Sewing up a storm between classes

Posted by Lori Shull - Wednesday, November 06 2013
lshull@tntech.edu

 

thumb SewEMG_copyErica Marie Goldschmitt is a quilter, but there is not a single quilt or handmade item of her own in her apartment.

There is a massive table with a cutting board and a sewing machine in the living room and two eight-foot shelves in a back room full of neatly sorted fabric in every color and most of the patterns under the rainbow.

Goldschmitt, a merchandising and design major from Kingston, Tenn., is the face and talent behind Sew EMG, a shop on the online marketplace Etsy. There, she sells infinity scarves, quilts, table runners, wreaths and placemats.

“I always thought, a quilter – there’s no business for that. But it turns out there is,” she said. “I just had to find it.”

She has been open for less than a year, but received her 1,000th order in mid-October. She has hired two assistants to help her track orders and emails, and is looking to open a brick-and-mortar store in the next few years.

Goldschmitt’s grandmother taught her to sew when she was a child, but Goldschmitt never intended it to be more than a hobby. She planned to be a teacher. Two years into her degree, she realized teaching wasn’t right for her and began sewing again to help relieve the stress of being in the wrong major.

thumb Erica-headshot_copy“I decided if I can sew on the side, maybe I could get through my degree,” she said. “I was churning out so much that everyone I knew got a free quilt.”

“But fabric is expensive, so every time I ordered more my mom would ask me what I was doing.”

Now, she orders 20 bolts of fabric every few weeks from wholesalers, but no one questions it. One bolt contains 10 yards of fabric, so her tall shelves fill up quickly.

She says her profits from the part-time business amount to more than what some college graduates make full-time their first year after college.

“When we did my numbers, it didn’t makes sense for me to spend money on something I didn’t love when I was turning a profit,” she said. “I wasn’t going to come back until I heard about the human ecology major.”

In an average week, she says she gets between 15 and 30 orders. She has shipped her items across the United States and internationally to Canada, Mexico, South Korea and France.

She brings her work to her merchandising and design classes and frequently gives presentations and uses her professors’ knowledge to improve her marketing and her products. Though she has never taken a business course, she has spent time researching and reading books about marketing and business.

She’s been so busy already this fall with what she can only assume are holiday orders that she says she is already thinking about moving her holiday order deadline up from Dec. 10 to Dec. 1.

“The response from people and knowing there are people out there who do what I do is wonderful,” she said. “I’m a college student and I can run my own business. Now I know I can do whatever I want to do.”

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