Spikberg Quilting: Turning a Passion into a Microbusiness

A Michigan Women Forward Small Business Success Story

When Mark Spikberg of Tecumseh left his job in the automotive industry, he was looking to keep busy, not start a business. But opportunity knocked and Michigan Women Forward helped him open the door.

It all started with a quilting class he took at his church. He was the only man among the church ladies learning about binding, batting and blocks – and he was hooked. “I just really loved the process – cutting all of the shapes. You have to be very exact,” Mark says.

Mark would get a quilt done and immediately want to make another. Luckily, some folks at his local Big Boy gave him some orders. He also made quilts for hospices and veterans. But then someone suggested he try to sell his custom quilts beyond Tecumseh. In order to do that, he needed a website, an Etsy shop, an inventory of fabric and a budget for some social media advertising. “We’re on a very fixed income, so there was no money to do that,” Mark says.

And that’s where Michigan Women Forward stepped in. With the funds he received from his Michigan Women Forward small business loan, he was able to convert his quilting hobby to a solid side hustle. In his first year, he made more than 200 custom quilts – from the classic Hexagon to novelty designs like Detroit Lions and Paw Patrol.

“I got orders from as far away as South Carolina, and it’s just been great,” Mark says. “It’s keeping me busy and it’s making us some extra money. I love it!”

Here are some of the top take-aways from Mark’s microbusiness experience: 

1. Start with passion.

    Mark’s entrepreneurial story started with his love of quilting. Soon he discovered that others valued his custom quilt creations, and that there was a market for what he loved creating. That created an opportunity – one where he got to do more of what he loved and make some money along the way. 

    2. Start small.

    Mark’s original business plan had a goal of creating one to two quilts per month. Since he has a home-based business and little overhead, this small goal was a perfect way for him to transition into a microbusiness and assess his capacity and the market for custom quilts. 

    3. Expand your territory.

    Mark realized that there wasn’t enough custom quilt business in his home town of Tecumseh, which is located in Lenawee County, about 25 miles south of Ann Arbor. But he also knew that custom quilts were a perfect product for online sales and commissions. By establishing a shop on Etsy, he was able to expand his market beyond his hometown and even his home state. 

    4. Invest wisely.

    What you don’t spend your money on is just as important as what you do. Mark had a quilting machine that accommodated up to a queen-size quilt. He thought about upgrading to a machine that could create a king-size quilt, but decided against it. 

    “Most people want a queen size quilt, and I am able to use a machine from another quilter if I have a king size quilt order,” he said. “So, it just wasn’t necessary.” 

    What was necessary was establishing a digital presence. So, he used his Michigan Women Forward microloan funds to build a website and stock up on fabric. His goal was to leverage his capital investment into something that would result in new orders. 

    “And it worked,” Mark says. “I have met my goal and surpassed it.” 

    Are you a small business in need of capital to grow your business dream? We are here to help!

    Find out more about the small business loans available through Michigan Women Forward.