Growing up my Grandmother and Great Aunt used to make my brother and I scarves, hats, mittens, and blankets. So when I came across this next small business that specializes in quilting, it reminded me so much of these items that I now have for my family. Abby Kirkman’s quilts are beautiful, colorful, and can be personalized to your liking. Not to mention, her talent extends beyond just quilts, it also includes pillows, pouches, masks, and sweatshirts! All of her items make for great gifts and pieces for your home. So, let’s learn more about Abby and her small business Abby Kirkman Quilts!
Tell us about your business and the story behind its creation!
I was inspired to begin quilting by my grandmother who was a lifelong quilter.
I always admired her work and around 2014 I found myself in need of a hobby. I purchased a relatively inexpensive sewing machine, bought some fabric and the rest is history! Soon I began to discover my own style. I would take my grandmother’s more traditional patterns and update them with a more modern and colorful style. What started out as a hobby quickly grew and in 2016 I participated in my first market. Since then AKQ has expanded to markets throughout New York and neighboring states and you can also find AKQ items at many shops and small businesses around the region!
What products and services do you offer? What makes them unique?
AKQ offers a variety of handmade high quality quilted items that people love to have in their home and use everyday! Aside from quality, my goal is also sustainability – quilts and quilted goods take time to make and I want you to be able to love and use them for a long time! AKQ offers quilts, as well as pillows (with motifs such as New York State, moose, or custom), pieced and quilted pillows, pouches, and totes.
I have also recently ventured into wearables and I am particularly proud to now be offering a line of quilted sweatshirts (both pullover and hoodie). I also offer a variety of custom quilts including t-shirt/memory quilts (where I specialize in a unique improv design), circular baby playmats, and of course traditional quilts in various sizes!
What do you love most about running your own business and being a business owner?
I appreciate that I can make items that I love and share them with the wider community! I take pride in the fact that all my items are handmade in my home studio in Delmar. Additionally, I work full time as the Assistant Director of a National Technical Assistance Center that helps people who are homeless or at risk, who cannot work due to severe disabilities apply for benefits – it is often very technical and heavy work, but at the end of the day I love that I can tap into my creative side and make something beautiful!
What has been one of the most memorable experiences or opportunities that you’ve experienced since opening your business?
One of the absolute best parts of starting AKQ has been becoming part of the maker community! You get to meet so many amazing and talented people through vending at markets or networking with small businesses. I also love having the ability to contribute beautiful and functional items to community events and efforts (ex: during the height of the pandemic I donated hundreds of facemasks, and I also often donate custom items to baskets or events that will be raffled off for a cause.)
What advice would you give to aspiring business owners?
Find your own style, what you love to make, and then figure out how to scale it! Offer a variety of items at differing price points. I sell expensive handmade quilts but I also offer pouches and totes at a lower price point, and pillows and wearables that are more mid-range. Don’t be afraid to take chances and mix up your products, some items will work, some won’t and that’s okay! And always have fun and network with fellow makers!