A ‘Wise’ Move to Do Business in Western Iowa
28 Jul 2023
As office manager at a local construction company, Amy Healy sat at her desk and daydreamed about starting her own small quilting business. Thanks to the Western Iowa Advantage and support of the Region XII Development Corporation and its Revolving Loan Fund, that dream became a reality for Healy in 2015 when she opened Wise Monkey Quilting in Denison.
The Western Iowa Advantage region includes Audubon, Calhoun, Carroll, Crawford, Greene, Ida and Sac counties. It supports and promotes entrepreneurial and innovative people and companies like Healy and Wise Monkey. While Healy also had an investment from her boyfriend at the time, now her husband, who cashed in his early retirement to go all in on Wise Monkey Quilting with both planning to put all their efforts into the store, the additional funding reinforced her business model and made the store profitable and sustainable.
“Region XII helped me with the initial load to buy two longarm quilting machines when I first opened the store, then helped again in 2019 when we outgrew our first location and relocated to where we are now,” said Healy. “We went from a 1,500 square-foot building in uptown Denison to a 4,500 square-foot store. Without this assistance and encouragement, I probably wouldn't be where I am today.”
Today, Wise Monkey Quilting is more than just a quilt store but a pillar in the community. Most clientele tends to be females between 50-85, offering friendship and support as a hobby and their personal well-being. The company also has a large online presence.
“We are on social media, including Facebook Live, and offer a free app. We can ship packages to every state along with Canada, England, Australia and Africa,” adds Healy. “We also offer other products for sale besides quilting and sewing supplies, like food, personalized gifts, and Iowa wines from the Amana Colonies.”
“We specialize in laser cut applique kits. We have the largest collection of kits for sale in Iowa and maybe the Midwest from several different designers,” says Healy. “We purchase the patterns wholesale, then pick out and cut each piece of the fabric applique shapes with our laser machine for accuracy. What also makes us unique is we have a 10-person retreat center next to our store within the same building. Customers can stay for as long as they like where we provide personal sleeping pods, full kitchen, bathrooms with showers and plenty of room to get their sewing projects done with their friends.”
The future looks bright for Wise Monkey Quilting. While most customers are within a two-hour radius, the business is growing and expanding in web-based commerce. Prior to COVID-19, 90 percent of sales were in-store. Now, the business is approximately 60 percent online. The goal is to keep increasing online traffic and building up a larger social media following for years to come.
For more information on Western Iowa Advantage, visit https://www.westerniowaadvantage.com/