Listen to a teaser for this episode! Listen to the full interview down below.
On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast we’re talking about building a quilting software business with my guest, Dean Neumann and Penny McMorris, co-founders of Electric Quilt.
Dean and Penny are both from Wisconsin originally. After the Air Force and then graduate school, Dean was a Professor of Mathematics at Bowling Green State University for 25 years. He received a hand-me-down computer from his son in the late 1980s, and quickly became a self-taught computer programmer just for fun.
His wife, Penny McMorris, was the corporate art curator for Owens-Corning Corporation, headquartered in Toledo, Ohio. Penny was a self-taught quilt maker. She taught a few local classes and then talked her local PBS station (WBGU-TV) into letting her produce and host a television series showing quilt history and the best contemporary quilts of that time.
With Penny’s travels for her job and the TV show, Dean became interested in quilts and was motivated to find an enterprise that they could do together. He was the brainstorm behind the idea of creating a software that would allow quilters to pre-plan their designs. The result was the first Electric Quilt (EQ) program in 1992.
In this 1991 clip from Penny’s PBS show Great American Quilt Penny demonstrates the very first version of Electric Quilt (with Dean under the table controlling the keyboard).
They both eventually left their jobs to run the company full time. 26 years later, they continue to own and operate The Electric Quilt Company in Bowling Green, Ohio. These days, Penny is spending much more time away from the office enjoying various activities while Dean continues to be in the office several days a week.
In our conversation Penny and Dean talk about how they came to found Electric Quilt and they trace the company’s growth. We talk about how they survived shifts in operating systems and thrived in a competitive market. We mention:
- Jonathan Holstein’s The Pieced Quilt (affiliate link)
- Beth Gutchen’s The Perfect Patchwork Primer (affiliate link)
- Nancy Crow, Michael James, Terrie Mangat
EQ7 in action on Amy Gibson’s blog, Stitchery Dickory Dock.
And, of course, I ask Penny and Dean to recommend great stuff they’re enjoying right now.
- learning about particle physics
- the Chinese dictionary app, Pleco
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