Today we’d like to introduce you to Martha Walker.
Martha, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have been creative all of my life, and couldn’t wait to major in art in college! I particularly love to draw and sew, and in 1992 decided to combine the two, and design quilts. I began exhibiting my quilts in several international juried quilt competitions, and in my ten years of exhibitions, was fortunate to win several cash awards and ribbons. In 2007 I began my pattern business, under the banner of Wagons West Designs, with the name paying tribute to a great grandmother and a great great grandmother who traveled west in covered wagons.
I launched my pattern business with my first independently published book, Vintage Christmas, which was extremely successful. I have since independently published two more books, Annie’s Scrapbag and Betsy’s Scrapbag, in my recently trademarked Scrapbag Girl® series. In 2011, my book, Be Merry, Quilts and Projects for your Holiday Home, was published by Kansas City Star Quilts, now a part of C & T Publishing.
Since 2000, my quilts and needlework designs have been widely featured in magazines such as Quilter’s Newsletter, Quiltmaker, Quiltmania, Quilt Country, Primitive Quilts and Projects Magazine, and Simply Vintage. In 2012, I was invited to design a line of fabrics for Studio e Fabrics, and have since designed three lines for both Studio e Fabrics and the sister company, Henry Glass Fabrics & Co. Just recently, my husband and I opened a small retail shop and studio in Wickenburg, Arizona, where we are opened on Fridays and Saturdays.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
When I first started out, I intended to confine myself to selling wholesale to shops and distributors, which worked well the first few years. But as time went on, the industry started to change, and I felt the need to reach out to the end users directly in order to compete, I began selling online through my website, and using social media to promote my brand. Keeping up with my social media outlets, Facebook, blog, and now Instagram, has definitely been a struggle, but is definitely necessary. And promoting myself has always been a struggle, as I am naturally an introvert, as are many artists.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Wagons West Designs – what should we know?
My business, Wagons West Designs, is primarily a pattern publishing business, I design quilts, wool applique projects, punch needle embroidery, and other needlework projects, write the patterns, and sell the patterns in the form of themed pattern books, or individual patterns. I am also a licensed designer for Henry Glass Fabrics & Co., where my fabric designs compliment my quilt designs and style.
I am best known for my original applique designs, which have a vintage/folk art look, and my themed pattern books, which include patterns for a variety of needlework types. I am most proud of having customers from all over the world who love my designs. It makes me happy to create projects that others want to make!
I feel that what sets me apart from others, is not only my individual style, but also my attention to quality design. And as far as my writing, I’m very particular about writing clear and comprehensive instructions, and I feel that my expertise in the technical aspect of each craft is a fantastic benefit to the customer.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Persistence and flexibility, it has been an extremely difficult economy since I launched Wagons West Designs, and it’s easy to become discouraged. And in that vein, I don’t know where I heard it, but the saying “if it’s not working, do something different”. is something I try to keep in mind with respect to marketing, which I find is the hardest part of being in business. The fun part is coming up with a great idea and seeing it come to life – the hard part is getting it out there. That’s the flexibility part – being open to trying something different.
- Betsy’s Scrapbag $25.95
- Address: Wagons West Quilt Shop & Studio
1141 W. Wickenburg Way Wickenburg, AZ 85390
- Website: www.wagonswestdesigns.com
- Instagram:I’m on Instagram but can’t find the url
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/WagonsWestDesigns/
- Other: www.wagonswestdesigns.blogspot.com