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Meet Tisha Copeland of Not Your Mama’s Quilt Store in Plano

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tisha Copeland.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story?
I’ve been sewing since I was 5 years old, accompanying my mother and grandmother to the fabric stores then coming home to create our very trendy clothing. Fast forward many years and I still love fabrics and sewing, creating something with my hands. While sewing clothes aren’t as economical as it used to be, I wasn’t ready to put away my sewing machine forever. Good thing! Because I discovered quilting and my hobby was reborn and recharged!

In my “new quilter” excitement, I would show my girlfriends the projects I completed and they, in turn, wanted to learn how to quilt and sew too. Once a week, I was taking my friends on field trips to local quilting stores and coming home to teach them at my dining room table. My house started to look like a workroom and my husband wanted the dining room table back, so the next logical step was opening a retail location where I could sell the fabric I loved and continue teaching classes.

Excited but practical, I opened my first store in a small boutique-like setting located inside another retail location in 2014. After two years in this bedroom-sized space, I was busting at the seams and ready to make the leap to a larger location in a Plano shopping center. I moved to my new location in April 2016. The new store allows us a sales floor flushed with natural light to show off the beautiful fabrics that we carry and a brightly lit classroom for 10.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Ha! No, it hasn’t been a smooth road. Starting your own business rarely is easy. Loving your product, loving your location, loving the people, that’s the easy part. Making it work every day, that’s where the challenge is. I was cautioned that opening a small retail store in the midst of big-box discount stores may not be a good idea. But, I am sure there is a niche in the retail business world for my type store. I offer something that you can’t get over the internet or from a giant retailer. I offer feelings!

What?! Feelings? (This is where you roll your eyes.) The Feels. Eye roll. But, someone who sews, someone who creates art with their hands, the artist, must FEEL their medium. A sewer, an artist, wants to FEEL the weight of the fabric, the texture of the fabric, wants to see the color of the fabric and most importantly the quality of the fabric. You can’t do that over the internet. You can only do this in person. This is where Not Your Mama’s Quilt Store comes in. In our store, you can experience the fabric. The feelings of friendship, excitement, community, creativity are an extra bonus for the customer.

Yes, competing with retail giants and internet discounters is sobering and tiresome and discouraging. A small business doesn’t get the perks that major companies get for moving their businesses to the area. We don’t get the discounts that are afforded to giant retailers for purchasing inventory in the thousands. But, as a small business owner, I have the contentment of not having a “job”. I can spend time with sewing friends doing something we love. I get to experience the joy of seeing what others have created and admire their achievements in their artistry. I get to introduce this sewing skill to new people every day, watch them learn and bloom in talent.

This is where I come back to feelings. I know that sewers always prefer to see and FEEL their fabric in person. This need to FEEL is where a brick and mortar quilt store is needed. This is a hole I can fill.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Not Your Mama’s Quilt Store – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I’m often asked how I came up with my store’s name. I tell people that I wanted the name to instantly convey that it wasn’t a “traditional” quilt store. When people think of quilting, they always say “my grandmother did that”. They remember quilts made from flour sack fabric and star patterns made in colors of Early American décor. That’s not what I carry in my store, that isn’t our style. After discussion with 20 of my closest friends, a few bottles of wine and weekend of retreating, Not Your Mama’s Quilt Store’s name was born.

At Not Your Mama’s Quilt Store, you’ll find bright fabric colors and patterns from designers around the world. We stay in the know by watching the same designers that our customers watch on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. We break from the sewing rules that something MUST be done a certain way instead, encouraging the freedom to be unconventional. And, lest you think that all this greatness is perpetuated by one person, I can tell you that it takes my entire team to keep my doors open. My employees have shown a dedication to me and the store that continuously fans new ideas implements new strategies and grows the business month over month. I might be the captain of the ship but, they are the muscle that keeps this ship moving forward.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
The retail landscape has changed drastically in the last ten years with the debut of Amazon and other internet retail giants but, so has the imagination! An artist is exposed to handcraft via social media like Pinterest and Instagram and they want to see and feel the product or supplies in person. I predict and plan that as more people see D.I.Y. sewing projects, they will think, “I can make that!” and we’ll be quilt store right here in the neighborhood to guide them, encourage them and cheer them on!

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Getting in touch: VoyageDallas is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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