Deanna Cooley didn’t know anything about quilting when she attended her first quilting class, but she found herself loving it. It was seeing the pure emotion and joy on her family’s faces in response to the first quilt she made them that had her hooked on quilting. “I realized that by putting a piece of my heart into my quilts, I could bring others immense happiness,” said Deanna.
Soon, friends who knew about Deanna’s talent with her new hobby began to bring their quilt tops for her to finish with her long-arm quilting machine, which is a machine that sews the top, batting and back into a metal frame all at the same time. It was the continued requests for quilting services that led Deanna and her husband, Bobby Joe, to the realization that there was demand for a service that she was providing, and no one else in her area was meeting that demand.
They weren’t sure where to start looking for assistance in starting a small business, but soon found everything she needed when the Small Business Association referred her to Renaissance Community Loan Fund, a SBA microlender based in Mississippi with a focus on creating successful small businesses in the state.
Deanna and Bobby Joe worked closely with their loan officer at Renaissance throughout the whole process, including answering some tough market research questions, finding the right location and working through improvements needed on the building that they chose. “My loan officer brought up questions on things that I never even knew I needed,” Deanna said. “He was interested in all of my plans and seemed excited to be a part of it.”
In addition to in-depth technical assistance to get the Cooley’s prepared to open their business, Renaissance provided affordable financing through a combination of their own lending product, Federal Home Loan Bank Small Business Boost funds and a SBA Microloan.
Deanna and Bobby Joe opened the doors to Ms. Sew N’ Sew’s Quilt Shop in Wiggins, Mississippi. While COVID may have affected some small businesses, it has actually boosted business with a surge in quilting and handmade items, especially in the younger demographic. Today, Ms. Sew N’ Sew’s Quilt Shop is a bustling, friendly place full of activity, bringing in customers from all over the area who return time after time. Colorful fabric and a vast array of quilting supplies are the shop’s decor, along with long arm quilting machines that are available to rent. Ms. Sew N’ Sew’s even provides repair services for quilting machines, and they also hold weekly classes on a variety of subjects, from all levels of quilt making to certification training to own your own long arm machine.
Deanna said that connecting with Renaissance so early in the business planning process was the best thing for them. “Every step of the way they helped me so that I was totally prepared and knowledgeable about what I needed to be a successful small business owner,” said Deanna. But at Renaissance, it’s more than just business. “Renaissance made me feel at home, they made me feel welcomed and part of the family.”
Visit Ms. Sew N Sew’s website for updates: mssewnsewsquiltshop.com
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