributed to a loyal and supportive community of quilters. Several of O’Brien and Weights customer have discovered the store through word of mouth referrals. “Our customers have referred others (to us) because we help people not only select fabric, but also pick out a pattern,” said O’Brien. “We don’t just sell stuff—we want to help them.” The business is also located in a great location, which exposes the store to potential new customers and is easily accessed from Interstate 15 and the Bangerter Highway. O’Brien and Weight attribute much of their success to family support, their customers and their passion for quilting.
In addition to O’Brien and Weight’s roles as new business owners, the quilting store has created two additional staff positions and will likely need more as the business grows. The sisters also donate quilting displays on a quarterly basis to educational establishments and non-profit organizations for fundraising efforts. Weight is also sending quilting kits on a monthly basis to Japan for a quilting class that takes place for U.S. Military personnel and their families.
The Salt Lake Small Business Development Center (SBDC) congratulates Linda O’Brien and Carolyn Weight for the successful launch of My Sister’s Quilts. The store is great resource for quilters and aspiring hobbyists throughout the valley, and is a model venture for small businesses to live and thrive.