Harrisburg, PA (PRWEB) October 14, 2010
Old World meets New World. For more than two decades, Barbara (last name withheld) has run a successful authentic Amish quilt making business from her Lancaster County Amish farm in central Pennsylvania. She started in the mid 1980s. Local Amish buggy rides for tourists used the driveway to her and her husband, Jesse’s farm house to turn around.
“We would get three groups a day that would turn around in our driveway,” Barbara explains. “We decided we might as well sell them something.”
Barbara started with only three of her handmade quilts. For the next five years she began to steadily grow her business, selling quilts to the local Amish buggy tour groups. Barbara’s reputation for quality craftsmanship grew and she soon realized she needed more Amish quilt makers. So she asked her family members; and then, her neighbors. Today her network of quilters exceeds fifty Amish women.
Barbara designs the quilt tops and uses her network of Amish quilters to complete the piecing, marking and quilting. She is able to produce several hundred quilts a year. Her business took an interesting turn in April, 2009. That’s when Michael Bell, 27, a local entrepreneur, walked into her supply store.
“I have a Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, and I love working in Lancaster County, in part, because of the large Amish community,” says Bell who recently graduated with an International MBA from Temple University. During his studies abroad, Bell noted the fine craftsmanship of indigenous women and the economic advancement that bringing their handiwork to market afforded them.
“I’m committed to socially conscience capitalism,” Bell says, who has volunteered and studied in such places as South Africa, Thailand and Bangladesh. “The work of Nobel Laureate Mohammad Yunus has particularly influenced my views on how business ought to be done.”
Bell realized the Amish women of Lancaster County had the same level of fine craftsmanship in their quilt making. But their religious tradition limits the ways in which they might bring that handiwork to a broader market. Bell though can act as an intermediary and use his expertise in e-commerce and social networking to create another outlet for the quilters Barbara has brought together, while honoring the tenets of their way of life.
Today customers all over the world can purchase an Amish-made quilt by Barbara’s quilters through Bell’s website: http://AmishQuiltShop.net or custom-order one handmade to their specifications. Fans can also learn more about Amish quilt making and the lives of Amish women via Facebook.com/AmishQuiltShop or by following Bell’s tweets at Twitter.com/AmishQuiltShop.
Bell and Barbara’s partnership is off to a solid start. They have sold quilts across the US as well as, to the UK, Australia and Canada. They were recently featured in the October 2010 issue of National Geographic Traveler. “Barbara has told me that the amount of orders we are getting has already allowed her to hire additional Amish quilters who were looking for work. It’s great to be able to practice socially conscience business right in my backyard,” says Bell.
Barbara and Jesse for their part are also enjoying the new venture. Jesse saw Google for the first time when Bell was explaining his business idea and later enjoyed his first trip to Panera Bread, where Bell used the hot spot to demonstrate their joint website. Bell now keeps Barbara and Jesse updated on how many fans are following them on Facebook and Twitter and where AmishQuiltShop.net is showing up in Google’s search results.
To ensure customers know they are getting an authentic Amish quilt, each quilt at AmishQuiltShop.net has up to nine pictures taken and each order is shipped with a signed Certificate of Authenticity by Barbara.