The Story of Hopscotch
In 2004, when Elissa was 15 years old, she told Heather (her mom) that she would like to own a quilt shop. She had just finished the first book of the Elm Creek Quilt Series and was inspired by the quilt retreat center and the group of women who worked together. Heather suggested that Elissa could start already with a small, home-based business. She could stock a small selection of fabric and patterns for local quilters.
Elissa asked her Dad for a loan of $2,000 to get started. Dad thought she would need more than $2,000 but was willing to lend her the money. Elissa actually had excellent business sense for a young entrepreneur. If the business made money, Elissa made money. If the business lost money, Mom and Dad lost money!
Elissa went ahead and ordered her patterns, but when the time came for her to order fabric she found she could not purchase fabric, as the fabric reps would not sell to a home-based business. In order to sell fabric, she would need to find retail space.
The hunt for space began and at first it was very discouraging as prices were high. Elissa and Heather discovered space in a vacant building owned by the Coaldale Hospital Association and a rental price was agreed on.
A staff member of the Hospital Association, who was a member of the Coaldale Youth Foundation board, informed Elissa of the Youth Foundation’s initiative to encourage young entrepreneurs. The foundation offered a small grant, no interest loan and a consultation with an accountant to set up a business plan. These were a wonderful boost in her launch into the business world.
The cost of rent and the general costs of running a business meant that a larger business loan was needed. Since Elissa was a minor, Heather became her business partner to satisfy the bank, as well as the town of Coaldale in obtaining a business license.
Many of Heather’s quilting friends helped with the set up of the shop, offering furniture, time and encouragement. Elissa and Heather ordered their first 50 bolts of fabric, hung up some patterns and on Nov 27, 2004 Hopscotch Quilt Shop opened its doors. Both Elissa and Heather laugh when they see the pictures of their early days.
The shop was basically divided into two sections, the brights which were ordered, sampled and organized by Elissa, and the primitive darks which Heather took care of. The shop was a reflection of the two owners and focused on these two styles.
Although Elissa was taking her Grade 10 through Cyber School, thus giving her flexible hours, she was not able to run a full time business and go to school. As a teacher, Heather did not have time to work many of the shop hours, so in the beginning the shop was only open two afternoons a week and all day Saturday. Each year of business operation, another afternoon was added to the shop's hours. In the Spring of 2008, the shop was finally open full days and full time hours.
As the business grew, Heather became a more active partner in the shop. Elissa worked most of the shop hours and Heather did ordering, kitting and writing all of the shop’s patterns. It became an equal partnership.
In the Spring of 2007, one of Hopscotch's patterns came out in Quilts and More. In the summer of 2008 Hopscotch's first book, “Christmas at Hopscotch” was published with Martingale & Co. The following spring a second pattern came out in Fons and Porter's Quilts and More. In April 2010, the second book Double Take: Quilts With That Hopscotch Twist was published, again with Martingale and Co. Since those first two books, Hopscotch has gone on to publish It's In the Bag at Hopscotch Quilt Shop(2011) and A Taste of Hopscotch: Placemats and Runners for Everyday Life (2011). Heather and Elissa have also coninued to build on their pattern line.
The shop certainly took on a life of its own in the 6 1/2 years that it was open and they were very exciting years. In the Spring of 2011 some decisions had to be made as the design business was growing quickly and Elissa decided that she would like to return to school to take art and design courses. With very mixed feelings, the store was sold on June 1, 2011.
Heather and Elissa continue to design, as well as travel and teach. They love meeting other quilters and it is very exciting when quilters show them (through email or in person) the projects they have made from Hopscotch patterns. If you would like to book Elissa and Heather for teaching and/or trunk shows, please refer to the contact information page.