Jenny Doan – Missouri Star Quilt Co. – Part 1

Missouri Star Quilt Company LogoWith hundreds of millions of YouTube views, Missouri Star Quilt Company is to quilting what Henry Ford was to automobile sales. Yes, it is THAT BIG . . .

So, how did tiny Hamilton, Missouri, a sleepy little town full of abandoned buildings, become the highly unlikely epicenter of a world-wide quilting revolution?

Jenny Doan - Quilting is a Sweet Journey.

Quilting is a Sweet Journey.

It was the 1990’s, and Jenny and Ron Doan were living in California, raising their seven children, Darrell, Natalie, Sarah, Hillary, Alan, Jacob, and Joshua. After realizing all her children learned differently, Jenny decided to try homeschooling. When she takes on a new job , she is 100% ALL IN. The school district provided them with lesson plans, but her kids whizzed through the material. So Jenny added “themes” to their schooling. “If one of the kids asked a question about the space shuttle — that was it. We’d go to the library and get books about space. We’d make field trips to the local observatory, and they wrote reports on astronauts. Maybe two weeks later, one of the kids would be interested in whales — so then it was all about ocean life.”

Ron & Jenny Doan.

Ron & Jenny.

In 1995, Jenny and Ron decided it was time to leave California. Ron was a mechanic/machinist, and figured he could get a job anywhere there was a factory. For a more affordable quality of life they decided to move to the Midwest. Their oldest child was in college, and their youngest was 8 when they packed up four vehicles and drove across the country to Hamilton, Missouri. When they arrived, they knocked on the door of a local realtor. He informed them that there was no motel in town, and it would take some time to find a rental house — so maybe they should just stay with his family until they could work things out. “They pulled out mattresses and took care of our family for a week until we found a place to rent.”

On that first day, Jenny cried, “WHAT HAVE WE DONE? It felt like we had stepped back in time. There was one gas station, one blinking stop light. When I went to the grocery store, a man carried my groceries out to the car. As I fumbled to unlock the door, he said… You must not be from here…” But, by the third day, the kids were walking down the street with their new friends, with fishing poles over their shoulders.” Jenny told Ron, “you could just bury me here.” They found a rental house on a farm outside of town that hadn’t been lived in for years. Jenny cooked, canned, and had a garden. The kids could ride their bikes for miles, go fishing, or just play or explore around the farm. It felt like a dream come true!

The first rental house.

The first rental house didn’t even have a key. They lived in that home for five years, but by then all the boys had jobs and Jenny didn’t want to mow the lawn three days a week. So, in 2000, they bought an old Victorian that needed new plumbing, new wiring, a furnace . . . the renovation took two years.

Ron Doan got a job as a machinist for a newspaper in Kansas City. By 2008, the newspaper had laid off so many people, Ron was back to working the night shift and his children believed their parents would soon be destitute. Their son Al called his sister Sarah and said, “we’ve got to get Mom a job. If we don’t do something — they’ll be living in our basements.”

At the same time, Jenny had made a quilt for one of her grandchildren (she now has 22), and told her son Al it would be “coming back from the long arm quilter in about a year.”

Al: “Are you kidding me? Is that a thing?”
Jenny: “Yes, because all the long-arm quilt ladies are so busy, they have long waiting lists.”
Al: “Could you learn how to do that?”
Jenny: “Well, I suppose I could . . . .”

Al called Sarah and said, “We’ve got to get Mom one of those quilting machines.” The $40,000 quilting machine was too big to fit into the house, so they also bought an abandoned auto dealership building for $20,000.

That was just the beginning . . . .

(To be continued.)

www.missouriquiltco.com

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