Missouri Star Quilt Company | Arts Upload


– Given that you”ve traveled
many a back road, I”m guessing you”ve been
to Hamilton, Missouri? – Absolutely, Highway 36
just east of Cameron, best known, probably,
as the birthplace of JC Penney. – But that isn”t why
downtown Hamilton is such a busy place
these days. – No, it”s almost like
a vision quest for quilters anymore thanks to it being
the headquarters of Missouri Star
Quilt Company. – As producer
Ashley Holcroft shows us, family and fabric
are coming together, creating quite
a quilting empire in rural Missouri.[soft music]♪ ♪– Like many of America”s
great small towns,
Hamilton, Missouri, has seen
its glory days come and go.
♪ ♪But that all began to change
in 2008
when the fates of a familyand this town
of less than 1,800
became entwined,
turning something very bad
into something very good.– In 2008, there was
a major crash. We lost all of our retirement,
my husband and I. And the children started
thinking about what we could do in our retirement that would keep us
out of their basement. –The paths
to their ultimate success
would be lit
by a simple question.
– One day, I was going
to pick up a quilt that had been quilted,
and my son said, “Well, what quilt is this?” And I said, “I don”t even know.” And he says, “Are you–what do
you mean, you don”t know?” And I said, “I can”t remember
what it was. I took it there
over a year ago.” And so he starts thinking
about this, and finally he says to me,
“Is this a thing? “I mean, this long-arm quilting, is this something
you could do?” “Because if it”s–if these
people are backed up a year, you know, there”s a market
for that.”And so they decided
to buy me a quilt machine.
– A quilt machine that was
too big for the house
and cost more than the building
they bought to house it.
– You have this little
thousand-square-foot shop,
and you could open the door
and peek in
and, like, see nothing
and be like, “Okay, I”m good.”
We”re like, “Oh, no! We got to come in.”We decided that we should start
doing YouTube videos
to tell people about quilting,so we looked online,
and there just wasn”t a lot
of great video content there. And I was like, “Hey, Mom,
you want to do tutorials?” – “Okay, I”m game,
but what”s a tutorial?”– Let”s just say that she got
the gist of it quickly,
and soon they were
racking up viewers on YouTube,
a growing group who not only
wanted to quilt with Jenny
but quilt like Jenny quilted.– People started calling us,
and they would say, “Hey, you know that fabric
you used in that video? I”d like to buy some of that.” And I was like,
“Well, that”s my fabric.” And they were like,
“Well, I want some.” And I”m like, “But it”s mine,”
you know? And they”d be like,
“Well, where did you get it?” And I”d be like, “Oh.” I”d think back, and I”d think,
“Oh, 1984, Ben Franklin.”You know, I had no idea
where I got that fabric.
So I said, “Kids,maybe we should think
about selling fabric.”
So we check into it.
We couldn”t afford it.
– But help was on the way.Enter the newly minted
Moda pre-cuts.
– So it was one square
of every fabric in the line, and they were
in these little packets.So I would make a project
out of a packet,
and we”d buy one bolt.So we started doing that,
and that and YouTube
is what catapulted us into
being a familiar to people.
People were looking online for easy and quick ways
to do things, and then they”re like, “Well, I could just buy
one of those packs,” you know. And so that”s really kind of when things start getting
a little bigger for us. –Being catapulted
into familiarity
has its perks,
but growth has its demands.
That”s where the Doanswere uniquely positioned
to succeed.
– Thankfully, we”ve got,
you know, seven kids in the family, and we”re all willing
to work for free for several years
before we got a paycheck. And by doing that, we were able
to pivot and iterate and iterate and try
and do things.And then we finally found
stuff that stuck.
– We are a normal family.We all are very strong,
opinionated people.
We all don”t have any problem
sharing our opinion. But the reason we have owners is because the buck
has to stop with someone. Now, in the beginning,
the kids said, you know, “Mom, do you want to be
one of the owners?” And I don”t.
I don”t. I”m a really good worker. I”m a really good face
for the company. But I don”t own the company, and there has to be somebody
in charge. –Of Jenny and Ron”s
seven children,
five work for MSQC,
and two are owners.
Sarah is in chargeof the customers” experience
in town.
– How we”re decided
to do it is kind of get different styles
of fabric per shop. There was a bunch of buildings
available that were kind of just sitting, that hadn”t really been
rented out. And so we just kind of purchased
one at a time, and we”ve been able to bring them back to life,
essentially.At first, we were worried.Would people want to walk
from store to store?
You know, it”s outside. We have–
I mean, it”s Missouri, so we have freezing weather, and we have hot weather,
you know? And, really, I kind of–
I tease that it cleanses
your palate, right, from each little walk. You”re like, “Okay,
I”m ready to see more.” –One of Alan”s long-time
friends, Dave Mifsud,
tends the finances,while Al oversees
the customer experience online.
– Quilters are sort of
this group that– they don”t get enough credit,
right? They”re like the happiest,
more cheerful,most supportive,
most loving people.
Like, I built the website,
right?
I built it from scratch.And then we launch it,
and it breaks,
and you get these people
that”ll be like,
“Hey, just so you know, “things aren”t working so good
on the webs–I”ll hold my order. “Don”t worry about a thing.
I”ll be back. “I know it”s probably hard
today. It”s a big day.” I”m like, “Really? Oh, thanks, guys, ”cause
it”s really hard over here.” And I”m like,
“I am stressing out.” And they”re like,
“Don”t worry about a thing.“It”s quilting, right?It”s been around forever.”And it”s like, “Yeah,
but this isn”t your mom”s quilt shop, right?” This is a new way of doing it. We”re kind of reinvigorating
this industry.What we saw was that, like,
moms and my grandma,
they love to quilt,
but Sarah, my sister,
she doesn”t have three months
to put into making a quilt.
So we had to simplify it.We had to make it easier.And so we had to come up
with these ideas
to be able to let people
make a quilt in a day.
You know, we”re just trying
to figure out ways
of letting people
experience success
and have a good interaction
with the hobby and the art of quilting
and then circle back. And, like, you”ll do your bigger, crazier,
more intense stuff as you get
more and more confident.– What started with a single
long-arm quilting machine
has ballooned to 13 buildings,
over 400 employees,
a national small business
award,
a massive new warehouse.The Missouri Star
Quilt Company
is still steaming ahead.But for this family,
success has come
in both tangible
and intangible forms.
– What I didn”t realize
in the beginning was–
for me,
this was all about sewing,and I really thought
I was sewing.
Now these letters
start coming,
and they come from women
who are handicapped,
women who have MS,a man with agoraphobiawho, he says, “I know I”m in
a prison of my own making, but for the first time
in my life,” he says, “I feel like I am doing
something that matters.” Who–who gets to have those kind
of stories told to them? Who gets to do that? It”s been more than anything
I ever dreamt of. – You know, there are
some nice parallels with Missouri Star here. Unruh Furniture started
in a garage in Grandview and now employs
over 20 people who work in this
36,000-square-foot facility. – Our next story
is also about building, just not using
traditional materials. – It”s about putting together
a really big show that brings in
really big bucks for the UMKC Conservatory. – It”s called Crescendo,
and back in November, producer-videographer
John McGrath got to see the gala
getting its act together. [orchestra tuning] [“O Fortuna” playing] ♪ ♪ – We”ll have them
across the back and intentionally
up in the stairwells. ♪ ♪ Can I see a show of hands? Anybody who”s never done
Crescendo before, raise your hand. Fantastic.
That”s quite a lot of you.– Well, here at Crescendo,we have numerous performances by all the artists and students
here at the Conservatory.It”s our fall fundraising gala,so we try to showcase
all of the talents
and things that we offer
at the Conservatory.
– Crescendo performance
is a seamless show.We go from piece to piece
without applause in between.
It takes about a year
to plan Crescendo. They”ve already got
next year”s date set, and they”re gonna start
working on the theme and everything else. And throughout that year,
we talk about thingsand plan things,
and we put pencil to paper,
and we think, we dream,and it can get kind of daunting
after a while.
We”ve been doing Crescendo
in this format
for about the last six years.It”s sometimes hard for usto get music students
and dance students
on the same stage
at the same time.
This allows them an opportunity
to do those things together.
[applause] Thank you.
Appreciate that. So here”s the rough order
of the show.You”re gonna see the orchestra,
the wind symphony, the choir.
You”ll see some jazz bands.
You”ll see dancers.
You”ll see
some of our professorsin brass and oboe and piano.And you”ll see
everything we do together
at some points as well.Thinking about getting
from piece to piece to piecehappens instantly,
automatically,
and we have to get
the right people
in the right place
at the right time.
So we”re gonna spend
a little bit of time
practicing the transitions,and then we”re gonna run it
top to bottom.
– Okay, this is your cue
to tune, like cue to go. – We will go through it
cue to cue,so we”ll do lots of sitting
and standing
and running through
the light cues.
– As soon as you see lights
hit you, that”s your cues to go.– And then after that,we”ll do another run-through
of the show
and fix any problem areas.– Trying to fit all those bodies
on there with all the intricate moves–
and it is a ballet,so it”s very hard
to fit them all there,
but we try to make it work
the best we can.
– But the great part about it
is, once we”re all in the room
and the kids are making music,everything that we”ve done
to plan comes to fruition,
and it”s always a feeling
of joy.
[laughter] – I think
it”s just most important the students get a chance
to get out into the communityand we get to play at Kauffmanin this awesome
performance center
and we get to show the people
here in Kansas City
what we”re doing
at the Conservatory
and the music we”re making
and the work we”re doing.
– Oh, my gosh, Helzberg Hall
of the Conference Center. Amazing we get so many
opportunities to perform here,so when we are here,
we cherish every moment.
[orchestra tuning] – It is very cool.The acoustics in this building
were made very specifically
for this kind of performance.And, actually, my father
worked on this building, so it”s very cool for me
to come backto this place
and hear what it”s like,
this thing
that he helped create.
– It”s amazing to play here.
I love playing here. I”ve been playing here
for a few years now.The symphony, we played here.And just getting to play here
is an awesome opportunity
to give us just a chance
to see what it can be like
once we get out into the world.We”re training to be
the big shots, and those big shots
were in our shoeswhen they started,
and they did the same thing,
and now they”re there,and we”re gonna be there
shortly, so…
– These are where
the pros come from, and this is what we”re here
to do.These students will amaze you
unbelievably
in how incredibly talented
they are.
They don”t look like students;
they look like professionals.
It”s a mix of our very best
faculty and students on stage.
It”s the best and brightest
of what we do
all at one time.– We are professionals
in training,
so it”s a good wayto encourage those people so you have people to see
in the future, because if you don”t
encourage us now,there may not be any
professionals to see later on.
[music fades]– From me to you,
thank you.Thank you for your time.Thank you for your artistry.Thank you for being hereand for making this
a special place to be.
[soft piano music]♪ ♪– The 55th annual
Grammy Awards will be handed out
in Los Angeles this weekend, and, you know, some local folks
might just walk away with one. – Joyce DiDonato,
the Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City Chorale,
and Pat Metheny all have nominations. – But this next story
is about someone who never won one and, except for
the true aficionados, has largely been forgotten. – Gene Clark was
a founding member of The Byrds and so beloved that a symposium
about him and his music drew fans from across
the country in 2014. – Here”s a look back
at a piece that first aired
on “Arts Upload” two years ago.– ♪ Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man ♪♪ Play a song for me ♪♪ In the jingle jangle
morning ♪ ♪ I”ll come following you ♪– He was born
in Tipton, Missouri,
and his family moved
to Kansas City
when he was a baby
a grew up here, went to Raytown High and then graduated
from Bonner Springs High. So he was an important part
of Kansas City”s music history. – You know, Gene,
he heard The Beatles, and that kind of changed
his mind about wanting to stay
just in the folk vein. –It was folk music
back in 1963
which first whisked Gene
away from Kansas City.
It seemed several members
of the New Christy Minstrels–
remember them?–
were in town,
performing
at Starlight Theatre,
saw Gene”s group,
The Surf Riders,
playing at a club
on the landing,
and pretty much offered him
a job on the spot.
Just a year later,
Gene Clark”s storybook tale
took another amazing turn.– He met Roger McGuinn
at the Troubadour in Hollywood
after he left
Christy Minstrels.
And David Crosby ambled overand started singing
some third-part harmonies. And before you knew it,
The Byrds were born. – ♪ And I”ll probably feel
a whole lot better ♪ ♪ When you”re gone ♪ ♪ Ah, when you”re gone ♪♪ Ah, when you”re gone ♪– By the time
Gene was 21 years old,
he had a number one hit.Only about a year before that,he was out driving a tractor
in a field. So it was kind of, you know,
“Pssssw!” You know, a sky rocket
to the Moon kind of thing. ♪ ♪ – ♪Well, I”ve been
running around ♪ – ♪ Trying to prove
I was a lover ♪ –But the man who took us
eight miles high
couldn”t maintain the orbit
for long.
Just two years later,ironically in part due
to a fear of flying,
Gene left the groupto embark on a series
of solo projects
and musical partnerships
with some of the best
folk, rock, and country players
around,
a 25-year musical odyssey
detailed in a documentary
called
“The Byrd Who Flew Alone.”
– ♪ And I laughed
as the joker said, “Lean on” ♪ –And all along, he continued
to make music
admired by his peersbut largely ignored
by the record-buying public.
– ♪ There”s a train
leaves here this morning ♪ ♪ I don”t know
what I might be on ♪ –In 1991, burdened by problems
with drugs and alcohol,
Gene Clark died
at the age of only 46.
– ♪ Have you seen
the changing rivers? ♪ ♪ Now they wait their turn
to die ♪ – There”s a handful of his songs that people just go crazy over. And once they hear those, they want to go
a little bit deeper. And they get a little bit deeper
into the catalog, and they find another handful
that they like just as well.And then they”ll go
a little bit deeper.
And at that point,
you”re stuck, you know? It”s like the La Brea Tar Pits. – ♪ Have you seen ♪ – ♪ Have you seen ♪ both: ♪ The silver raven? ♪ – ♪ She has wings ♪ both: ♪ And she can fly ♪ – Cell phone?
Thank you. –Though it”s mostly symbolic,the “no cell phone” rule
to prohibit bootlegging
is in effect
here at the Phillips hotel
just three days after
what would have been
Gene Clark”s 70th birthday.Like the first one
three years earlier,
this symposium
has drawn participants
from near and far–the kind of writers, fans,
and collectors
who just can”t get enough
of the music Gene Clark made.
– Some of them come
from original tape reels
from 1966 that Gene actually made
as five demo songs.– ♪ You said, “I love you ♪♪ Wish you were here” ♪– Gene Clark, in my opinion,
will be seen in history
as the greatest combination
singer-songwriter who”s ever lived. – To me, he”s up there
with Neil Young and Bob Dylan and at that level. But people–
you know, “Gene who?” – He had a great voice. He had great lyrics,
incredible music.Just ethereal music,almost like a Mozart
or Puccini.
– ♪Just one more time ♪– I”m a musician myself,so I tend to hear
the chord changes.
And one of the songs
they just played, I”m sitting there going,
“Okay, that”s C, E minor.” And then all of a sudden, it”s like,
“What the heck was that?”David Crosby said Gene Clark
didn”t know the rules
for writing music,so he just wrote it
however he wanted it to sound.
♪That could make you reel ♪– What a prolific songwriter
he was.
It never stopped.Till the day he died,
he was still producing music.
I”m fascinated
by his creativity.
There”s only
a certain percentage
of all that stuff that he wrotethat ever made it
to being released records,
and I want to hear it all.– ♪ Wish you were here ♪– Deep discussions
about deep cuts
dominate the proceedings.But there”s also time
for symposium goers
to get out and see
some of the places
that helped shape
Gene Clark”s art,
like this railroad trestle
near the family”s home
at the edge of Swope Park.He later wrote a song
called “Kansas City Southern.”
Or the venerable old
Dari Dine,
where Bonner Spring teens
like Gene
spent lots
of their leisure time.
And, of course,
100 miles to the east,
his first home
and final resting place.
This year, Tipton, Missouri,
and Los Angeles
also held
Gene Clark tribute concerts.
[gentle music]– There was just something
about Gene
that people were drawn tonot in terms
of his musical talent
and his songwriting abilitybut just, you know,
him as a person. Despite, you know, whatever
demons he might have had and things he struggled with,
he was still– people still loved Gene a lot.– I here set my handto be caused to be affixed
this great seal
that proclaims November 17th
to be Gene Clark Day in Missouri. [cheers and applause]– ♪ Baby, for a long time ♪– ♪Baby,
for a long time ♪– To hear R.E.M.and what they did
in Athens, Georgia, you know,
or in the early ”90s,
country sound in Nashville,
it”s a big Byrds influence.It”s, you know, a big
Gene Clark influence all over.
Those songs have endured,
you know, some of them for 50 years, and I think they”ll continue
to endure. – ♪ And I”ll probably feel
a whole lot better ♪ ♪ When you”re gone ♪ ♪ Ah, when you”re gone ♪– Unruh Furniturehere at 36th and Walnut sits in an imposing structure,
to say the least. Originally, this was Westminster
Congregational Church,built in 1904.Sam Unruh was looking
for a place
where he could turn out
custom-made desks
and cabinets and beds
and tables
and people could actually watch
as the stuff was being made.
[upbeat music]♪ ♪– The Unruh mission
is about character and detail,
not mass production,and it”s really
an experience in itself
to see what they”ve done
with the place.
Nothing quite like it.♪ ♪– As hard
as these guys work here,
everything stops at 10:00
on Wednesday mornings
so they can engage
in a rousing game
of a kind of ping-pong
called sprinkles
that keeps everybody
on their toes.
– Yeah!
– Whoa!♪ ♪– Not the camera. – Run, run.♪ ♪– Well, as is often the case
on “Arts Upload,” we”ll wrap up with a piece
from one of our PBS peers. – It comes
from Boulder, Colorado, where Bryce Widom
has been leaving behind a trail of masterworks
in chalk on the menu boards
of restaurants and bars.[upbeat music]– One of the reasons I love
working with chalk specifically
is that it”s like painting
while drawing.
Pretty much how I paint is
whatever is most alive in me,
ends up going through me,
sifting through, and then it comes out like this.♪ ♪Me drawing these people,
these characters
who had something to teach me that I wanted to become
in some way. And that actually helps
to lead me,maybe parts of me
that I”m a little leery
of fully stepping into.I recently did a woman
with a sword.
There”s a parallel
in drawing–
like, having a sword
and making lines in space,
just like every time
that I make a mark like this,
it”s actually movement,and it moves stagnancy
that is in me.
♪ ♪Painting helps in so many ways.Where is the flow?Where is the movement
in this creative act,
this creative composition?It releases the contraction
in me that has me so often
getting headachesso that if I keep
the energy moving,
there”s a freedom in that.These chalkboards
are all related
to the season that we”re in.Right here, there”s gonna be
a lot of green coming up,
and this is spring
and then flowers,
buds going into full blossom,and then the phoenix
in the fire
is like the peak of summer,so that cycle
of life, death, rebirth.
Because the artwork
is happening in accordance with this timing
in nature and the seasons,then maybe it”ll help
all of us
when we”re on our phones
and we”re in this world
and we have this schedulethat is not exactly related
to what”s happening in nature.
But part of my aspiration
is that this could pull people
into a different type
of timing, nature timing.
♪ ♪All these people who come
and say that they, like,
experienced a really hard
moment in their life
while they were sitting
at a table, like in a pub,
and there”s something
about the artwork
that allowed them to be
with their experience
in a more real way.Other people who have gotten,
like, engaged
while that artwork was there,and it serves
as a marker for them.
So just the excitement
and the joy and the inspiration
that I hear when people are like,
“Oh, you”re that guy,”that spark of lifeand that spark of a potentialthat wasn”t there
that now is in them,
that”s beautiful to me.– Wow, what can you say? We”ve had just a little bit
of everything in this week”s show,
from chalk to quilts, with music theater and even a little ping-pong
thrown in. – I can say
we have to leave now and leave the folks
at Unruh Furniture to keep working wood
the way they do so well. – But we”ll be back next week
at the Uptown Theater looking at
Folk Alliance International and painter Delores Shipley. – Till then, I”m Vanessa Severo
in for Maris Aylward. – And I”m Randy Mason.
Thanks for watching. [upbeat music] ♪ ♪ – ♪ Now I gotta say ♪ -♪ Now I gotta say ♪ – ♪ That it”s not
like before ♪ – ♪That it”s not like before ♪ – ♪ And I”m not gonna play ♪ -♪ And I”m not
gonna play ♪ – ♪ Your games anymore ♪ ♪ After what you did ♪ -♪ After what you did ♪ – ♪ I can”t stay on ♪ ♪ And I”ll probably ♪ all:♪Feel a whole lot better ♪ ♪ When you”re gone ♪ ♪ Ah, when you”re gone ♪ ♪ Ah, when you”re gone ♪ ♪ Ah, when you”re gone ♪ ♪ ♪ [applause]female announcer:
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