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It’s All About the Presentation

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of business books. Even though they aren’t directed to the professional machine quilter, I can always find a takeaway or two to apply to my business.  Recently, the book “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson made a huge impression on me. A takeaway that really opened my eyes was Steve Jobs’ passion for presentation. He felt that opening an Apple product should be an experience, something that really enforced the value of the product.  I thought back to the various Apple products that I have purchased and opened in the past (including this MacBook Air that I am writing this on) and realized that the presentation was spot on.

Like most books that I read, I ask myself, “how can I apply this to my business?”. It was a humbling question to say the least. I happen to do most of my quilting for customers out-of-state, so I ship a lot of quilts. At that point, most of the quilts were folded and wrapped in clear trash bags (ugh, I shudder just remembering that!) and sent in reused boxes (boxes that other customers had sent their quilt in).

I am confident in my quilting, but I knew that I could improve on the presentation of the finished quilt. I wanted my customers to feel that opening the box containing their finished quilt was an experience. With my assistants, Jessica and Ruth, I decided to improve upon the way my customers’ quilts were returned. After a little trial and error, here is what we came up with:

1. The quilt is carefully folded with the bottom of the quilt facing out.

quilt presentation

This is done for two reasons. First, doing this provides the quilt with a little extra protection. Secondly, it keeps the quilting on the front a secret until the recipient unfolds it.

2. The quilt is carefully packed inside a clear cellophane bag.

shipping quilts

It’s a little hard to see in this picture, but each quilt it carefully tucked into a clear cellophane bag. This protects it from the elements on the off-chance the box is damaged. It also ensure that the contents of the bag are completely visible.

3. Include an address card.

lost and found quilt card

Before I seal up the bag, I include a card with the recipients address. On the off-chance the box is damaged and the contents fall out, the address of the recipient will be sealed inside the bag with the quilt. Not only is this an added layer of protection for the quilt, it shows your customer that you are as concerned about their quilt as they are!

4. Use a custom seal to close the bag.

IMG_3515

You may not want to invest in a custom sticker to seal the bag, but I feel that it helps solidify the presentation of opening the quilt.

5. Pack in a new box.

IMG_3516

Once the quilt is packed up safe and sound, it is packed into a brand new box. Justifying the expense of a new box took me a little time, but I wanted to be able to trust that the box would be new and would deliver the quilt safe and sound. Once packed carefully, it’s on its way back to its home and, hopefully, to a satisfied customer!

What about you?

In the quilting business, there is a lot of competition. Doing a few things to help you stand out can really help you rise above the rest. Even if you don’t ship your quilts, what can you do to help improve the presentation of your customers’ quilts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Comments on It’s All About the Presentation

  1. I always fold my customer quilts really neatly with hopefully no tatty ends hanging out although I do not trim quilts anymore as most customers preferred not. I use a large strong paper bag with cord handles from BeeDee Bags (Australia) and have a sticker on them. I think they look great and professionally printed stickers are reasonably cheap as well as the bags (500). I have only mailed one lot of customer quilts but will use the cellophane next time, great idea.

  2. LeeAnn Terry // June 20, 2014 at 12:49 pm // Reply

    Angela, I love the idea of using the cellophane bags to wrap the quilt in. I’ve been looking at the ULine website, and can’t decide which bag (or type of bag) looks similar to what you’re using. I was also wondering about the size. I do everything from baby quilts on up to king size. I know it’s a lot to ask, but would you happen to know the model number of the bag (or bags) you use? Also wanted to let you know that you’re quilting mentor! I would have never gotten into quilting for the public without the incredible knowledge and skill you so selflessly share with the quilting community!

  3. Monika Openshaw // June 14, 2014 at 10:51 am // Reply

    I am just in the formative stages of starting my business, so I appreciate this post and website. As a customer, I can relate to this article. I once used a quilter that I had found online, and lovingly and carefully packed up my project for shipping. I wrapped my project in tissue paper, double bagged it in clean new white trash bags, and placed it in a in a new box. When my quilt was returned to me, it was in a filthy, beat up box with no wrapping for protection. I was crushed. I paid for the shipping, and expected it returned in the same manner it was sent. Charge $1 more and buy a new box! Needless to say, at that point, it didn’t matter what her quilting looked like. I never used her service again. Little things matter.

  4. Sandra Darlington // April 8, 2014 at 6:47 am // Reply

    I really like your suggestions and the ones submitted by your readers/followers. I never meet customers in my home studio, as it is far too small with all of my equipment and furniture, such as my desk and chair, cutting table, sewing machine in a cabinet, TV on a cart, three bookcases, saddle stool, etc. You get the picture. So, I meet people at Guild meetings, sometimes in their homes, but mostly in several LQS. I bought lime green plastic bags from U-Line that I use. The are large and have a build in handle. I just fold their quilt neatly and put it in my lime green bag. I also tuck their invoice into the bag which I print on lime green paper. Lime green isn’t necessarily my favorite color, but it does stand out. :) I did have two customers who immediately yanked their quilts out of my plastic bags and let me know clearly that they never use plastic because it is so bad for the environment. They also never brought me another quilt. That said, I still like plastic. I deliver quilts in the rain, as well as the sunshine. The plastic keeps their quilt dry. At Guild meetings I have seen over several years, people with quilts in pillow cases sitting on the floor waiting for Sew & Tell, have their quilts stained because coffee was accidentally kicked over that was sitting on the floor. The cotton bag quickly absorbed the spill and transferred it onto the quilt inside. My plastic bags won’t do that. When I deliver commissioned quilts I either buy an extra yard of fabric and make a matching pillow case to return their quilt in and then I buy coordinating wide ribbon at JoAnn’s and tie the ribbon around the pillow case. It really looks like a present that they get to open and hopefully gasp in delight. Sometimes I just buy the ribbon and wrap the folded quilt like a present. The decision depends on my profit and if I want to spend an additional $11 to buy the fabric for the pillow case. Sometimes (only on commissioned quilts) I just use the ribbon to tie the quilt and then I buy Orvus Paste. which is a nice quilt wash, and I present that with the quilt. On commissioned quilts I always provide washing instructions and storage instructions which they can “take or leave.” It makes me feel good to offer these suggestions to my customers. When I first started, I bought 50 large, zip closed bags with handles from Virginia Longarm. I embroidered my company name on each one and returned my first 50 quilts in them (one to a customer). There were two pockets on the outside. One was for my business card and the other was for an invoice. Yep, they were lime green with dark purple embroidery thread for my name. Customers really liked them. For me they were mainly a marketing tool when I started because they were too expensive to continue with. I am now considering the reusable bags from U-Line, similar to the ones from the grocery store and other shops. They would be the size of a brown paper supermarket bag, but with handles and an open top. U-Line sells them and I could also get them in lime green and have my name screen printed on the front. But, I am not quite in the spot where I want to spend the money on them now. I rarely ship quilts, but I will keep those suggestions in mind for the occasional times I do.

  5. Do you trim your customer quilts before returning them? If so how close to the top do you trim and do you return the trimmings?

    • Sandra Darlington // April 8, 2014 at 9:40 pm // Reply

      I always ask the customer if she wants her quilt trimmed. Some do and some don’t. Generally when I trim a customer’s quilt I trim about one inch from their quilt top edge. They will need to go back and re-trim (some will trim before adding their binding and some will apply the first side of their binding before trimming), but they won’t have all of the bulk from the extra backing and batting to deal with. The quilt also looks so much better when the customer first sees it. But, as I said, about half of my customers do not want me to trim their quilt at all.

  6. Would you mind sharing where you get your stickers? Great info! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Angela Walters // March 18, 2014 at 8:20 am // Reply

      I bought the stickers through uline.com. They are the custom labels and are much cheaper than buying stickers through printing sites. Hope that helps!

  7. Thanks for sharing all this awesome info. Where do you get your stickers?

  8. Zoë's Mimi // March 14, 2014 at 12:30 pm // Reply

    I used a quilter one time, working out of her renovated garage, who presented the finished quilt laid out on a bed. It was awesome!

  9. Do you remember the size bags you ordered from uline? What do you think would be the best size to use?

  10. This is something I’ve been debating, too! Most of my projects are picked up at my house or delivered to a guild meeting, but I still think I need to up my game on presentation. I’ve been thinking of ordering some brown kraft paper bags and having a stamp made with my logo. I struggle with the not reusing of the bag the customer gave it to me in, but I think I should probably just suck it up and do it. Maybe find a fun color of tissue paper to put in the bag so it’s almost like a gift when I give it to them.

  11. Would you mind sharing where you purchase your bags from? Thanks!

  12. I also ship most of my quilts and do just as you do, except the new box thing, and I wrap the quilt in tissue paper and put the label on that. I like the idea of a new box. I could see doing a top open box that has the flaps the slide into the sides and front (i’m sure there is a fancy name for this type of box), and maybe even having your logo directly printed (or stamped, or a big sticker) onto the box itself. I have actually stopped folding my quilts after seeing another quilter talking about shipping their quilts for competition and how they roll them and then roll it around itself inside the box, so I have started doing that to prevent fold creases in the quilts, which also means i’m not currently doing the tissue paper. I need to think of a way to make this look “prettier” when opening up, but ultimately I love that once they have their quilt out of the box it doesn’t need to be ironed to rid itself of those fold creases. I have always loved little extras inside of my packages, so i’ve been trying to think of something nice to include inside, a sticker or calendar or something along those lines. Customers spend a lot to have a quilt quilted, so I want them to feel their worth in spending the money, not just on the quilting itself, but on the presentation of the product when it’s returned.

  13. I wrap them in tissue paper and put them in a bag, like a gift.

  14. What if you have customers come to your house? Can you give some suggestions for how to “package” those nicely without spending a lot of money?

  15. Thank you for this, Angela. It has implications beyond the quilting business.

I love comments!