When sisters Emily and Miriam Coffey decided to make a special quilt for their good friend who was facing an uncertain future, little did they know the quilt would travel around the world. The quilt was a piece stitched with love to give their friend strength and hope while fighting cancer. While cancer won the battle, the quilt is still inspiring people. After its traveling days are over, the quilt will have a permanent home with the two-year old surviving daughter. And what a story it will inspire.

The Coffey sisters started planning to open their business, Coffey Quilt Lab, a year ago. They took a hand quilting class and fell in love with it.

“For us, quilting was a very social thing. It was something we could do together,” explains Emily.

Next the Coffeys started thinking about how they could use their talents to make a living. Emily holds a doctorate in conservation ecology and has experience teaching at the collegiate level. Miriam went to college to become a fiber artist and spent years as a fashion designer. Putting their heads together, the pair came up with an innovative twist on the traditional, Coffey Quilt Lab. Based in Lake Junaluska, the business is a long arm quilting business. Taking quilt tops sewn by customers, the sisters stitch them together with backing and batting to give the quilts intricate, quality stitching.

The name of their business is a spinoff of Emily’s scientific background where the quilts are an experimentation with color and fabric.

The Coffey’s winning quilt was awarded the Judges’ Choice Award at the Modern Quilt Guild’s QuiltCon 2015 International Show & Conference. As a result, the quilt travels internationally as a display piece. The quilt also won first place in the Modern category at the American Quilters Society International Show in Kentucky.  

“We are overwhelmed by the awards this quilt has received,” Emily says. “We did not make it to submit in shows. We made it for our friend using over 100 different fabrics. But we are honored and humbled by the outcome.”

To get their business up and running, they started taking free seminars through Haywood Community College’s Small Business Center. “We were really impressed with the services offered through the center,” Emily says. “Katy (HCC’s Small Business Center Director) helped us understand what we needed to do. We were able to utilize her knowledge and the resources available at the center. Just knowing we had these resources was so reassuring and helpful.”

HCC’s Small Business Center offers confidential counseling services, seminars, and access to resource libraries free of charge to new and existing businesses.

 According to Emily, “People don’t realize how valuable HCC’s Small Business Center is or how much it has to offer. It is a really important asset.”

For more information about Coffey Quilt Lab, please visit their website at www.coffeyquiltlab.com.

Visit SBC.Haywood.edu or call 828.627.4512 for additional information or to register today. Thinking about starting a business in Haywood County or growing an existing business? Take advantage of the programs, services and resources provided by the Small Business Center. The NC Community College’s Small Business Center Network assists in starting an average of more than 600 businesses each year. Small Business Centers have an economic impact in 90% of all NC Counties each year, helping to create and retain nearly 3,000 jobs annually.