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Adventures in Rowing by Katie Nathwani

The Quilter’s Trunk, Chicago, Illinois
June 2016

Sometime in 2013, I decided to open a quilt shop. This idea was hatched over coffee with my future store manager, Lisa, after being a student in a quilting class she taught. We both live in Chicago, and it was very important to us that our shop be located in the city limits.

Katie and Lisa from Quilters Trunk

Katie and Lisa

So, the hunt for real estate began. Fate smiled on us, because we found a great building with its very own parking lot right in our neighborhood. The architect and contractor were hired, plans were drawn up, and work started in early 2015, with a completion estimate of 3 months. You probably know where this is going, but stay with me.

As part of our business plan, we chose to carry Baby Lock sewing machines. We attended their annual retailer convention in 2014 where we became friendly with several shop owners. One in particular, Terry, told us we had to be part of Row by Row. She is the RxR coordinator for Texas and she introduced us to Janet. Soon we were on board. (Side note: I am originally from the Syracuse area, and I lived in Texas for a number of years, so there was a cosmic connection!)

When the 2015 theme was announced at Houston Quilt Market, Lisa and I immediately knew what our “water” was going to be. Every year on St. Patrick’s Day, the city of Chicago dyes the Chicago River bright green. The neighborhood where The Quilter’s Trunk is located is home to many residents of Irish heritage, and, in fact, the route of the South Side Irish Parade runs right in front of our store. We developed a row called “The River Runs Green” featuring the green river and several notable Chicago landmarks as a tribute to the city we call home.

Green River Row

Green River “Not Row by Row Row”

We were ready for RxR, but … our contractor was not. As summer approached, it became clear that the space would not be completed for some time. We had to decide whether to save our Row for 2016, without knowing the theme, or “unbrand” it from RxR. We chose the latter, and unofficially called it our “Not Row by Row Row”. Once the shop finally opened in September 2015 (4 months after we had hoped), the Row was a big hit among Chicago denizens and visitors.

Shortly thereafter, the 2016 theme was announced. Home Sweet Home! Our Row would have been PERFECT for that. Once the bruises from where we were kicking ourselves healed, we went back to the drawing board to come up with another design to show the love for our city.

Chicago is known for many things, and being home to several world famous candies is one of them. In fact, Chicago was known as “America’s Candy Capital” in the early 1900s. The Quilter’s Trunk picked four of our favorites—Tootsie Rolls, Lemonheads, M&Ms and Candy Corn—and made them into a row that spells HOME. This is our interpretation of “Sweet” Home Chicago. We teamed up with a local chocolatier, Sweet Freaks Chocolates, and are including a sample of one of their confections in our kits. It’s a pretty Sweet deal!

Quilters Trunk Home Sweet Home Row featuring a candy theme

Sweet Home Chicago