Each month the team here at Niche Media picks an outstanding niche magazine to highlight. This month’s pick: Primitive Quilts and Projects, a quarterly magazine dedicated to the primitive quilter, rug hooker, and stitcher. It is published by Homespun Media, LLC, a company owned by sisters Jeni Gaston, Gretchen Streeter, and Judy Williamson.
Each issue features at least 15 projects by some of the most admired designers in the primitive fiber arts world. Patterns and instructions for quilts, hooked rugs, wool appliqué, and other primitive crafts provide most of the content. The look and feel of the magazine truly stands out…high-quality photography and must-make designs printed on on high-quality paper to make their featured projects shine. They also highlight the charitable work that takes place in the quilting world, and their mother, Mary Falcsik writes a fun advice column in “Ask Mom.”
What are “primitive” quilts and projects? Gretchen Streeter explains: “Very simply, the word “primitive” just means un-trained. So, primitive anything is just a very simply done project. It doesn’t mean sloppy or unskilled…it just might not be geometric or proportionate. The words “folk art” are often lumped in, and that brings images of home, hand-made and the simple things. In our first issue, we asked all of the contributing designers to answer that question. It was interesting to read different takes on the idea!”
The magazine seems to be striking a chord with the enormous audience of quilters —over 21 million in the United States alone! Their readers make many of the projects in each issue…and then they tell all their friends about it. They keep readers up to date and involved with projects, advice, and just plain neat stuff on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and the Primitive Quilts and Projects blog.
What makes them special? “We have kept the individual voices of our contributing designers. Although we format the project patterns to be consistent, we try to leave the tone and personality of the designers in the wording of their instructions,” said Gretchen. “Also, wherever possible, we use the original hand-drawn templates and diagrams submitted. Where necessary, we do have a professional illustrator re-create the images, and she has done a beautiful job keeping the look and feel of the original author(s). Another unique feature is our Designer Notes article. In each issue we pose a question to our contributors. Our readers love this section; it’s a chance for them to get to know their favorite designers (and new ones!).” Filling their pages with unique voices is a great way to create a sense of community for their readers!
Primitive Quilts and Projects is growing fast. They printed 12,000 copies of their first issue, Summer 2011, which sold out in less than six months. Just two years later, they printed 38,000 copies of Summer 2013 – more than three times their first print run – and it looks as though it might sell out before the next issue! To help give them a boost, they hired the consulting services of Circulation Specialists, Inc., in late 2012. In addition to selling through independent quilt shops, to get the fiber arts word out they work with Kable Media Services for distribution to large chain stores such as Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, and other retailers around the world.
The sisters’ future plans for their magazine? Dedicating more time and effort to selling print and online ads, and expanding circulation. Possible spin-off publications are in the works within the next 2 years. Today the fabric store, tomorrow the world!
Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Plus, Carl Landau – Niche Media’s Grand Poobah – just launched a blog all about creating and marketing targeted events – blog.NicheEventNation.com Check it out!