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Working with a Virtual Assistant: Meet our Interview Guests

This month I interviewed Chris Batten of Looped Quilting Studio and Erin Case of Birch Tree Creative to talk about the process and benefits of working with a Virtual Assistant as a small business owner. Beginning as quilty friends in real life, Chris and Erin also started to work together professionally when Chris hired Erin as a virtual assistant to help with some of the administrative side of her business so that she could focus more on what she loves - quilting!

We talked about the types of virtual assistants, the ins and outs of hiring and working with one, the costs involved, and the benefits Chris has seen in her business. I loved learning about the virtual assistant world and discussing all the ways a virtual assistant can help and support a business owner, and while the full discussion replay is available for League members, I'm excited to share a few takeaways here on the blog and help you get to know our guests a little better.

One of the reasons I loved this call with Chris and Erin is that it really highlights that even when we're running a small business on our own, we don't have to do everything ourselves. It's okay to evaluate and identify which tasks we enjoy and which we don't, and it doesn't have to break the bank to get some help. While League Member Chris Batten loves running her own longarm quilting business, she doesn't love all of the administrative tasks associated with it. Enter Erin Case. Erin's passion is partnering with owners of creative businesses to handle some of those tasks for them, providing services such as blog writing, social media maintenance and website building services. By working together, Chris has been able to streamline her processes and offload tasks that she wasn't enjoying, didn't have expertise in, or had been left on the back burner. She's now able to spend more time quilting and working with her customers while having peace of mind knowing Erin's managing the offloaded items.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to Chris and Erin!

 

Chris Batten, Looped Quilting Studio

Located: Portland, OR
In business: 5 years
Machine and software: Innova
In Longarm League: 2 years

Where to find Chris:
Website: https://www.loopedquilting.com/
Instagram: @loopedquilting

Best way for someone to contact you for quilting?
Fill out my intake form on my website.

Tell us a little about your business and the services you provide at Looped Quilting Studio.
I provide digital edge to edge quilting. I enjoy getting to know my customers so that I understand their unique preferences. My goal is to return their quilts completed in a way that reflects their style not mine. I cater to both professional quilt pattern designers and newer quilters alike and strive to treat each quilt as the work of art that it is.

How did you get started longarm quilting?
I started quilting about 15 years ago. I was self taught and my first quilt was a hot mess! This led me to take a quilting class at a local sewing store that also carried longarm machines. I was intrigued by them and my instructor was a professional longarm quilter. After wrestling a few quilts under my domestic machine, I knew it was time to invest in a longarm. I’ve been hooked ever since.

 

 

Erin Case, Birch Tree Creative

Located: Vancouver, WA
In business: 1 year

Where to find Erin:
Website: https://www.birchtreecreative.com/
Instagram: @birchtreecreative

Best way for someone to contact you for virtual assistant services?
The contact me form on my website is the best way to contact me if you're interested in hiring me. General questions can be sent to the email address.

Tell us a little about your business and the services you provide at Birch Tree Creative.
I own a creative virtual assistant business, that focuses on helping small business owners, in particular those who are in the sewing and quilting industry.  

How did you get started with your business?
After working with a local quilt pattern designer while I was on the board of my local guild, she reached out to me to ask if I wanted to have a part-time job as her virtual assistant. I jumped on the opportunity, as my boys were back at school full-time, and I had more time. After working with her for a year, she had other friends in the industry seeking out help, and she asked if I'd be willing to take on other customers. I jumped at the opportunity, as I had been thinking of starting my own business. I'm working with some awesome clients and have been branching out to website design.   

 

 

 

Longarm League Q&A

We thought it would be fun to ask Chris and Erin to share a little more with you about themselves.

Quilting

Q: What's your favorite notion for sewing / quilting?

  • Erin: "It's got to be my iron/clapper combo, I love pressing my quilt blocks into submission!"

Q: What's your favorite notion for longarm quilting?

  • Chris: "Sew Tite Magnums, they make loading so fast!"

Q: What's your favorite part of making a quilt?

  • Chris: "The quilting, of course!"
  • Erin: "The piecing!"

Q: What pantographs / quilting designs have you been loving lately?

  • Chris: "My all time favorite is Raindrops on Water but lately I’ve been loving Mister Marbles and Ginger Snap."

Q: Any recent fabric lines or patterns you've been loving?

  • Erin: "Holiday sewing has been on my mind lately. I've been working on finding some quilt patterns for my boys' yearly Birthmas quilts. (They are twins--born on Christmas day!) and I'm a bit behind on their quilts this year. So I've been obsessing about Minecraft and Star Wars quilts. I'm hoping to design their quilts next year.

Q: Favorite snack while sewing?

  • Chris: "Peanut M&Ms"

 

Business

Q: Do you have any advice for someone just starting out with their business?

  • Chris: "Do it!!!! It can be scary starting out, but having a network, like the Longarm League can really help."
  • Erin: "So much advice! 😆 Define your ideal client, as that will determine how you'll communicate with them; establish an online presence, and don't be afraid to outsource the work you don't find enjoyable. There's someone out there that enjoys it!"

Q: Could you tell us about a business "win" you've had?

  • Chris: "I recently had a quilt hanging at Pacific International Quilt Festival. It is exhilarating seeing my work on display!"

 

Just for fun

Q: What other hobbies do you enjoy aside from quilting?

  • Chris: "Paddle boarding, hiking and camping"
  • Erin: "Knitting, cross stitch"

Q: Any podcasts or YouTube channels you've been loving lately?

  • Erin: "I've been watching The Vow on HBO.  I've always been fascinated at how group dynamics can change a person's behavior.  For podcasts, I've been focused on more business centered ones like Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield, The Recipe for SEO Success, Craft to Career and the Craft Industry Alliance podcast."

 

If you'd like to watch the replay of this discussion or check out our other lessons, we'd love to have you join us in the League! You can learn more about membership here. And if you're interested in starting your own longarm quilting business, subscribe to our newsletter for updates so you don't miss being notified when our Spring 2023 Rookie Season course registration opens (our fall session is currently underway). You can see all the details, register for our newsletter, and read about how the course has helped previous students here.

Thanks so much for talking with me this month Chris and Erin!

 

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