Sometimes when you know a craft well you have a brilliant idea for a product that could make it even better. But how do you turn your idea into reality? Quilter Carolina Moore figured it out by working with a partner who handled the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution on her behalf.
Moore is currently studying for her MBA at the Rady School of Management at the University of California San Diego where she was enrolled in a course about new product ideation. During the brainstorming process she came upon a tool used in the construction industry that magnified a drill which sparked a new idea for her.
“I thought, why hasn’t anyone magnified a quilting ruler? That seems like a no-brainer, right?”
At first she thought she could create a magnified quilting ruler, “but then I realized it’d be even easier to just take the rulers that we already have, because there are so many specialty rulers out there, and add a magnifying lens with some adhesive.”
Nothing quite like it
Looking around she noted that there was nothing on the market quite like it. “I’ll be 40 next month and I’ve been quilting since I was 12. I worked at a quilt shop for many years and while it’s possible for there to be notions out there that I don’t know about, there wasn’t anything like this that I saw,” she says. The closest product she could find was a magnifying lens that’s attached to a needle threader or a magnifying bar that goes across a cross stitch pattern. After observing quilters putting on a second pair of reading glasses when looking at their quilting rulers, she was affirmed that her idea was a good one.
Tackling the manufacturing and distribution on her own felt overwhelming, though. She knew she’d need a partner who could help with those parts. “I definitely don’t know manufacturing processes,” she says. “If you’re going to get something made in China, how do you get it imported? I don’t know anything about tariffs and international regulations. Those are skills I’m just not planning on building.”
She already had a relationship with an employee at Checker, a major distributor to independent quilt shops, so she reached out to see if they might be interested in working with her. Her first step was to have Checker sign an NDA. “That’s something I recommend to anyone who has an idea. That just puts you on safer legal footing. It gives you a fence of understanding.” Next, she presented her idea and, to her delight, the staff at Checker expressed enthusiasm right away.
They created a prototype and presented it to Moore fall Quilt Market, the industry trade show. After approval, it went into production.
The product is called Spot on Dot and it’s fairly simple: a magnifying lens in two sizes with reusable adhesive that allows you to stick it to your quilting ruler so you can better see the markings. When the adhesive loses its stick, just rinse it in water and it will get sticky again. The product is sold through Checker to independent quilt stores and is licensed as part of their Gypsy Quilter brand.
Moore is really happy with the partnership arrangement. “You give away quite a bit of dollars. I make less dollars per unit then I would if it did it all by myself. However, I‘m definitely moving more units than I ever would be able to by myself. And I gained a partner who has expertise in the areas that I don’t want expertise in. I don’t want to learn how to package and ship to shops, for example.”
Moore’s name is on the product (each unit says “designed by Carolina Moore”) so she feels she hasn’t lost brand equity by working with Checker and she retains ownership of the intellectual property.
Now she’s thinking about what’s next. “Coming up with the next idea and the next new thing is what excites me,” she says. Moore plans to continue to invent new notions in addition to blogging on her site, AlwaysExpectMore.com, working with brands, creating tutorial videos for her YouTube channel 30 Minute Crafts, and designing quilt patterns. She admits, though, to feeling a bit of pressure since the launch of Spot on Dot. “I came up with something super simple and elegant right out of the gate and I don’t know that I could come up with something quite that elegant again.”
Spot on Dot will be available on the shelves of your independent quilt shop on February 20, 2020. (Watch a demo video here.)
Do you have an idea for a new sewing or quilting widget? The Gypsy Quilter is searching for brilliant ideas to bring to life. Contact Nichole Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1.800.537.1060 ext. 663