A Peek Behind the Curtain: Comparing 2015 to 2016

I make it no secret that I’m in this business to make a profit.  I can’t just jet set off to teach for the fun of it.  It has to make me money, so I can pay my bills!  During a conversation recently, I had someone ask me about “Where the Money Is” in this business, and I thought I would give you a peek inside, since I’m doing my taxes anyway!

My 2016 was a very unusual year.  My personal life had a major shift at the beginning of the year, so I tempered my expectations so that I could focus on staying mentally well.  My goal over 2015 was a modest one: I wanted to see at least 10% growth.

Here’s where 2016 stacked up against 2015:
I traveled more in 2016 than 2015, therefore my lecture, workshops, and kit fees were all higher.  Technically, sales were not down, but my sales to the distributor level were, which are larger and usually more dollars per order.  So, though I increased my personal sales, it was not enough to match the lowered distributor orders.

I wrote less for others in 2016 as well, which is why more freelance writing is a goal of mine this year. And commission income, such as affiliate links and other passive income forms have been consistently flat, another area I need to show some growth.

So how did I do?  Well, I was $300 shy of my 10% growth goal, so not too bad.  I have heard from others that their 2016 was down or flat, so I feel I did well by considering my distributor orders were basically non-existent!   I also had a rough emotional year, so I also have to factor that in as well.

I hope this gives you a little bit of info on how it broke down for me, and I hope it helps you somewhat if you are running your own quilt industry business.  I’ll share the 2016 income and expenses pie charts in another post!

Luck is where Preparation meets Opportunity – Saying YES

cherylsleboda2017-headshotsmJust who the heck is this Cheryl Sleboda?  I think I have heard of her before… ha ha! Mostly people recognize me by my hair!

I’m just back from a whirlwind of teaching in Florida, Wisconsin, and California, and I got to tell all of those fine folks the same thing I’m going to tell you.  I didn’t plan to start out doing this quilt teacher thing, it just happened.

In the beginning, it was this blog, which is now 11 years old!

I was also Pokey Bolton’s biggest stalker fan and had done lots and lots of quilt work by the time she knew my name. (The hilarious exchange is recorded for all eternity in an embarrassing blog post you are welcome to search for in the 2008 archive).  I worked on weekly quilts for over a year at that point and would continue my weekly quilt project for another 4 years. I worked so hard each week to hone my craft (so to speak).  So when Pokey would ask me 2 years later to submit to the magazine, I said YES.

Bernina AmbassadorFrom there, I said a series of YESes.  Some were paid.  Many were not.  But I looked at everything as an opportunity.   Magazine? YES.  Submit to quilt competition? YES.  Moderate our online forums for free? YES.  Do an Open Studio slot? YES.  Consider being on QATV? YES.  Demo in our classroom? YES.  Lecture to your home guild? YES.  And so on it goes until I’m here.  I know that I’m incredibly blessed, but I also know how hard I have worked to be able to have my opportunities meet my preparations.   Being a BERNINA Ambassador is one of those opportunites, and OH BOY, did I say YES.

So now, I’m a full time quilt teacher and lecturer, as well as owner of my own company that sells quilting patterns, tools, DVDs, and merchandise. I also consult and mentor others in this wonderful industry because I believe when one of us succeeds, we all succeed.  I still work on my own art.   I have lots of irons in lots of fires, and I’m open to all of the opportunities and I’m prepared.

luck-is-where-preparation-meets-opportunityWhile not all paths end up to the same destination, I hope you reach all of your quilting dreams when your opportunities arise and meet your preparation.

I hope you click around my site and get to know a little about me, and be sure to visit the wonderful other BERNINA Ambassadors on this blog tour.  They are wonderful people who inspire me, and I know you will be inspired too.  And I would like to give a special shout out to Teri Lucas, who organized this whole blog tour, and you should definitely go to her blog first here: https://terificreations.com/ 


Monday March 20
Lynn Carson Harris harrislc@gmail.com
Kelly Ashton kelly@kellyquilter.com
Diane Doran info@dianedoran.com
Melody Crust melody@melodycrust.com

Tuesday March 21
Kathy Delaney kathy@kathydelaney.com
Christa Watson christa@christaquilts.com
Mandy Leins mandalei@gmail.com

Wednesday March 22
Sandy Fitzpatrick hissyfitz@earthlink.net
Beth Ferrier beth@applewd.com
Cheryl Sleboda cherylsleboda@gmail.com  <<— YOU ARE HERE!

Thursday March 23
Annie Smith annie@anniesmith.net
Lori Kennedy lckennedy@hotmail.com
Kari Carr kari@newleafstitches.com
Catherine Redford catherine@catherineredford.com

Friday March 24
Joanne Sharpe jzsharpe@yahoo.com
Cherry Guidry cherry@cherryblossomsquilting.com
Jenelle Montilone jenelle@trashn2tees.com

Happy New Year! 

Well it’s already 2017 in parts of the world, so let me wish you all a Happy New Year! 

This year is the year of the Rooster. Let’s hope it’s better than the year of the Monkey. Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu! (Happy new year in Japanese, to go with my annual new year display.)

Whatever your resolutions or goals are for the New Year, I wish you the best! 

RIP Carrie Fisher aka Princess/General Leia

When Star Wars came out, I was pretty little, but my brother and the neighborhood kids and I would all still play as the characters. I’ll let you guess who I got to be. I was lucky to have a heroine like Princess Leia to have as a role model.  She ran around with the guys and shot a gun and all sorts of other stuff, and wasn’t just a damsel in distress to be rescued. I loved her smart mouth and tough attitude.  I work in the wonderful industry of geeky pop culture, and Carrie Fisher and I have probably been in the same building lots of times, though I never got to meet her.

yr5week7I only made two tributes to Leia in my quilts, one for my original Weekly Quilt Series in 2011.

img034This last one was made this year for the Bear+Bird Gallery “Return of Stitch Wars” show.

Her passing has made me terribly sad, and reading the many tributes from all of my friends on social media, it seems that she touched them as well.  I know the next installment of the saga will be bittersweet.

Krackle Zwei

I always said my Kirby Krackle quilts were a series and I finally finished the top for the second piece. I’ll be quilting it soon!