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Quilting a Rural Fabric
When you open the door of the Hen & Chicks Studio in
downtown Conrad, Iowa, get set to cross over the threshold into an oasis of
creativity and unbridled adventure.
Beyond the colorful quilt displays and array of fabrics, you
might see a dozen young kids engrossed in making paper bag scrapbooks. Nearby,
a group of women known as The Happy Hookers could be perfecting the art of
traditional rug hooking.
Heidi Kaisand, owner of Hen & Chicks, watches over her
customers like a mother hen. "I'm constantly searching to bring in
creative people who can help unleash the creativity in all of us," she
She purchased the shell of the old store building in August
2011 (it had housed a quilt shop), and after extensive renovation, she opened
her new business in October.
Kaisand, former editor of Better Homes and Gardens American
Patchwork & Quilting magazine for 15
years, had commuted 140 miles daily to and from work in Des Moines – until the
birth of twin daughters, Goldie and Virginia, now 5 years old. Son Henry is 8 years old. Kaisand's husband, Jeff, is a
veterinarian who farms part time and operates a small cow-calf herd.
In 2007, she accepted a position that would allow her to
work from home: a national sales manager for APQS, a long-arm quilting machine
Quilting is a lifelong passion for Kaisand, inspired by her
grandmother. She started by quilting pillows and made her first quilt as a
9-year-old 4-Her. Her first full-size quilt was selected for the Iowa State
Fair when she was a high school sophomore.
If you look around her shop, you'll see quilts made by her
grandmother. "She made beautiful, traditional, and timeless quilts,"
In addition to fabric and quilting supplies, Hen &
Chicks Studio features a full calendar of events. Kaisand invites master
quilters, craft instructors, and other artists to host workshops. Janet Brandt
(janetbrandt.com) is one such embroidery expert extraordinaire.
Other regular events include Sit and Sew every other Friday,
and Click and Crop, a group of traditional and digital scrapbookers. Kaisand is
a Creative Memories consultant. Saturday, October 20, is a special all-day
The Wednesday Wool Club meets monthly to work on appliqué
blocks from the book Wool Crazy by JoAnn Mullaly.
Grown-up play dates
Kaisand added a retreat center known as The Nest on the
upper floor of the old store. It's fully equipped with a furnished kitchen,
dining area, craft area, three full bathrooms, laundry, and dorm-style sleeping
facilities that can accommodate up to 20 quilters or scrapbookers. Each bed is
topped with a unique homemade quilt and partitioned by a hand-painted door.
She installed heat and air conditioning, and the first
retreat was held November 9, 2011.
The next 12-hour Come Play with Me Retreat is Saturday,
November 17. "The idea is to come for a day and complete multiple projects
– quilts or scrapbooks, whatever you want – and walk out of here with something
finished," Kaisand says. "One woman brought her Christmas cards."
The Nest is available for private rental.
October marks the one-year anniversary of Hen & Chicks
Studio. "I come from a family who's creative and entrepreneurial,"
Kaisand says. "Several aunts own businesses in small towns. With hard
work, dedication, and a passion for building a business, I've watched them
Hen & Chicks Studio
101 North Main Street, P.O. Box 70
Conrad, IA 50621
641/366-3336 | henandchicksstudio.com
Kaaisand will be sharing her talents and tips on Family
Treasures January 30 in Kansas City at the AG CONNECT Expo.