It was 2008 and in the heat of the recession when Misty Doan and her family decided to turn a fun quilting hobby into a business. Some might say that a recession is the worst time to start an endeavor, but with good business practices and an emerging online presence, the Doans were fortunate enough for their business to flourish. Lean more about Missouri Star Quilt Company, and why people travel from all over the world to shop there.
AFCI: Can you talk about the history of Missouri Star Quilt Company?
Misty Doan: It really started in 2008 during the recession. We started as a machine quilting business. Our hometown is a population of 1,800 people, so initially our plan was for my mother-in-law to do it from home. The machine was too big for the house, so we ended up buying a building. The building cost lost than the quilt machine. Some people say that a recession is the worst time to start a business, but for us it really worked out. All of a sudden, it mattered. It was more than just supplementing the bills. We didn’t have foot traffic, so my brother-in-law suggested that my mother-in-law do tutorials. About a year in, we started filming our first videos. We had one single camera and we just recorded her teaching the basics of quilting. Since then, our YouTube channel has really grown. My husband and I have a passion for video, and people ask us a lot how we can provide our content for free. That has been an incredible strength for our business. People feel such gratitude for the knowledge that we share, and it makes them want to shop with us. People come from all over the world.
AFCI: What are the biggest threats for brick-and-mortar businesses in the creative industry today?
MD: The biggest threat in the creative industry is an unwillingness to change. There are wonderful quilt shops that have been around for a long time, but they are afraid of changing the way they do things. Change is a good thing, and we need to jump online so that we can survive in the digital age. At the same time, the one downside to the digital space is that is easy to be influenced by what other people are doing. Know what your goals are so that you stay true to your business. We make sure that our core values are carried through in everything we do.
AFCI: What was your approach for creating your online content? What was your umbrella strategy?
MD: We were very fortunate. YouTube was still very young when we started, so that was part of the magic, but the opportunities on YouTube are still very much available. The thing about YouTube is that only 9% of small businesses are using YouTube right now. It’s totally underutilized. The thing that we always stick to is that consistency is key. Once we started that our videos actually worked, we decided that we would do them every week. Every week without fail, our customers know that we will post a video. Making it easier for your customer to find you once you’ve found them is very important. It will help your SEO because Google will prioritize video content, because it’s proven to be more effective for people.
AFCI: What are the big benefits of having an online presence?
MD: It’s absolutely the audience. We have over 600,000 subscribers on YouTube. It magnifies our audience and our community in ways that we could have never imagined. My biggest advice is to just try it and not give up. Consistency is the key.
Misty helped build a team of creators focused on the benefits of digital media to catapult the Missouri Star Quilt Company from a small town quilt shop into a well-known and loved sensation. She understands that one size doesn’t fit all but believes that you can find ways to embrace digital media and make it work for your business - and wants you to be empowered to go for it. Connect with her on Instagram: @mistydoan Check out Missouri Star Quilt Company: www.missouriquiltco.com @Missouriquiltco.