True of many entrepreneurs, Zoey Zeller of rural Ottosen has taken her passion from a hobby to a start-up business. When Zoey’s father encouraged his then high school-aged daughter to learn how to sew and quilt like her grandmother, neither of them realized what would come of it.
Zoey began quilting at age 16. Not only was she quite skilled at it, but she also thoroughly loved her newfound hobby. She particularly enjoyed creating baby quilts – from choosing the fabric and pattern to the heartwarming joy shared by parents who received her baby quilts.
Zeller saw the opportunity to turn her quilting hobby into a profitable venture. In 2019, while still in high school, she launched her business on Etsy, an online global marketplace. Her product offerings included baby quilts, adult quilts, and dog bandanas. Zeller’s creative talents and her product offerings continued to blossom. After receiving a Cricut machine for Christmas, she began making wooden signs with customized messages. She purchases the wood, cuts and stains it, assembles the frames, and then applies the customized verbiage. The signs are trendy home décor accents, and they make great gifts. Zeller finds it rewarding to create signs that either has special meaning or are for special occasions, such as weddings, new homes, the birth of a baby, etc.
This talented young entrepreneur’s most recent venture equally complements her business and passion. Recently Zeller purchased a longarm quilting machine, and she provides longarm quilting service for quilters. Longarm quilting is the process of taking the three layers of a quilt (the quilt top, batting, and the back) and machine stitching it together. The process produces a beautifully stitched final product. Many quilters either don’t have the time and/or the equipment to stitch their quilt project, so having a local longarm quilting service is appreciated, especially by someone as knowledgeable about and talented at the craft as Zeller.
Not only is Zeller unique in being a quilter and business owner at such a young age, but she also manages it while attending Iowa Lakes Community College full time. Through this experience, she has learned the value of time management, organization, creating a plan, setting goals, and having a support system – all critically important for start-up founders. She attributes her success to her parents, Jim and Jody Zeller, who have been her avid supporters and cheerleaders throughout her journey. Zeller has also benefited from the services of the Tietz Entrepreneurial Center, who has provided her business guidance and mentoring. Zeller participated in the Tietz Center’s Youth Entrepreneur Showcase at the 2021 Kossuth County Fair and she recently attended the Young Entrepreneur’s Convention with Tietz Entrepreneurial Center Coordinator Shelly Brown and several other student entrepreneurs.
Zeller encourages others to pursue their passion and reach out to local and industry resources for assistance and mentoring. Her entrepreneurial journey continues to evolve, and she plans to own a fabric store someday.
Connect with entrepreneur Zoey Zeller and her business, Rural Creations LLC, on Facebook.