Head of the Class
by Marcia Barker, Vice President of Education for Quilts, Inc.
HEADIN’ OUT TO KANSAS CITY…WITH A DOG TALE!
Spring Quilt Market in Kansas City—the place for professionals to meet & greet, conduct business, and work together to advance the industry. It is that special time set aside each spring to see what’s new in the quilt world and hone those professional skills. And that’s where Education comes in!
I’m always excited to be going back to Kansas City—the Plaza, the museums—and the food!!! But BBQ ribs and burnt ends aside, Kansas City and I have a bit of a family history. I have a family member who has lived there for many years, having arrived there in much the same mindset as those of you who will be joining us as Market—in search of success in a creative business.
As the story goes, Dusty was the second of four boys in a family where sports ruled the dinner table conversation. He had tried his hand at baseball and football, but much preferred to pursue his passion for art. While his parents supported his interest in art, and even located a renowned local artist for private lessons, they also worried that he might find himself with the proverbial tin cup next to his art easel. Would he be able to support himself by following his passion?
His interests focused primarily on portraits and depicting the human form, so he dabbled in cartooning and caricature in addition to the more formal portraiture, eventually opting for a college degree in Medical Illustration. This is a highly technical segment of the art world where painstaking precision and accuracy produce detailed anatomical drawings to grace the pages of medical textbooks.
His talents grew and his class projects gained him recognition for his outstanding creativity in producing everything from intricate lightbulb packaging to sport memorabilia—and then his career took an unexpected turn. Based on the quality and diversity of his portfolio, Hallmark Cards (based in KC, of course) hired him while still in his junior year. Mind you, this was long before it was possible to do online classes or work remotely, so he would complete his degree by correspondence after relocating from Tucson.
He was in the big leagues now, employed in one of the most creative environments in American business! But he paid attention to more than just his art. He learned the business. He learned management skills. He learned to anticipate trends and customer needs/preferences. In short, he never stopped his professional education. Fast forward through the years and Dusty would find himself as Senior Vice President of Creative at Hallmark, overseeing all of the creative forces that come together to bring us the quality products that we have associated with this brand for so many years. It’s safe to say, gone were his parents’ worries about the tin cup.
There’s so much here that parallels the journey of a business person in the quilting industry. Passion provides direction, but education breeds success. Once you make the leap from hobby to business, it’s no longer just about knowing what you like to do, it’s about learning what you need to do. Our Business Seminars and Boot Camp are here to do just that. With speakers sharing their expertise on everything from employee relations, demo & display techniques, and managing quilt events to marketing, e-commerce, social media, fulfillment options, e-mail automation, and self-publishing, there is truly something for everyone.
Kansas City’s Market kicks off with a special panel-format Boot Camp featuring industry veterans that span many aspects of the industry. Cathy McKillip, a former software industry executive turned quilt entrepreneur, has brought her passion for profit to the small business world by applying her business savvy and has now incorporated an e-commerce element. Janice Pope, a former fabric buyer turned fabric sales representative and pattern company owner, knows this industry from the inside-out. Pepper Cory is a former shop owner, as well as author, teacher, and fabric designer who specializes in creative solutions to employee and customer problems. Spending a day with these pros will definitely get you fired up to achieve your next business milestone!
Remember that registration procedures have changed—you can now register online 24/7 and badges will be printed onsite at check-in kiosks. Click here to begin the credentialing/registration process.
So, Dusty is now happily enjoying a retirement dedicated to his art. In fact, I hope to bring him to see our Spring Quilt Market as he can appreciate the artistic industry better than most. I’ve known Dusty since that same college classroom I mentioned in an earlier column. He was the “Mr. Prepared” for those of you who read it. He is my brother-in-law, known as Dusty only within the family, known in the business world by his given name, Paul. Early in his career, he created a series of cards that featured a furry fella as an homage to the family surname—meet “Barkey,” circa 1987 Hallmark Cards—he’s the one smiling back at you from this page.
I hope to see you as I give Dusty the grand tour—either on the show floor or in the classroom. I can assure you that our Education curriculum will continue to provide you with the tools, the resources, the technologies, and the access to set the stage for your success. It’s always our goal that Spring Market will be bursting with creative energy and the buzz of connections being made.
PLEASE NOTE: International Quilt Market is a credentialed trade show and not open to the general public.