By: Tina Novotny
They say if you do what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life: welcome to Edith Kozma’s world of The Quilting Gnome.
Ms. Kozma inherited her passion for quilting from her late mother, and she has turned the craft into a thriving business. She celebrated the store’s ninth anniversary with a weekend-long party in June, just one of her many events and promotions.
Over the years, The Quilting Gnome has become a “destination” store, with clients so committed to its local quilting community that they’ll drive hours to participate in classes or gatherings like the “Shop Hop” or the “Mystery Bus Trip.” “Our business is the hub of Jackson’s Point,” she says. “Our customers eat in our restaurants, purchase gas, visit our beaches and love our town.”
While Ms. Kozma’s customers are mostly female, between the ages of 18 and 90, her base is growing as interest in traditional arts and crafts is fueled by the “maker movement” of younger DIY-ers. “Everyone likes to create something unique and individual. There’s such a wide artistic spectrum in quilting,” she says. Always popular are memory quilts, with people using a variety of materials such as t-shirts, baby blankets or hockey jerseys.
Customers can purchase fabric from Ms. Kozma’s huge inventory, which, she admits, is her obsession. “We think of our “stash” of fabric as an investment, which “can be transformed into beautiful pieces of art,” she says. “We search high and low to provide current notions, patterns and supplies. We also search online to find new trends and extra special lines.” That kind of customer service helped win Ms. Kozma a Georgina Small Business Award of Excellence, and every year during the international “Row by Row Experience” promotion, her custom block, the basic pattern in a quilt, featuring a gnome is always a hit with travelling quilters. This year’s block is called “Flipping Gnome,” depicting a gnome flipping meat on a grill.
The Quilting Gnome gets an extra boost from fellow craft enthusiasts in the area. “The Georgina Pins and Needles, our guild in town, has been a tremendous support to our business and the community at large,” says Ms. Kozma. “I’m so proud of them!” Indeed, business has been so good that she recently purchased a second long-arm quilting machine to catch up with demand. These computerized machines have revolutionized quilting, removing the tedium of countless hours of hand sewing, helping quilters finish their projects in record time — so she can inspire their next project. “It’s a great social network,” says Ms. Kozma. “That’s why our store hours are ‘Always.'”