With new facility, quilt shop grows into national destination – and has bigger plans

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Little did she know when she moved to East Texas to raise emus she would be leading a multi-million dollar quilting business with thousands of followers some 20 plus years later. 

That is exactly what Deb Luttrell has done, and her business, Stitchin’ Heaven, has grown from a small storefront in Quitman to a large retail business located in the Quitman Business Park. Deb and her son Clay Luttrell, who is her partner in the business, are now the proud owners of one of North America’s top quilting establishments, which has become a destination location for thousands.  

“In 1996, I moved to Quitman with the intent to raise emus. Instead, I opened a little sewing center in Quitman and named it Stitchin’ Heaven,” Deb said. “I had a vision, a premier quilt shop appealing to those who love to quilt and sew while offering the very best fabrics and supplies.”

She set up business in Quitman’s Lakeside Shopping Center next to Jan and Jay Gorman’s original All of Us location. There were many in the area who did not think the business would survive.

“Not only did we not go out of business, we were voted one of the Top Ten Quilt Shops in North America by American Patchwork & Quilting just three years later. It was in a magazine put out once a year,” Deb said. “Being chosen like that really put us on the map as a destination. After that, people started coming into Quitman with that magazine in hand. After our time in Quitman, we grew from 1,000 square feet to 7,200 square feet when we moved 10 miles down the road to Mineola in 2012.”

Clay joined the company in October 2016. He talked about the long term efforts for where they are now in the Quitman Business Park.

“You think it’s going to be good, but actually getting here and getting to utilize the space. We were so cramped in Mineola, we were basically on top of each other,” Clay noted. “Just the sheer fact of having adequate space for not only the inventory, which was a big which was a big part of it, but to get to build something from the ground up, design it with all this in mind and knowing all our current departments has been incredible.”

Deb added Clay’s involvement has been since he was very young.

“Clay has actually been involved since he was 12 years old. He has always been involved. Three years ago we needed to make a plan for the business going forward,” Deb explained. “We were talking one day and I told Clay there were three things you could do in a business as you get older. You can close a business, you can sell a business or you can find somebody to run the business to keep it going. He told me I was not going to close the business and I was not going to sell it, so he stepped up.”

Clay started working at an entry position.

“We needed somebody to answer the telephone. We had that position open and he wanted to come into the business. We agreed the best way for him to learn the business was to answer the phones,” Deb commented. “A few months later he bought us a telephone system that was automated so we didn’t have to have anyone answer the phone. Clay has been very instrumental in all of this. He brought the wisdom and confidence for us to be able to see a vision of something like we have here. I doubt seriously this would have happened had he not been involved.”

Prior to coming onboard at Stitchin’ Heaven he ran a travel company and Lone Star Laser Company. “We eventually transitioned the travel company to Stitchin’ Heaven and then I was just running Lone Star,” Clay said.

Deb claims quilters are a unique brand of folks. “Our quilters are real cool people because this hobby they have includes visiting quilt shops. Quilters, when they travel, want to visit quilt shops,” Deb remarked.

Clay gave another comparison. “It’s like the Harley (motorcycle) owner. They want to get the t-shirt and the accessories that go along with the projects,” Clay said.

“I originally just wanted to open a little quilt shop,” Deb said. “I came from a corporate job. I worked for GTE Directories in management. I left my corporate job. I always thought it would be cool to have a little quilt shop. There came a day when I realized I had never spent a summer with my son. The powers that be would not let me take off even without pay so I quit. Clay and I spent that summer together. We moved here and bought a place in Hainesville. Clay went to Quitman schools and graduated from here.”

Deb is excited about the future. “We have roots here. It’s a great community. We are real excited because we know what is going to happen, everybody else here does not know what is going to happen. This community will grow because we are here and I’m not saying that bragging. We have seen this with other businesses we follow and we know our customers and we know how they are,” Deb observed. “There’s no telling how much money has been poured into Quitman since we have been there because people are going to shop. They come here and they go shop, they go to the liquor store across the street, they buy gas, they buy groceries and that is how it happens.”

Why did they return to Quitman? “I would say we came to Quitman because of the business park. That was definitely a reason. The QDC (Quitman Development Corp.) played a big part also,” Clay interjected.

Deb talked about coming to Quitman. “I can’t tell you the importance of the QDC. Had it not been for Denea Hudman we would not be here. All I had to do is hint to her we were interested and she immediately set her sights that Stitchin’ Heaven would be moving here,” Deb continued. “She persisted and she did all the right things. She worked with the right people and she convinced us we could have a home here. That’s really why it happened. We were looking at other places strongly. Denea lured us away and it will pay Quitman back in the future.”

Stitchin’ Heaven is already the destination for bus loads of ladies coming from all over the nation to stop there, not just to shop, but to attend workshops led by the stars of the quilting world. Ladies come to workshops and use only the best equipment in quilting such as the Bernina 3 Series sewing machine.

The Luttrells and Stitchin’ Heaven are in phase two of a four phase project which they hope will employ 400 people in the near future. Plans are for a distribution center and facilities for overnight stays. In the near future construction will begin on 12 hotel-type rooms at the location for overnight travelers. They are also going to build 10 cottages just to the east of the facility.

They also sponsor 15 world-wide quilting cruises that are sold out consistently. “Quilters go on these cruises to quilt. They love not having to clean house, make up a bed and all those things. They get to enjoy the time and most of them spend it quilting and meeting other quilters and going to workshops,” Deb declared.

The mission of Stitchin’ Heaven is simple. It is “Wow people. Have fun. Be happy.”

The actual Grand Opening for Stitchin’ Heaven will be Feb. 13, 14, 15 with hundreds of visitors and media from across North America expected to be in attendance.

Today the business has over 40,000 on their in-store mailing list and over 60,000 registered internet friends and continues to grow on a daily basis. 

The future looks bright for Stitchin’ Heaven and the Luttrells which also includes Clay’s wife Rachel and their two children, three-year old Aspen and one-year old Beckham.

It’s time for Quitman to get ready because with Stitchin’ Heaven, things are going to start happening fast. Clay and I spent that summer together. We moved here and bought a place in Hainesville. Clay went to Quitman schools and graduated from here.”

Deb is excited about the future. “We have roots here. It’s a great community. We are real excited because we know what is going to happen, everybody else here does not know what is going to happen. This community will grow because we are here and I’m not saying that bragging. We have seen this with other businesses we follow and we know our customers and we know how they are,” Deb observed. “There’s no telling how much money has been poured into Quitman since we have been there because people are going to shop. They come here and they go shop, they go to the liquor store across the street, they buy gas, they buy groceries and that is how it happens.”

Why did they return to Quitman? “I would say we came to Quitman because of the business park. That was definitely a reason. The QDC (Quitman Development Corp.) played a big part also,” Clay interjected.

Deb talked about coming to Quitman. “I can’t tell you the importance of the QDC. Had it not been for Denea Hudman we would not be here. All I had to do is hint to her we were interested and she immediately set her sights that Stitchin’ Heaven would be moving here,” Deb continued. “She persisted and she did all the right things. She worked with the right people and she convinced us we could have a home here. That’s really why it happened. We were looking at other places strongly. Denea lured us away and it will pay Quitman back in the future.”

Stitchin’ Heaven is already the destination for bus loads of ladies coming from all over the nation to stop there, not just to shop, but to attend workshops led by the stars of the quilting world. Ladies come to workshops and use only the best equipment in quilting such as the Bernina 3 Series sewing machine.

The Luttrells and Stitchin’ Heaven are in phase two of a four phase project which they hope will employ 400 people in the near future. Plans are for a distribution center and facilities for overnight stays. In the near future construction will begin on 12 hotel-type rooms at the location for overnight travelers. They are also going to build 10 cottages just to the east of the facility.

They also sponsor 15 world-wide quilting cruises that are sold out consistently. “Quilters go on these cruises to quilt. They love not having to clean house, make up a bed and all those things. They get to enjoy the time and most of them spend it quilting and meeting other quilters and going to workshops,” Deb declared.

The mission of Stitchin’ Heaven is simple. It is “Wow people. Have fun. Be happy.”

The actual Grand Opening for Stitchin’ Heaven will be Feb. 13, 14, 15 with hundreds of visitors and media from across North America expected to be in attendance.

Today the business has over 40,000 on their in-store mailing list and over 60,000 registered internet friends and continues to grow on a daily basis. 

The future looks bright for Stitchin’ Heaven and the Luttrells which also includes Clay’s wife Rachel and their two children, three-year old Aspen and one-year old Beckham.

It’s time for Quitman to get ready because with Stitchin’ Heaven, things are going to start happening fast.

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