It sounds less like the tale of a successful entrepreneur and more like a dream come true.
In a lovingly restored 1986 Airstream named Loretta, a talented woman spends her days designing and creating handmade quilts to share with the people she loves.
Along the way she decides to turn her passion into a business.
Laura Preston, the talent behind Vacilando Quilting, didn’t start off with the intention to turn her Airstream home into a mobile quilting studio.
In fact, she didn’t even start with any prior quilting experience.
When Laura and her boyfriend John set off to explore the U.S. in their Airstream on a multi-year journey, Laura brought along her painting supplies as a hobby — and didn’t pull them out once.
Eventually her search for a creative outlet led her to “buy some fabric and make a quilt”. With only some rudimentary sewing skills, and a little help from Google and YouTube, she “mostly just winged it” and taught herself to quilt.
The results speak for themselves.
These days Laura is doing much more then just winging it. About a year after making her first quilt (a wedding gift for a friend) she decided to open an online shop and see where it would go.
A collection was created, a website built (with the help of John, a talented web designer & photographer), and Vacilando Quilting Co. was born.
Making quilts in a 34 foot trailer that you also live in with one other person, two dogs, and a cat is no easy feat. Airstream trailers, with their iconic silver bullet shaped design, are popular and trendy business spaces.
And while these classic travel trailers make great spaces for selling and displaying goods, sewing quilts and running a business from an Airstream comes with its own sets of challenges, namely space restrictions.
Laura admits that she sometimes struggles with her tiny space.
I only really have one small work table (which also doubles as my desk and our dinner table), so I’m constantly having to move things around, put things away and figure out where to store materials. When I have to baste a quilt (where you lay out all the layers of a quilt to pin together), especially when it’s a larger quilt, I have to find some place outside and pray it isn’t windy.
When asked what advice she would give other small space dwellers who want to start a business she immediately replies, “Organization is necessary!”
Anyone who has spent time in an RV knows how quickly small clutter can turn into a giant mess. Laura solves this problem by having a place for everything, and being diligent about putting it all away at the end of the day.
She says, “having a space that’s organized and neat lets me focus on work.”
These days Laura and John have given up their traveling lifestyle for a stationary existence in the San Francisco Bay area where they continue to live out of their Airstream.
Despite their stationary status, it’s easy to see the influence of the places they have traveled in Laura’s quilt designs.
Vacilando Quilting is a work in progress. Her collection of quilts continues to grow while she adds some new products to the mix – products like fluffy hand quilted pillows and a sturdy canvas subway tote.
She’s also currently working on collaborations with two friends on a limited run of hand-printed indigo fabric and a collection of screen-printed totes and pouches.
And recently she started working with a local cocktail bar on a collection of canvas bartender aprons, which she hints might end up in her shop.
Laura admits that while she hasn’t yet found a grand vision for where Vacilando Quilting will ultimately end up, she’s currently enjoying experimenting with new materials, tools, and product ideas. And we are loving the results!
Laura proves that with passion, drive, and a willingness to try something new it’s possible to create success from anywhere. Even if that anywhere is a 200-square-foot Airstream.
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