Kathie Ferland-Medina knew very little about quilting, or the quilt business, when she found herself suddenly running a quilt shop eight years ago.

She had come into it as an investor, but within six months she was the sole proprietor. Today she’s built her Kathie’s Quilt Shoppe in Sanford into a thriving business and a bustling center of the local quilting community.

So forgive her if she sounds a little excited when she talks about the honor (in the quilting world, anyway) her shop has received: It’s one of just 11 quilt shops in the U.S. and Canada to be profiled in the upcoming spring edition of Quilt Sampler magazine, put out by Better Homes and Gardens.

“It’s the Sports Illustrated of quilting and we made it into the swimsuit issue,” said Ferland-Medina. “It’s going to be a three- or four-page spread.”

The spring Quilt Sampler is still being assembled, and won’t be on newsstands until May, but the magazine recently announced the 11 quilt shops that will be profiled, including Kathie’s.

Quilt Sampler’s editor, Jennifer Erbe Keltner, said that in choosing shops to spotlight the magazine’s staff looks for places with great customer service, samples and displays that inspire creativity, “engaging” events and classes and “a passion for all things quilting.”

“What made Kathie’s stand out? Her enthusiasm for quilting and life in general,” said Keltner from her office in Des Moines, Iowa. “The color sensibility and merchandise displays in the shop are outstanding. The connection between (the quilt shop) and the community through several charitable projects is strong.”

The fact that the shop has an inviting location — in a beautiful old farmhouse — helped as well, Keltner said. She said “several hundred” shops submitted application forms to be considered for a spot in the magazine, which is published twice a year. Magazine staff visited the shop, and took photos there, last August.

On Wednesday, as Ferland-Medina talked about her shop, a group of quilters was using a room upstairs to work on projects. Someone was having a birthday, so the quilters all brought food.

Quilting groups can use the space anytime they want, without a fee, Ferland-Medina said. It’s part of the philosophy she’s used to grow her business: Make it as easy and stress-free as possible for people to quilt, and to be in the store.

“I’d only charge a group money if I had an instructor there. I’d rather have people in my store than somewhere else,” Ferland-Medina said. “We have people come in all the time and say ‘I can’t buy anything today.’ They just hang out, and that’s fine with me.”

The article and pictures in Quilt Sampler will amount to great national advertising for the shop, as the magazine has a newsstand distribution of about 330,000, said Keltner.

Keltner also said that she knows from past Quilt Sampler editions that quilting fans will travel far to visit shops they’ve read about. Ferland-Medina said she already has at least one regular customer who drives two hours one-way to visit her shop.

The article will include information on how to order a kit to make a quilt Ferland-Medina designed, called “Almost Paradise.” That design was based on another quilt called “Paradise Beach,” inspired by the beach in Mexico where Ferland-Medina met her husband.

Ferland-Medina, 45, had worked as a paralegal and in human resources before becoming a partner in a quilt shop about eight years ago. She was not a passionate quilter at the time, but had always considered herself “crafty.”

When the partnership dissolved about six months after the shop opened, Ferland-Medina became determined to examine the business and see if she could make it work. She said she knew she had a “great staff” at the time, and was encouraged by that.

“I brought in more fabric and more crafty stuff, started having a lot of classes, and getting involved in the community, in charitable events,” said Ferland-Medina, a native of Sanford.

“We wanted to be able to introduce people to quilting in a stress-free way. We hear all the time from people who’ve tried it, ‘I just don’t have the patience.’ But if someone is taught the right way, the stress can be taken out of it. We pride ourselves on that.”

Sue Mansfield of North Berwick said she knew nothing about quilting four years ago when she and her sister decided to quilt something for their mother. She took a lesson from Kathie’s Quilt Shoppe, and now confesses that she maybe quilts a little too much.

“I thought I’d only make one quilt, but now I’m doing something all the time and a lot of things I don’t finish,” said Mansfield. “It wasn’t frustrating at all to learn here. They make you feel like it’s not a big deal if you make a mistake, because you can usually fix it. It’s not brain surgery.”

 


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