Today we’d like to introduce you to Karla Overland.
Karla, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I have been sewing since I was 10 years old. The youngest of three 4-H girls, I sewed many of my own clothes. When I went off to college for a Graphic Design degree, I taught myself to quilt. The quilting world opened my eyes to using fabric as a medium for art. After a career in Advertising and Design, I crossed paths with the founder of Cherrywood Fabrics and learned the business through her mentorship. Now that I am the sole owner, I am able to combine all my previous experiences to grow the company into what you see today. I am starting my 23rd year with Cherrywood.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Coming into the quilting world at the tender age of 30 was not easy. Even though I have been part-owner of the company since the start, and had 20 years of sewing experience, I felt I had to prove myself to the quilting world. Once I started telling my story, the pressure eased up because people could see I knew what I was talking about. This business has transitioned quite a bit, from losing the founder to cancer, partners with opposing personalities, to a major move and expansion. My higher education was in art, and I never dreamed I would be an entrepreneur, so my learning curve was steep for all the behind-the-scenes part of running a business. I reached out to the Small Business Development Center to help me transition to sole ownership and give me the confidence to make major changes.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I specialize in hand-dyed cotton fabric that looks like suede. We dye 200 solid colors and our main customers are quilters. The product has a unique texture that it is not-quite-solid, which makes it appear richer and more luxurious when used in quilting. This is a higher-end product because of all the labor that goes into it. The colors and texture of Cherrywood can never be reproduced in a factory, and our customers are happy to pay the price for such a quality product. We are known worldwide for our product, and have gotten recognition via award-winning quilters who use our product.
A few years ago, I started an annual contest called The Cherrywood Challenge. I choose a color and a theme and ask quilt artists to design a small quilt using the limited color palette provided. The contest has become so popular and competitive that I have asked professionals to jury the process. A limited number of entries are selected to travel to national quilt shows as a Special Exhibit. We are entering our eighth year of this highly anticipated exhibit, and are proud of the way it has entwined quilting into pop culture.
Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
My passion for quilting and designing cannot be separated from my business because it is a part of who I am. I have a hard time NOT working because it energizes me. I have gained confidence through the years and learned to be fearless. The worst they can say is “no” but you won’t find out until you ask. I have surrounded myself with a team that shares my work ethic and passion and I value them highly.
- $24.00 per yard
- Website: www.cherrywoodfabrics.com
- Instagram: @cherrywoodfabrics
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CherrywoodHandDyedFabrics
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZIEbGe2WP3955AWPS8bVJg