Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Preston.
Laura, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I taught myself how to quilt in 2013, about 8 months into traveling around North America in our Airstream trailer. I was desperately searching for a creative outlet that would end up with something practical for our small space. I came across a handful of modern quilters on Instagram and it totally clicked – quilts were both useful and beautiful. I didn’t have a sewing machine at the time, but I made my first quilt completely by hand thanks to some blog posts and YouTube videos and even though it was pretty terrible, I was hooked. I couldn’t even finish a quilt before design and start on the next one.
After a year and a half of making quilts for friends and honing my skills, I decided I’d love nothing more than to make quilts for a living, so I launched Vacilando in early 2015 as a side hustle. Just a few months later, I was unexpectedly laid off my day job and took that as a sign it was time to take the leap and quilt full time.
It’s been a slow, uphill climb to get where I am today (even though I feel like there’s still a long way to go!), but it felt right to grow organically and not get myself in over my head. This is my first experience running a business, so it’s been all learning as I go and figure it out along the way.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It hasn’t been a wildly bumpy road, but it’s definitely had its ups and downs. Starting a business is HARD and unsteady at first. There were months where I had no sales. Launches that I was so excited about, but all I heard back was crickets. It can be really discouraging and in the first couple years, I felt like I wanted to throw in the towel at least once a week. But then when something good happened – someone bought a quilt, I got a custom inquiry or an interview request from a publication – it felt like I was back on top and loved running a business. Work has become more steady in the past year, but I’ve learned to roll with the ups and downs. Appreciating, exploring and reflecting during the slow times and trying to find balance during the busy times.
For anyone starting a business, persistence and perseverance are absolutely necessary. If you quit, you’ll never know what your business could become. Pivot, adapt and change, but don’t give up.
Please tell us about Vacilando Quilting Co.
I design and make modern textiles inspired by travel. Currently, I make quilts, pillow and canvas goods by hand in my mobile Airstream studio, which is in a new place every 2-3 weeks. I specialize in minimalist quilts that use simple shapes and solid colors to create graphics and evocative textile art that you can pass down to your kids someday. I’m proud to be carrying on the tradition of quilt making, evolving it as an art and craft to make quilts relevant and covetable for the modern home. My aesthetic, use of color and the fact that I make almost everything in my mobile studio makes Vacilando, unlike any other brand I’ve come across.
Do you think there are structural or other barriers impeding the emergence of more female leaders?
The textile industry and the quilting community are both female dominated, which has made the traditional barriers to entry and growth basically non-existent. Both communities have been incredibly welcoming, supportive and helpful, which I think is rare. The bigger hurdle is changing people’s perception about quilts and quilters – we aren’t all grandmothers and quilts can be art. It’s also been a struggle to be taken seriously – when I tell people I make quilts, they tend to assume it’s a cute hobby and not a real business.
- Quilts: $250 – $1,800
- Pillows: $75 – $175
- Canvas: $30 – $100
- Website: https://www.vacilandoquilting.co/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/vacilandoquilting
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vacilandoquiltingco/
John Ellis, Lindsay Hollinger