The Missouri Star Quilt Company of Hamilton, Missouri was founded in 2008 by a daughter and son as a side project for their mother. Today it offers the largest selection of pre-cut fabrics in the world, has amassed over a quarter of a million subscribers on Youtube, and is the largest employer in Caldwell County.
“It started as a small side business to generate some side income for my mom,” company co-founder Alan Doan said. “We bought a sewing machine and a building to put it in.”
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Doan said it was a struggle just to survive in the beginning. Even though they were getting a lot of orders they weren’t turning a profit.
“The next 2 years it ran without anybody taking a paycheck,” he said.
Despite the lack of pay, they kept moving forward. “A lot of it is just your vision,” Doan said. “We had a vision of where we could go.”
Now their vision is coming true. The company is profitable and growing at an incredible rate.
“Today we’re 165 employees,” Doan said. “We’re growing by 160% year over year. Really we think we can keep going.”
A great deal of Missouri Star Quilt company’s success has come from Alan’s mother Jenny making it big on Youtube. Her video tutorials have garnered nearly 45 million views. Her channel has 227,000 subscribers.
“We wanted to give people a reason to stay in a rural town in Missouri.”
The popularity has driven the company’s success. And the company’s success has driven a revitalization in Missouri Star Quilt’s hometown.
The rural town of Hamilton, Missouri was in bad shape when the Doan family founded their operation. “When the company was founded we had one or two antique stores, city hall, a Subway, and a couple gas stations,” he said. “We wanted to give people a reason to stay in a rural town in Missouri.”
“I love it here,” Doan said. “I want to raise my kids here.”
“We needed to make the town better.”
However, the Doan family knew it would take a long time and a lot of red tape to get government assistance in revitalizing the town. So they decided to take matters into their own hands. They decided to remake the town themselves.
“Nobody else is going to do it for you,” Doan said. “So we said ‘we’ll just focus on earning money and going to work ourselves’.”
Now the Missouri Star Quilt Company owns most of the retail buildings in Hamilton. They’ve revitalized the entire town and hired a large number of locals to staff the company. The town has even become something of a tourist attraction as Youtube fans from across the world descend on it to see the company’s home town.
“We wanted a great place for when people came to visit from all over the world,” Doan said. “We were able to create this really cool experience and be really proud of our town.”
Stephen Gutowski is a contributor for Opportunity Lives. You can follow him on Twitter @StephenGutowski.