Monday, January 11, 2010

20 years

It's very hard for me to believe Cotton Way is celebrating it's 20th year. Way, way back (before some of you were even in grade school) in January of 1990 I started Cotton Way. I never imagined it would be such an amazing journey. Looking back so much in the industry has changed.
This is a picture of me at my very first Quilt Market in Houston Fall of 1990. Yes, I did start my company designing dolls and I looked alot younger then. I shared a booth with a friend who designed quilts, so the quilts are hers and the dolls are mine. I have the deer in the headlights look I know, but thats because I had no idea what I was doing. It was pretty overwhelming to say the least. Dolls were in high demand in 1990 and I loved making them.
These are some of the dolls I took to market, my two little boys wanted to pose with them. These boys are now 23 and 24. (They felt a little left out a few weeks ago when I posted about our crazy creative family and didn't include them... this is for you boys!)

Cotton Way really grew my second year in business when I came up with the Long Leggins Series. (Tall dolls with dowel legs and egg heads) Many of you may have some of the Long Leggins patterns that you made for friends and family or even the craft show circut. I know I can't even count how many I made. Folkart Friends was my best selling pattern back then and still stands after all these years. Yes, girls, they really were the hot pattern back then (hard to believe, I know!)
In 1993 my local newpaper did a feature article on my company with the headline reading "Rigby entrepreneur expands home doll pattern business". I was invited to design some patterns for Simplicity Pattern Company that year and that was big news in our small one stop light town, so I made the paper. Interestingly enough they quoted me saying "The biggest challenge for me is balancing family and business and my family always comes first" and thats still how I feel to this day.



This was my booth in 1996 and yes, I am wearing a Kuin Felt vest with a garden theme in this lovely picture, (felt was all the rage and everyone was wearing embellished vests, everyone!) my pants are pegged and my hair is really big and I look pretty chubby. Go ahead and laugh, I did, I look ridiculous, but remember it was the 90's. I have many other embarrassing pictures, but I don't have room to show them all.

On my 10 year Anniversary at Quilt Market in Minneapolis, MN I introduced my first quilts. The doll phase was slowing down and I was ready for a change after 10 years of crafting. I loved making quilts, my mom and grandmother were avid quilters and so I decided to give designing quilts a try. I also designed some chenille jackets that year and I am happy to say, I am still selling patterns for some of them. At that point I remember thinking "I can't believe I have been doing this for 10 years! Wow! I wonder how much longer I can come up with ideas."

Leisure Arts approached me in 2002 and asked if I would do a baby book, I ended up doing two. In 2005 I designed some quilts for the Leisure Arts Quilt Along with Emily Richards books. Last year I did another book for Leisure Arts called "Lots of Dots".
One of the hightlights of my Cotton Way journey was when I received an exciting phone call in December of 2007 from Cheryl Freydburg from Moda. She left a message on my machine saying she wondered if I would be intersted in designing a line of fabric with my daughter Camille. Wow! Designing fabric was something I had not done at that point and designing for Moda, well, a woman can only dream such things! The answer to that question was a definite "Yes"! Flying to Dallas and meeting with Cheryl, Lissa and the Moda crew was amazing. Can't say enough about how fun that was. Fabric line #3 should be coming out this spring!
While I was looking through pictures and trying to decide what to include in this post I started wondering just how many patterns I have actually designed. At the moment I have 335 printed patterns and 7 books. That is alot of designing, shopping, measuring, cutting, sewing, gluing, writing instructions, photographing, printing, marketing, taking orders and shipping. Wow, that makes me tired to think about!

This is me at last Quilt Market, in Pittsburgh. I have learned so much and have reason to celebrate! I will make sure to take a picture at spring Quilt Market in Minneappolis to add to my scrapbook for my 20 Year Anniversary!

I must say "Thanks" to my husband for all the support, juggling the kids and endless hours of help with wood cutting, computer issues, and last minute market errands and so many more things. (We have 5 kids, so he had to help alot) Thanks to my amazing kids for folding all those patterns, putting kits together, drilling buttons, helping with lots of chores and answering the question "how do you think this looks" honestly. It has definitely been a family business and everyone has had to sacrafice. Thanks to my Mom and Grandmother for their inspiration. The quilting blood runs deep in my veins. Thanks to all of you fellow designers! We have spent many markets having dinner, laughing until all hours of the night, sharing business ideas and asking the big question "What do you think the next hot trend will be"? It's like a family reunion going to Quilt Market each year. Thanks to all of you Quilt Shop owners and loyal customers who have shared the wonderful journey with me! Thanks for buying my patterns all these years. I love your kind phone calls, e-mails and blog comments, thats what keeps me going and makes this experience so sweet. I feel so blessed to be in such a wonderful industry with such talented and amazing friends.

Wow! I can't believe it has been 20 years!

Thanks to all of you and here's to many years to come!

Bonnie

34 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your 20 years. I love using your fabrics and patterns.

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  2. congrats on 20 amazing years!!

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  3. 20 years! That is awesome! Best wishes for your continued success!

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  4. Wow. What an amazing journey. You are so talented and I LOVE your patterns.

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  5. For Christmas this year, my MIL gave me this adorable doll - it was unusual and I hadn't seen one like it before - it's a long leggins doll! :) Congrats on your 20 years! That's amazing.

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  6. Congrats on 20 years! I like how your company has evolved throughout the years.

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  7. I loved reading your journey! Congratulations on 20 years - thanks for sharing the story.

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  8. Happy 20 years. That is awesome!!!

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  9. Congratulations...what a brillant 20 years you have had! cheers to many more!!

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  10. This really is a beautiful post Bonnie - congratulations again on 20 years!

    As a side note to this the first six table runner patterns that I won in your giveaway arrived today! I'm so excited to try them out. Thank you so much for the patterns and for your card (it really made me happy)!

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  11. What a wonderful journey! Thank you for sharing it with us!

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  12. What a wonderful post...I loved reading it! Thanks so much for sharing this and for all the inspiration! Can't wait to see your new fabric...!!!

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  13. It was fun to see your pictures from the start up of your company. I really look forward to your new fabric line. I loved Simple Abundance. Congratulations.

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  14. It must be said- That hair!! ;-) Oh I love it! And you. So proud of all you have accomplished over the last 20 years, both with your business and raising a family. You really are an inspiration.

    Love you mom!

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  15. What fun to see all those photos of your wonderful journey. . . & to remember all the hair & clothing styles! . . . (& from someone who remembers them all . . I must say that you were very stylin' for the times! You looked cute! Really!) Looking forward to seeing you (& the new line!) in Minneapolis! Congratulations Bonnie!
    xo, Bren

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  16. Congratulations on 20 amazing years. Looking forward to seeing your new fabric line. Love what you've done so far...

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  17. Congratulations! It's so great to see someone full of so much creativity!

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  18. Wow! Congratulations on a long career and your newest career with Moda!
    I often wonder where I'll be in 20 years...
    I bet you did too :)

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  19. Congratulations on your 20 year Anniversary! I remember the doll days, I worked in a shop that carried all your patterns. I loved it after market when they came back with so many goodies. See you in Minneapolis!

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  20. Congrtulations on 20 years! I was surprised as you showed your patterns and books that I owned a couple of the old ones! I found my way to you through Camille though and certainly enjoy your Moda fabrics and patterns that you currently do. I'm constantly amazed at your's and Camille's talent. :)

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  21. Congratulations on 20 years! I think it is wonderful that you work with your daughter also. Keepin' it in the family!

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  22. WOW!!! Congrats on your 20 years! Keep up the great work!

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  23. Congrats, Bonnie! You are amazing!

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  24. Congratulations Bonnie on a wonderful 20 years and here's to twenty more!

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  25. Wow--what an accomplishment. I loved your patterns in the 80's-90's and still love them today!!
    Mary

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  26. 1. Congratulations!
    2. Love the Anne Marie doll.
    3. Pretty sure you've NEVER looked chubby.
    4. Love you!

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  27. Congratulations on 20 years! Way to go.

    Laura T

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  28. You are amazing! I remember the first doll I made with your pattern...the long legged rabbit had a red dress and red shoes. I am so glad we are friends. Congratulations!

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  30. I really enjoyed your pictorial look back. Congratulations on 20 years.

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  31. Thanks for sharing your creativity through your beautiful and inspiring patterns. My daughters and I have lots of wonderful memories creating your quilts. Sharing your talent through your patterns has been a blessing to us!!! Thanks for 20 years of inspiration.

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  32. Congratulations Bonnie! What an inspiring post. 335 patterns! It makes your head spin.

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  33. Congratulations on your 20 years of loving what you do! It shows in every pattern and fabric line! I made some of those long-legged dolls back in the 90's and they were great sellers! Love to see how you have "evolved"! Here's to the next 20!

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