Marie Kessler started her quilting business, Kessler Kreations, out of her home in 2004. "People would bring me their quilting projects, the top and back, and I would sew them together with the batting in between using my machine," said Marie. Marie’s home was in a rural area, so people would get lost trying to find her house. Kessler Kreations needed to be in a place that people could easily find. So, in 2005 she rented about 600 square feet of storefront space from a friend who owned a gift shop in Hillsboro. The fixed hours and location in town helped grow her customer base. She worked the business part time until 2007. The increase in the workload allowed her to quit her full time job and devote all her time to her growing business. In 2010, she needed more space and moved into a 1,500 square foot location. Within 10 months, she was outgrowing the space. The local fabric shop owner was retiring and selling her business. Marie wanted to acquire their fabric inventory and displays. “The closest fabric shops were 25 miles away in Newton and McPherson, so the decision was an easy one”, said Marie.
In 2011, she contacted Clint Seibel, Director of Hillsboro Development Corporation, who helped create a business plan and put her in contact with the Kansas Small Business Development Center (KSBDC) at Emporia State University and Butler Community College KSBDC. Clint Siebel was also aware of a larger building that was available in Hillsboro. He told Marie about an old furniture store that occupied three store fronts in the same building. The previous owner had cut through the interior walls to create 10,000 square feet of space, which provided enough room for Kessler Kreations to occupy 6,000 square feet, and rent out the rest.
The team at KSBDC helped Marie solidify her financial projections and create a new marketing plan. They even provided a QuickBooks advisor to help keep her records in order.
“I had no clue what paperwork the bank would need to approve a loan, and the people at the KSBDC and the South Central Kansas Economic Development District (SCKED) helped by walking me through the loan paperwork process,” said Marie. With their assistance, Marie’s dream of expanding to the new location came true when the loan was secured to purchase and remodel the property. On August 20, 2011, the doors opened for business!
Kessler Kreations rented the excess space in the shop to a full service flower shop and to various consignment vendors that offered a variety of products that were complementary to their quilts and supplies. “We have vendors who sell antiques, collectibles, jewelry, used books, and one who makes pot holders and aprons,” explained Marie.
As the quilting hobby has grown in popularity, so has Kessler Kreations. In July 2013, Marie purchased a new computerized quilting machine to help her keep-up with demand. The addition of the new machine increases Kessler’s output to two quilts per day. Doubling the output of her manual quilting machine. Her increased business has also allowed her to hire a new full-time and one part-time employee.
Marie’s advice to other start-up business owners is “to reach out and contact the KSBDC office in your area. They offer the advice and assistance to help you take your business to the next level!”