Business of Craft Season 5 Episode 1 Mark Hyland

Business of Craft guest Mark Hyland


Welcome to Business of Craft, a show designed to help entrepreneurs with fabric or fiber businesses become more successful. Our guests share best practices and teach effective marketing skills, that help crafty business owners learn to grow and scale. Let’s start crafting a better business together!

Mark Hyland is the CEO of Handi Quilter and former CEO of Premier Needle Arts. Mark has been involved within the craft and hobby industry for more than 18 years, manufacturing, producing and marketing of leading world wide consumer enthusiast brands found within Crochet, Knitting, Sewing, Quilting, and Longarm Quilting categories. The brands include Berroco Yarns, Connecting Threads, Knit Picks, Golden Threads, Handi Quilter, Pro-Stitcher,, Superior Threads, and We Crochet.  Mark currently serves on several boards of directors within these segments both for profit organizations and non-profit organizations, including the National Quilt Museum.

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#1 I want to chat about some key takeaways from the 2021 Quilter’s survey funded by Premier Needle Arts that you were heavily involved in. Give us a little background of your role in the survey? 

#2 Let’s start with the first section about identifying the most common avatar in the quilting world, and by avatar, I mean the customer persona. Your survey confirmed a lot of what we all assume about who she is. 

#3 I might add that we’re always preaching to our clients about understanding who their ideal customer is, so even though this represents MOST quilters, your shop might be a little different in terms of who you cater to.

#4 Your study showed that quilters were online more than 30% in the past three years. What were some of the other pandemic impacts noted in the survey? 

#5 I love that one of the key learnings looking forward is the prospect of continued growth in the market. 2020 saw an increase in new quilters of 12%. Tell us more about that outlook? 

#6 We know that the age bracket of 50+ is expanding through 2040 and there is more emergence of new sewists between 50-60 right?  

#7 I also saw that “independent interest” continues to be the main driver for new quilters entering the market. Can you elaborate on what that means? 

#8 I was happy to see that online searches for “how to” continue to expand because we are always trying to teach our audience to adopt the paradigm of what I call “generosity marketing” where most of your online content is focused on teaching, sharing, giving etc. Is there anything more from the research that we can take from that point?

#9 I want to unpack a few key points around consumer preferences from the study. Can you elaborate a little bit?

#10 One in particular is that while our typical quilter DOES prefer to shop locally, she says that product selection and quality are more important to her. How should shop owners balance this need with the reality of tighter budgets and supply chain issues? 

#11 What does your crystal ball say about supply chain issues across the quilting and sewing industry, particularly fabric industry? I’m still hearing retailers are struggling with this. When will we start to see relief in this area? 

#12 The other point that jumped out at me was around customer service. How do you advise retailers to do a better job with better inward focus on customer service? (31:45)

 #13 Just this last summer we started to see a return to in-person shows and I was at Handi Quilter and Bernina corporate events and also h+h and people seemed so happy to be back together. What do you think the role of virtual shows will be in the future? 

#14 I’m also thinking a lot about online shopping and e-commerce and I think even though people are coming back together in person now, there will continue to be growth in that area. Would you agree?  

Key Takeaways:

  • Customers are not as price sensitive as they have been previously. Also free shipping isn’t super enticing – they’re going to buy anyway!
  • Do you have the product that they can buy now, do you have the project that they want rather than just the project?
  • Sewing is a gateway – someone who does some kind of sewing in their 20’s is MUCH more likely to become an avid quilter in their 50’s.
  • The biggest thing that we’ve learned/know is that consumer relationships start before the sales transaction. You’re trying to build a relationship with your customer, building trust and providing educational information before you ever get to the register.
  • Consumers find LOTS of information online well before they buy, so how can you share your information and expertise with your potential customers online.
  • How do you promote experiences?
  • Quilters value in person events (quilt shows) vs virtual events, although they will still participate in educational opportunities that are virtual.


Connect with Mark: HandiQuilter | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest | YouTube

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