Lessons Learned in Business

I put my humor into my patterns

Your product must ooze with your personality.

I think that’s what makes a great company who I love doing business with, stand out from the crowd.

Take my own products. In most of my patterns, I insert at least a smidge of my personality into the directions. I like to write as if I’m talking to you, the end user.

I took the concept of adding my personality to a new level, a few years back while creating new patterns for the Row by Row Experience. I was asked to design a pattern that uses more than 1 of the Fabric Plates (by Debra Gebel of Zebra Patterns). I came up with 2 patterns for “Braggin Poles” which are long wall hangings that you can applique your plates into the design, showing where you’ve been on your Row by Row adventures. Hence the name “Braggin Poles”.

You can see the patterns HERE on my website.

When I was writing the first 2 patterns featuring the plates, my mind wandered around the common obstacle many quilters face . . . . . a husband or wife that doesn’t share their enthusiasm (some may call obsession) with quilting.
I began making up funny news stories that could easily be featured in any local newspaper.  And I thought it would be really funny to publish them as if they were actual newspaper clippings and print them on the pattern covers.
I wrote these patterns a few years ago, and have often wondered how many people actually stopped and read the clipping on the cover.
Anywho – I thought it would be fun news, in this newsletter, to share my humor with you, as it’s the channel my brain most often is tuned to.
Here are the 2 fake newspaper clippings featured on those patterns.

If you have these fabric license plates you’ve collected, I hope you’ll click on over to our webpage where we have all of the RxR patterns I’ve designed.

And, if you have a hilarious story to share about hiding your stash, your loot or fibbing about your hobby $’s – I’d love to hear it, and possibly share it in a future post. I can change names to protect the innocent.  Anywho, please email it to me at julie@patchabilities.com

Please share this blog post with your pals, if you feel it’s “worthy”.

Piece out.


Lessons Learned in Business

We Want You to Help us Decide What Products we Offer in 2019?

Hey Tribe!

Here we are in the last quarter of 2018.  The new year may be two and half months away (yikes that’s closer than ya think), but here at Team Patch we are looking ahead.

We are committed to bringing you “KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF” customer service and “I WOULD JUMP OFF A CLIFF TO GET THAT” products, so we’d LOVE your input to help us create our product and service offerings for 2019.

By the way, I write the way I talk, so don’t wonder if I’m on morning leave from the looney bin. . . . . cuz I’m looney, goofy, creative, curious, and crazy-fun. This also explains why I love, love, love being a crazy-fun mom.

Okay, back to the whole point of this post, which is to ask you for your help.

How can we serve YOU in 2019.

We’re contemplating what, if any, block-of-the-month programs we can offer in 2019.  I have designed BOM’s over the years – I lovingly call them “Monthly Minis” because they are a “mini” dose of stitchin’ fun, every “month” for creating small wall hangings or table runners.  Lots of shops have had these MM’s available, however we recognize some of you, may not have a kick-butt local quilt shop and you’ve never seen some of our MM’s series.  I know, it’s sad to think some people don’t live near an awesome, inspiring quilt shop . . . . but it happens.  So, since I don’t have the time to franchise my Mom’s quilt shop (Merry’s Stitchins – which is kick-butt, inspiring, helpful and downright contagious) in every under-served community, we offer to bring it to you the only way we know how – – – ship it to your mailbox each month.

What that means is every month for the entire year, we ship you a goodie box/envelope containing: 1 seasonal pattern (for the upcoming month) and include the cute buttons &/or hanger.  This starts in Dec or Jan and ends in Nov.  You get it a month ahead of when you hang it up – so you have plenty of time to get it finished.

BOM’s not your thing?  We’ve considered that too, keep reading.

And this is where YOU come in.  Rather than guess all day, as to what we “think” you’d like to see us offer, how about we simply ASK you.  Ya know, hear it straight from the “horse’s mouth”.

We’ve included 1 question in this post and it has several possible answers.  You can help us decide what great products we offer next year.  That’s a pretty big deal and that’s because we seriously care a whole lot about what brings you joy, and if we can bring joy to your world, then . . . . . mission accomplished.

So, I talk mostly about what BOM’s we could offer next year, but not everyone likes to commit to a whole year of projects, so we want to know from you non-BOM’ers too.  “What type of projects do you want us to offer?” Table runners, baby-room decor projects, laundry-room wall hangings, farm house themed quilted wall hangings, quilted decor of a certain size, quilted wall hangings of a certain theme.  I want you to dream about what you want to create.  You have permission to dive down the rabbit hole here and I hope you will bring me along.  Perhaps you’ve seen something in an image on the web somewhere that shows a framed wall hanging but it’s all wood or metal and you’d love to create it using fabric. . . . . I want to tap into your creative dreams. Please, if you’re willing, share your creative dreams with me.  Comment below, include a webpage link, mail me a torn page from a magazine, whatever it is, . . . . .  I want to create what you want to create. It’s that simple.

Here is how you can help.  Click below to answer the burning question.  I’ve attached an image next to each MM answer, so you can see what you’re “voting” for.   Even if BOM’s aren’t your shiz, we want to know what iz your shiz.

Tell us! What would you like to see us offer in 2019?

Thanks a million!  Your opinion matters.


Lessons Learned in Business

Why Do I Feed Overwhelmed by Social Media

Hey y’all.

Today in business, I feel like business owners are supposed to use every channel available to market their products, connect with their tribe, etc, etc.  And I don’t know if you’ve checked lately, but there are a cornucopia of social media channels to use: Facebook, Instagram, e-mail, blogs, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, Periscope . . . and that’s just the ones I can remember.  It’s overwhelming, for me anyway.  Currently we here at Patch Abilities, Inc headquarters, use 5 channels to connect to our tribe.  Jeeze, I had to look at the list and count how many we currently use and I am suprised we use that many.  I know there are apps and gadgets that help you to “simplify” posting on all these platforms, but it still feels a bit overwhelming to know we’re expected to consistently post great content on all these channels every week/day.

Sigh. Take a deep breath. Creating content for 5 channels feels like a mountain of work for me. I have my trusty sidekick Sabra (our Rockstar Customer Service Gal) to help create and post content. But honestly, I still feel overwhelmed with the entire load of content creation.

Why do I feel like social media is this gigantic mountain of work that I quite honestly, do not “want” to do? Shouldn’t I enjoy creating great social media content about my biz? I mean, I’m full of creativity, I’m a quilt pattern designer for crap’s sake.  Then guilt starts to set in – guilt that I don’t enjoy the social media aspect of business and I’m supposed to enjoy it.  I am supposed to love posting on social media right?  Isn’t there a law somewhere that says so?

I then compare myself, by business to other pattern designers who are kickin ass and taking names on Facebook and that never ends well, when you begin comparing yourself to others. Nope, never good.

So, I hate this feeling that I am not living up to my “pattern designer responsibilities”.  That, and my gut tells me we NEED to have a strong presence on social media to stay in the game.  “Okay Julie, why does creating social media content feel overwhelming”, I ask myself, attempting to solve this riddle. The answer is multi-level.

First, I come to the realization that I don’t have clearly defined goals for each social media channel.  Well, sure that makes sense that it feels like a mountain then. If I don’t know where I’m headed, how can I map out how to get there? Not having clear goals is the most obvious and easily managed answer. . . . now for the rest of the answer. . .. promise you won’t laugh when you see this.

I keep a disorganized office space nearly 99% of the time. This causes a disorganized mental space for me as well.  Pictures are a must in any blog post, so I just took 2 pics of my office/sewing room/design studio to show you what I’m talking about here.

Um, all I can say is please don’t show these pictures to anyone else!

I’ll give you a minute until you stop laughing.. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . still laughing? . . . . . . . . . . . ..  . . . . .


All good now?

I bet you’re asking  yourself “how in Haiti does she get ANY patterns designed and published in that space?”  That’s a valid question, my friend.

Little elves sneak in during the night and it all magically appears in the morning.  You should get some elves!

So, where in tarnation was I?  Okay, back to my epiphany as to why I haven’t been able to get my social media shit together.

I figured out the answer!

  • I must have clearly defined goals for each social media channel
  • AND my work space must be organized with a clear desk, with everything in it’s place. (uh, which you can clearly see, it is not at this moment)

Problem solved!  Right!  Yep, easy peazy.  I’ll just sit down, write out my goals for each social media channel and then clean my office and clear off my desk.

Until next week, when my desk looks like that again. Ugh.  Changing your habits isn’t as easy as that. I’m gonna have to work at this. Here’s a good start though, check out this list of goals:

  • take 10 minutes at end of each day to clean off my desk
  • put in place a couple of baskets to house things like papers/projects IN PROGRESS, etc. – to keep all papers organized
  • purge thru all the crap on those bookcases – is there anything that can go?
  • create a storage space for all my large wool pieces – stacked so I can see the colors for designing
  • find a home for everything that’s on the floor

I think that’s a dang good start.  Want me to post “after” pictures when I’m done?

Wanna know something?  I feel better having written this blog post. A little weight has lifted simply by letting it all out of my head. Coming up with clearly defined solutions makes it even better!

My guess is that you are creative too and if that’s true, then you too may experience your own disorganization in some way.  But here’s the thing about creative brains – – we’re not always organized, but we feel more creative and inspired when we are in a space where everything feels in it’s place (uncluttered if you will).  So, knowing this about myself will keep me motivated to get and stay organized.  Will my work space be neat and tidy 100% of the time, probably not, but I will keep the word “TIDY” at the front of my thoughts from now on.

I’d like to back up a tad and say that of all my social media channels, I’ve always had a clear goal for my blog and that’s because it’s stated right at the top of the blog. This is where I give you a peek into my world of Patch Abilities.  This is my channel where I get personal, share my challenges, my triumphs, my family.  And, you must like it because you’re still reading.  So for that I say “thank you” for reading.  Perhaps you’ll find something useful in here, or at the very least a good chuckle.

Thanks for peeking in on me.



Lessons Learned in Business

Why am I so inconsistent . . . . always?

I think about this question a lot.  “Why am I so inconsistent?”  Unless you count being consistently inconsistent, that is.

This question arose in me again today as a result of a diet/lifestyle change I recently bought into.  I was watching podcasts on women entrepreneurs, to surround myself with successful people (i.e. one’s tribe) and an inspiring interview came on with Natalie Jill.  She told of her rise from overweight single mom, deeply in debt, no money to put gas in her car, to 6-pack abs, new hot hubby, 7 figure income, I’ve got life by the tail journey.  It’s inspiring like I said. One of her keys to success is helping people change their diet for the better.

My current story is similar  . . . . minus the 6 pack abs and 7 figure income . . . . I’ve kind of got a hot hubby when he gets around to getting a hair cut and shave.  My dilemma is this stupid “pooch” which has formed on my lower tummy, shortly after having 2 babies and reaching 40.  And this stupid “pooch” will not go away, no matter what.  I have decided I will not chalk it up to “what happens when you get older”, and I will not simply accept “the pooch”.  I felt so inspired that if Miss Natalie could lose the baby bulge at 40, then surely I could at 45.  Right?  I mean, it’s not like I want to transform myself into a 6-pack ab sportin’ hot momma, I just want this stupid “pooch” to GO AWAY!  (I get a little worked up about it, sorry for yelling)  So I decided to give ole “Natalie Jill’s 7-day Jump Start a shot, which was so conveniently easy with one click of the mouse and a mere $27 out of my pocket.  A cheap investment in my “pooch” I thought.

And . . . . here I am on day 3.  I’ve followed her meal suggestions (for the most part) and on days 1 & 2, I felt confident that I could do this and make a long term dietary change that would include much more veggies, lettuce, kale, spinach, fish and chicken, just to name a few.  Her meal suggestions are mostly realistic – quite a bit different from my current meals, but mostly realistic.  I ate a hunk of fish or chicken at lunch with a big salad and guess what?  By day 3, I feel like I’ve eaten 10 pounds of meat and way too much lettuce/spinach.  Needless to say, I was beginning to tip . . . . . over and fall off the wagon.

Then, as I was stitching this morning, I turned on Ted Talks from You Tube and listened to fantastic speakers about “mindset”.  And one that stuck out to me (I watched it 3 times) was how “mindset” is life changing. In fact, one speaker presented research conducted on how mindset alone can change one’s physical body, without increasing excercise or changing diet.  Hmm.  I’m intrigued.  In particular, what stuck to me like glue was that we all have a “hunger hormone” that is secreted/increases when we need food, telling our brains to find food.  Once we find food and begin eating, that hormone level decreases to tell our brains to stop eating, and then our metabolism kicks in to begin burning all the food/fuel we’ve just consumed.  Our metabolism is directly related to the levels of our hunger hormone, so if the hunger hormone is high, our metabolism is low, and likewise if our hunger hormone levels are low (we’ve eaten a great meal) then our metabolism kicks it up a notch (is high).  The kicker, was that folks that were given a “healthy” milkshake (0 fat, 60 calories, yada yada), versus a “delightful indulgence” milkshake (50g fat, 300 calories, etc) would secrete MORE hunger hormone (i.e slower metabolism) after consuming the healthy shake. The folks that got the yummy scrummy milkshake had much LESS hunger hormone (i.e. much higher metabolism).  Both milkshakes were the exact same!  The ones that thought they were drinking a yummy scrummy loaded milkshake, well their metabolisms were rockin and the ones drinking the healthy shakes were doggin it.  Hmmm, really intrigued now.

After this, it was time for lunch.  And after learning about mindset, I decided that it’s not realistic of me to think I’m going to eat a piece of fish and a salad for lunch and my metabolism will kick it up a notch and help me burn off this “pooch”.  Hell no!  What that Ted Talk on mindset showed me is that I can eat a yummy lunch which I enjoy and I’ll get more out of it, than I would out of my fish ‘n salad lunch.  I felt a bit deprived on fish/salad, so my metabolism would follow suit.

As I sat on the porch eating my bologna, ham, pepperoni, cheese, lettuce w/plenty of mayo sub sandwich with a lovely handful of Cheetos, I got to thinking about how I am inconsistent at so many things.

I enjoyed my lunch today, I mean really enjoyed it.  My fish/chicken lunches had been tasty, but not “oh yum”.

I’m inconsistent and that is okay. And now I know I can simply mentally envision my pooch shrinking and by the power of my subconscious brain it will magically begin to do so.  Yay! I love magic.

I’m consistent on the things that matter; loving my little boys, giving to others, being thankful, telling those that matter how much i love them.  And I’m inconsistent on all of the rest, including my work – – which is a whole other blog post – ha!.

I’m good with that.


Lessons Learned in Business

When you don’t have an IT department, but need one fast

Oh my, we business owners wear a lot of hats don’t we.

MM703 COPY It’s a wonder our heads don’t crush under the weight of all the hats we’re expected to wear . . . . especially when we’re in the beginning years of our business.  I mean, we don’t have a pot full of cash to just hire the right people to fit all those hats, so we do it ourselves, or at least we try.  Sometimes we fail, other times we just squeak by, and once in a while we try on a hat and discover we like it.  Though, I admit, most of the hats I’ve worn over the years, I’d rather not have had to wear.

I want to take a moment to talk about some lessons I’ve learned in business.  Patch Abilities came into existence in 2004, after I navigated the first major fork in my path.  Thankfully, I took the right path and ended up on this fantastic journey of owning a business.  A journey I would not trade for anything.  But this journey comes with many many lessons I’ve had to learn.  Some, the hard way and some the easy way.  I believe we are all in business for one core reason, and that is to make a good living thru selling a product, service or knowledge that will better the world we live in.  That said, I am happy.  No, make that passionate, about openly sharing any lessons I’ve learned, if it will help a fellow business owner.

Now, back to the mountain of hats.  One of the hats I hate, wait, I better put it in all caps because I hate it so much. I HATE wearing the IT hat!  Call it internet technology, computer tech, whatever, but I hate it.  I don’t understand it one tiny bit and anytime I’ve tried to muddle thru it, even with the help of some IT dude on the phone, I just plain suck at it.  Yeah, I said suck because no other word describes it better than that.

So, I’m pretty sure that many of you are not IT literate folk either, so what in tarnation do we without an IT department, when we need one asap?  Well, I bought one.  Yep, bought one.  Here in our office we have 2 main computers and both of them need to be running in tippy top shape and kept safe from the crazy-loony-hackers.  To keep them safe, I trust Kaspersky.  I am not in any way affiliated with them, just use ’em and trust ’em.  Like I said, I am happy to share what I’ve learned and what I trust.

So, we have Kaspersky protection for internet, yada yada.  Well, my computer hard drive was slowly dying a month ago, as the trusty Kaspersky helper told me on the phone as she was examining my computer.  She advised me to get their Premium support which provides IT support on all of our computer systems, for a mere $169.99 (for 1 year).

Seriously?  I can have IT support at my fingertips anytime for just $169.99?!  Seriously?  I kept asking her that.  Once I got over being stunned that I could purchase unlimited IT support for less than $200 bucks, I quickly signed up.  And let me affirm that it was the best money I’ve ever spent on IT support.  They are there when we needed help setting up a new computer, when we needed to reinstall software, when we needed to add a printer.  This service rocks and I don’t have to wear the damn hat!  Woo Hoo!  I simply pick up the phone.

Buy an IT department, for less than $200.  That’s my biz lesson for today.  It’s just what I’ve learned, what works fantastic for us and what I trust.  I hope it helps you today too.