Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management


Apparel, Merchandising, and Design

First Advisor

Sara B. Marcketti


A 2014 Quilting in America™ study states that there were 16 million active quilters in the United States which represents 4.9% of the US population, spending approximately $3.76 billion a year on their fiber arts passion. From 2010 to 2014, there was a 5% increase in the value of the amount spent by quilters. The typical quilter in the early twenty-first century is a middle aged, upper class woman seeking leisure activities (Quilters in America, 2014; Stalp, 2007). The Quilters in America™ 2014 survey reported that the typical quilter has been quilting for an average of 20.3 years and spends approximately $3,296 per year on quilting. Quilters spend money on fabric, thread, books, classes, as well as guilds (Stalp, 2007). The average quilter owns approximately $13,000 worth of tools and supplies and has a fabric stash valued at approximately $6,000 (SAQA, 2014). Based on research by Stalp (2007) women who quilt find personal, emotional and artistic fulfillment from the activity.

A semi-structured interview process (Creswell, 2013) was used in this study to explore the topic of quilt shop ownership. Guided questions were used while allowing the owners the freedom to express themselves in their own words. This study used a purposive strategy in choosing the participants to be interviewed (Esterberg, 2002). They were chosen because they were quilt shop owners in rural communities in the state of Iowa. This study utilized a sample of quilt shop owners based on information from the All Iowa Quilt Shop Hop (Carpenter, 2016). A search was done on the US Census Bureau website regarding the populations of each city/town listed in the All Iowa Quilt Shop Hop periodical. The All Iowa Shop Hop is an annual event held June 1 to June 30 (Carpenter, 2016).

By offering rich, thick descriptions of 15 quilt shop owners in rural communities in Iowa, this study presents an in-depth investigation into why these entrepreneurs were pulled or pushed into opening their shops. The major pull areas that emerged from analysis of the interviews were opportunity, independence, challenge/achievement, and money. The major push reasons that emerged were related to family matters and job related issues and concerns. Most of the quilt shop owners were not just pulled or pushed into entrepreneurship, but rather concurrently pulled by one or more of the factors, and pushed by one or more of the factors.

Quilt shop owners also described their businesses as happy places to visit. During the interviews, they discussed how much happier they were in their current business compared to when they worked for someone else. The three main areas related to happiness that were expressed including, customers, relationships and passion for the shops and the fabrics.

General systems theory provides insight into how the quilt shop owner’s happiness is generated. General systems theory is based on relationships of the parts to the whole. There are three elements involved in systems theory: input, throughput, and output (Lovingood & Firebaugh, 1978). The input in this study were the pull factors including opportunity, independence, challenge and achievement, and money, and the push factors included family and job related issues. The throughput would be the quilt shop itself, and the output are the happiness factors including customers, relationships and passion. The feedback loop goes from the happiness of the quilt shop owners back to the pull and push factors of entrepreneurship.


Copyright Owner

Jody Ann Aultman



File Format


File Size

114 pages