Last month I had the opportunity to connect with a great group of four gals in Denver. They banded together and decided to have me come visit them for a private quilting lesson.
While my main purpose was to share some of my favorite quilting designs, we spent quite a chunk of time talking through business related issues. We touched on preventing burnout, scheduling customers and even how to present yourself in a confident manner. They shared their long-term goals with each other and vowed to cheer each other on. If fact, I think the best part of the whole day was watching these ladies come together and form a support group they call the Colorado 4.
It reminded me of how important it is to have a support group. There is something so…..well, magical, about surrounding yourself with a few fellow quilters. In fact, if you don’t have a support group, let me encourage you to consider starting or joining on.
Why should you form a support group?
- Other professional machine quilters just “get it”.
While you may have supportive family and friends, fellow machine quilters know exactly what you are going through, whether it’s good or bad. Lamenting that the tension on your machine is just driving you crazy will make more sense to your group than your friends.
- You can help each other be more successful.
Having a group that you can share your goals with will help make you more successful. It’s as simple as that! You can also refer customers to each, share new-found techniques, and help each other out in tough times.
What does a support group look like?
The answer is…..it depends.
A support group can be molded to fit your situation. The Colorado 4 started a private online Facebook group (which I still drop in on from time to time) but vowed to try to get together on a semi-regular basis. Or perhaps, you have a couple of local quilters that can you can meet with in person. It can be as regulated or as casual as you want. Just find a routine or situation that works for you and your group.
Before I reluctantly left the Colorado 4 (I could have stayed the whole week, we had so much fun!), I left them with a few last encouragements which I will share with you as well.
To ensure a productive group, remember the following:
- Be happy for each other.
You may have heard the saying, “You find out who your friends are when you are going through trials”. But I think that the opposite is just as true. “You find out who your friends are when you are successful”. One person’s success doesn’t make you less successful (this is true in all areas of life, not just quilting). Be truly happy for each and every member of your group as they become more successful along with you.
- Be confidential.
A truly effective support group is a place where you can be vulnerable and honest. A safe place to share your frustrations and trials, your happiest moments and your top-secret achievements. Commit to each other that you will keep the things discussed in your group confidential.
- Be real.
Your support group isn’t a place for you to brag about yourself or hear yourself talk. Spending all your time trying to make yourself look better, won’t actually make you better. On the other hand, being real with your fellow quilters can help you improve.
You also need to speak honestly about your feelings. If someone in your group is asking for constructive criticism, give it….in a nice way of course.
- Give as much as you get.
Give suggestions as much as you ask for them. Offer support as much as you receive it. For a group to really work, it needs to go both ways. If you can find the right group of people, that will be easy and automatic!
Where do I find a support group?
I know it can be hard to find people who you can gel with. Especially while you are running a business, living a life and generally trying to keep up with it all. (In fact, a guest blogger talked about that very thing in this B.O.M.Q. guest post). But even if you are struggling to connect with the right group, just keep at it! All you need to find is 1 or 2 like-minded people. Some places you can try include:
-A professional machine quilters guild
-Local quilt shops and classes
Who’s got your back?
What about you? Do you have a support group of other professional quilters? Are you wanting to form a group, but can’t find other quilters? If so, I hope you will share you comments or thoughts in the comments section or on the Q&A forum.