Who would think you could reinvent your whole life at age 50? It’s a question Jenny Doan still ponders, even though she did just that.
Jenny is a co-founder of the Missouri Star Quilt Company, which offers over 30,000 bolts of fabric along with hundreds of its own quilting patterns, quilt kits, a quilting magazine (called BLOCK), and a huge selection of precut quilting fabrics. She’s also the star of the company’s free YouTube tutorials about quilting that have been viewed millions of times (more on this intriguing accomplishment in just a bit).
The Doans started their quilting business over a decade ago, when Jenny, her husband Ron, and their seven children decided to relocate from California to “a spot somewhere in the Midwest” where the cost of living was lower. That spot turned out to be Hamilton, a Missouri town of about 1,500 people.
In California, Jenny had designed theatre costumes but the theatre scene wasn’t big in Missouri. It was all about quilting. So Jenny took a quilting class and was immediately hooked.
One day, she took a couple of quilts to be machine quilted at a local quilt shop–and was told she’d have to wait a year for them to be finished. As she explains on her website, two of her children, Alan and Sarah, sensed a business idea and encouraged her to start her own machine quilting business.
By then, it was 2008, when the stock market crash had wiped out most of Ron’s retirement savings. Needing a new retirement plan, Jenny decided to heed her children’s advice. In November 2008, the Doans bought a small brick building in Hamilton to set up shop–and the Missouri Star Quilt Company was born.
In 2009, the company started its YouTube channel where Jenny gives step-by-step instructions for quilting projects. This marketing technique proved to be a game changer. Thirteen years later, the 65-year-old Jenny has become a quilting “sewlelbrity.”
Not all entrepreneurs want to (or should) partner with relatives, of course. Missouri Star Quilt Company, however, is a nice example of what can happen when family members are able to blend their talents and skills together. In this case, Jenny engages YouTube viewers through her friendly, authentic, and down-to-earth demeanor. Her son provides the technical know-how needed to make the weekly video tutorials happen.
You can see Jenny in action by watching the video below.