Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Handi Quilter Retreat, Installment #1

So this was my big, fun weekend away to Utah, to attend a Handi Quilter My Story Retreat. Myself and 16 others were selected from over 170 others to become the faces & stories of HQ's 2011 advertising campaign. We all wrote and submitted our quilting story that brought us to becomming an owner of a Handi Quilter machine, and then HQ did the rest. We were a tremendously diverse group, as they'd aim for in an advertising campaign - each person selected because they help to fill a demographic...we come from all corners of the USA and one gal was from Canada. We are a full range of ages. There are "chosen ones" for each of the longarm machines that HQ sells. There are quilters who are seasoned and then those that may have not really ever used a longarm before. It was really quite surprisingly a diverse, yet tight group by the end of 2 and a half days.
We all met at the hotel in the afternoon before our first scheduled dinner. It was fun getting to know what each did. Brenda Groelz, director of marketing and Mark Hyland, CEO, joined us for dinner. Mark is quite a charismatic character, sharing his almost outrageous story of how he was brought to HQ nearly 5 years ago. Brenda has been there a few years, but is the former editor of Quiltmaker magazine. She has a tremendous eye for what she does, and is so well regarded.

The following morning (after getting nearly no sleep for a 2nd night), we all got up and went by shuttle to the Handi Quilter office. It's unassuming from the outside (above), but inside is a mecca of cloth, inspiration and greatness. Here is a picture of all of us as we entered the company for the first time. Can't you just feel the excitement?!! As we went in the doors, everyone in the company (most of their 50 employees) lined the staircase, and showered down cans of silly string (not directly on us mind you!). Balloons were everywhere for a truly festive feeling. A different HQ employee presented each of us with a bag, containing the first of many fantastic gifties. This bag had a sample quilting of each of our names (part of what they do to test-run each machine before it ships), goodies from Moda including a layer cake, jelly roll and charp square pack, and a few other odds & ends. It would have been great if we only got that much stuff. As you'll see as I post about this trip this week, we were showered with wonderful goodies. They truly see us as part of their family.
In their 2-story entryway was a large banner with all of our pictures. It brought tears to my eyes to see my daughter Sophie up there larger than life. I was really starting to miss her by then. Above the banner are many great quilter's sayings. These sayings are stenciled over every window and door in the facility. It's just so fantastic and warm. My favorite was in the studio, "Blessed are the children of quilters for they shall inherit the quilts". Just awesome.
First off, we got a tour of the space where the machines are assembled. Individual parts are manufactured wherever the highest quality per cost can be obtained. It's really cool to see a flank of Avante machines all sitting there with half their guts assembled. Gotta love the engineering side of it all. We learned about how they burn in and test each machine. Below is the CEO Mark showing us the type stitching that is done to fully test the machines.
There's so much to share about this fantastic journey I have been on, but I think I will break it into installments so that I don't have to write 10 tons today. I took a redeye home last night and am kind of whipped & whooped today. Stay tuned...



9 comments:

Yvette said...

I can't wait to hear and see more. HQ is the machine of choice for me if I ever get the space.

Who am I kidding? I would rather you do them for me. LOL!

Puddles of Grace said...

WOW!!!! What a weekend you had! Cant wait to read the next post! Get some rest and enjoy being home!
Charlene

Strlady said...

How exciting!! I went and spent a good 45 minutes watching the videos on the site. It was wonderful. I can't wait to hear more.

Trudi said...

Sounds fabulous already! Looking forward to the next installment!

Karen said...

What an amazing experience! I am looking forward to reading the next installment.

kwiltmakr said...

What a wonderful experience for you! Congrats. Now you will know all there is to know about your machine and using it.

Emma said...

Wow; it sounds like a great weekend! I'll look forward to the next installment.

Miss Sews-it-all said...

How fabulous and wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing.

And speaking of sharing sewing stories, have you had a chance to click over to www.WeAllSew.com to see what other quilters are sharing, too?

Handi Brenda said...

Margaret, you are very kind. It was our pleasure to host you and the rest of the 2010 HQ Story folks. We look forward to beautiful quilts!