Do you use a regular longarmer for your quilts or do you do it yourself? Many of us aspire to do the longarming ourselves but don't have the room or funds for a longarm machine. But for those lucky enough to have a machine, what do you do now?
If you are a longarmer and want to run your own business, where do you start and what do you do to get going? Connecting with other business owners is daunting. Thankfully there is a community you can join to chat with other women in your position and find out all the information you need to know.
Christina has been a fan of Longarm League for years and is one of the founding members with the group even though she doesn't have her own machine. Hopefully, one day she will add that to her repertoire.
We talked with Jess Zeigler from Longarm League to find out more about her fabulous website and all that Longarm League offers. She is empowering women and business owners to be successful in what they do.
QPW: What is the overall goal for the Longarm League?
Jess: The Longarm League exists to support professional longarm quilters at any stage. Most of us get into the business because we love quilting, and not because we can’t wait to do business-related tasks! We’re often unsure how to start or what we need to do to make our businesses profitable and sustainable over time.
QPW: How did Longarm League come about and how long has it been around?
Jess: I started an email newsletter in the summer of 2019 sharing my best tips for longarm quilting and explaining the way I do things. I would get questions from social media that I would answer, and the newsletter took off from there with organic growth. In August of 2019, we formalized it into a membership format, where I delivered new content to paid subscribers every Wednesday. That’s what we’ve been doing ever since!
QPW: Is there a team behind Longarm League and what do they do?
Jess: Yes, we have a team now. Like many small businesses, I did all of it myself in the beginning, then I had a remote virtual assistant for a short time. Then my husband Josh quit his job to start working with me in January of 2021, and we added our employee Cheryl in 2022.
Josh handles the member and student accounts. Since nearly all of our offers are annual subscriptions, he reaches out to each person to remind them of upcoming charges and helps them make changes, if needed. He manages the website template requests, adds directory entries, troubleshoots email deliverability issues, runs ads, posts updated photos and videos to Google and tracks website traffic, mails our member swag out each year, and manages a TON of household tasks so that I can do what I do.
Cheryl was hired as an Executive Administrative Assistant, but we’re still figuring out a title that better encapsulates everything she does for us! She was essential in setting up our marketing video that thoroughly explains our Rookie Season course. She creates how-to videos for our Wix website template (including frequent updates), she’s great at providing support and guidance to our Rookie Season students, especially when it comes to their website and branding, she helps monitor comments and questions posted in our lessons and online community space, she creates our meeting agendas, assists in hosting Zoom meetings with me, assists me in planning new content for the membership, analyzes survey data, puts together blog posts when we feature members for business spotlights or coaching calls. She was crucial in helping us vend for the first time at QuiltCon, both in the planning and execution. Cheryl has been sewing and quilting for as long as I have and has her own longarm business that she does on the side, so she really gets it!
I spend a lot of time monitoring and responding to questions in our private online forum, I coach and interview people for membership content, write and record lessons that go into the membership resources and Rookie Season class, design new digital pantographs each month (stitch, photograph, blog, and list them for sale), write ALL the emails (I send a weekly recap of new content for the membership and I send a different public email to our mailing list), bookkeeping, and social media posting (except for Pinterest which Birch Tree Creative manages). I respond to emails or delegate as needed. With Cheryl taking more responsibility as she has learned our business, I have been able to sew more quilt tops to audition new pantograph designs. I LOVE having “forced” creativity built into my role.
QPW: Are your members looking for support from other business owners, resources, or the how-to-get-started side of the League?
Jess: All of the above! These days, I’d say we attract more new students who need support from the beginning stages. As folks gain knowledge and experience, they’ll have different needs and will benefit from more advanced resources that we offer in the membership after Rookie Season. We encourage our members to find small “Business Buddy” groups to meet with to encourage and support each other through their business growth.
QPW: We see there is a library of pantographs. Do you make these or do members submit pantos?
Jess: I’ve designed all the digital pantographs for the Longarm League. A few times in the past, I’ve had members who are designers ask if they could distribute a design as a way to market to our group, and I’ve readily agreed. In these cases, it’s a one-time-only distribution. I never keep or sell these designs - the artwork and intellectual property remain theirs.
QPW: Can you tell us more about Rookie Season? How does that work?
Jess: Rookie Season is a course that equips new quilters and/or business owners from the beginning. We have students join the class before buying a machine, and we have experienced quilters who would like support in getting their systems and workflows set up for taking clients efficiently. The course comes with online modules for the foundational steps along with lots of other membership benefits and a year of support included. The best way to learn the course details is by requesting access to our video The Three Pillars of Building a Profitable and Sustainable Longarm Quilting Business.
QPW: What's a fun fact about yourself not related to Longarm League?
Jess: I love a good streak! Part of my daily routine is playing Wordle, doing a Duolingo Spanish lesson, and completing each of the three Daily Good Sudoku puzzles (Good, Arcade, Classic). Later in the day, I play Connections, Contexto, and Spelling Bee with my middle child. If I’m traveling, we play via FaceTime. It’s intense. :)
QPW: Can quilters find a longarm league member to longarm their quilts?
Jess: Anyone can go to our directory and look for a Longarm League member by country and state. Most of our members accept mail-in quilts and they have links in their profiles.
QuiltCon - February 2024 in Raleigh, NC
If you are going to QuiltCon next month, Jess (& company) will be there! Longarm League will be sponsoring Friday night's Social Hour after the show concludes at 6 pm local time and YOU are invited! It's a fun time for socialization... and that's all we care about. You don't have to be a member, you don't need a longarm, you don't even need to have attended the show that day—absolutely everyone is welcome! There will be a cash bar if you want to buy a drink and talk quilting with a whole bunch of passionate people. They'd love to see you there!
Thank you, Jess! Happy Quilting!
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