According to the latest census numbers (2008), women make $0.77 to every man's dollar (1) and the average revenues of majority women-owned businesses were still only 27% of the average of majority men-owned businesses (2). My hope for Sparking Cinderalla is to foster a community of support for female entrepreneurs as well as provide a little juicy insight into who these women are in their everyday lives. After all, as Mama Gena says, "Women are the greatest untapped natural resource in the world."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Arlene Simpson: Sparkling Suzy Studio

Name:  Arlene Simpson, but I am known as Sparkling Suzy
Job Description:  I do it all, from cutting to sewing, quilting, shipping, bookkeeping, webmanaging 
Company Info:

I make quilted items, often incorporating machine embroidery into my designs.  I do pillows, wall hangings, table runners. I have fabric (both yardage and pre-cuts) for sale, and patterns.  I also carry embroidery designs and notions, and the AccuQuilt Go! product line.   I do this out of my home, and started it two years ago.

What made you decide to start your company?
This decision was very much made for me -- I made an exquisite quilt to which I added 3,056 Swarovski crystals which I took on an embroidery cruise to show the person who sold me all the crystals, and right then and there she commissioned me to make one for her.  She is Dawn of and she now has her own quilt behind her vendor booth -- she has added her own crystals to it -- and it shines!  But this made me think that others want quilts made, and also after winning a few red and blue ribbons at the North Texas State Fair and folks commenting they'd like to have creations like this, I ventured forth!

Where do you see your business in five years?
I want to make large embroidered pictures and have found a unique source of patterns and designs to put together to make these pictures.  I will be selling off my notions and fabric portions of my site starting before the end of 2010, and trying out this new idea to see if what I envision turns out the way I want it to.  I also am in the midst of designing some quilt patterns, so I hope before five years, I am creating and selling these embroidered pictures and quilt patterns. 

Who was your inspiration?
There is no one person that was my inspiration, but I receive inspiration with all the beautiful work I see, on Facebook, blogs, quilt stores -- there is so much excitement in this business for creativity and it can be challenging too.  I am constantly amazed at what fabric artists accomplish, which makes new ideas enter my brain, sometimes in the middle of the night. 

What advice do you have for tomorrow's female entrepreneurs?
After working this for two years and figuring out what works and what does not, I would advise anyone venturing into this to have a firm business plan (I thought I did, but it was a process that kept changing) and enough funds to keep you going while the business starts up.  Having a mentor would be a wonderful help, but that's not something I had.  I figured it out as I went, and am only now zero-ing in to this niche artistry, for which I hope there is an audience.  The other piece of advice would be to keep impeccable accounting records from day one (ask me how I know this!). 

Tell us a sexy secret ;-)
My crystal quilt, named Bling Around the Ring, was featured in the July/August issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery.  When I was selected to be featured, I got so excited and when the time came to drop off the quilt (they are in Dallas and I'm not far away), I drove off (and drove for several miles) with the emergency brake on -- talk about excited.  The picture is of me sitting on my quilt, holding the magazine open to the article.


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  2. Arlene, I was challenged to embroider a quilt like you are sitting on - I saw the article in "Designs..." magazine. Now I am looking for the colorful fabric like you used for the sashing and am having a problem finding anything similar. Mind tell me where I can find some like you used?
    Sandra Miller