“It was my daughter’s brainchild,” says Hazel Rimmasch of Vintage Door, the crochet edge bias tape business she co-owns with her daughter, Arlene Cook. “Three years ago she was looking through some of the things my mother had sewn and admired the bias tape she’d used. It had a crocheted edge. She found a few leftover packages that must have been 30 or more years old,” Hazel recalls. “It was made by Wright’s. She searched for it, but they no longer manufacture it.”
Arlene was determined to find a similar product to use in her own sewing projects. First she asked her mother to crochet edging onto some existing bias tape, “But it just wasn’t the same,” Hazel says. So Arlene began searching for an existing manufacturer. Eight months later she finally found a factory in Europe that produced a crochet edge bias tape she was satisfied with.
In July of 2013 Hazel and Arlene opened an Etsy shop together to sell the bias tape directly to quilting enthusiasts. Customers loved the vintage charm and sales were good. Within a few months the pair reached out to three local quilt shops in their Salt Lake City neighborhood to see if they’d like to carry the bias tape as well. “They loved it and it did very well,” Hazel says.
Blue floral crochet-edged bias tape from Vintage Door.
When Arlene saw that this year Spring Quilt Market was going to be in their hometown she decided the time was right to invest in a trade show. “We thought we’d try to get some new wholesale accounts in the Western states,” Hazel says. They registered for a booth and in January began sewing samples, eventually making about a dozen quilts plus several small projects such as pillows. They used the binding to make double gauze baby blankets and a minky blanket as well.
Before the show they put some thought into their strategy. “At first we figured it would be best to place a large order in advance of the trade show so that we’d have plenty of product on hand ready to ship,” Hazel says. “But then we realized that we really didn’t know what people in all the various demographics would buy. Talking to friends it seemed it would be okay to wait to place the order so that’s what we decided to do.”
Arlene in the Vintage Door booth.
Bindings on the display in the Vintage Door booth.
Hazel says this turned out to be a wise decision. “On Etsy the polka dot print is our bestseller, but at the show it was the florals and the solids.” They placed the order with their manufacturer the day after the show and told shops that orders will arrive in 3-5 weeks.
Polka dot crochet-edge bias tape from Vintage Door.
The Vintage Door booth turned out to be tremendously popular. “There were a few other booths selling trim, but we were the only booth at Market selling just bias tape,” Hazel says. “We didn’t have a quiet moment until 5:00 pm each day of the show. We could barely look up.”
“At one point we did look up and this group of people dressed all in black came over and surrounded the booth,” Hazel says. “We were really busy and I thought, ‘Uh oh. We’ve done something wrong and we’re being shut down.’ I looked at my daughter and her face had lost all its color.” It turned out that the people dressed in black were staff members of Quilts, Inc. and they’d come to award Vintage Door the Best New Exhibitor Booth Award.
Hazel and Arlene of Vintage Door accept their booth award.
For Vintage Door attending Quilt Market was the key to scaling their business. Although they’d had a successful Etsy shop for three years, having a booth at the trade show got their product in front of quilt shops all over the country in a way that they couldn’t have done on their own. By the end of Market they’d opened 47 new wholesale accounts in 43 states.
“It was a fabulous experience,” Hazel says. “We worked out butts off, but it was fabulous.”