We had the good fortune of connecting with Jackie Kunkel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jackie , alright, let’s jump in with a deep one – what’s you’re definition for success?
I always find this question interesting. I believe that success is a state of mind for sure. For me, success is not only setting your mind to a task and completing it, but really feeling happiness in that completion. You can finish something just to finish it, but not feel satisfied or fulfilled when it is complete. I think that happens more than most like to admit. But when I really feel success is when something is completed and I have made myself and others happy. It is that moment of celebration, deep seated celebration!!! That to me is success!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
First and foremost, I am a quilter. Many, when they hear the word quilter, think of the old fashioned quilting bees where women sat around a frame and quilted a quilt all together. This is not the way it is at all and hasn’t been for decades. What I do is so much more modern. Designing quilts with points, curves, and many geometric shapes and then cutting and sewing beautiful cotton fabrics into those pieces to make a quilt top, is definitely a craft. I have sewn pretty much all my life. I began in my 6th grade Home Economics class in 1975. But I pretty much sewed only garments. Then for a long period of time there was no sewing. In 1993, I was pregnant with my daughter and I dragged out the sewing machine. I began to sew baby clothes. Then in came my husband and suggested that I get a “hobby”. I wasn’t aware that I needed one. But I went and took a quilting class. Guess what? I didn’t like it. However, I decided to take a second one and it was all over then. I was in love with the craft. During the process of learning the beginnings of quilting there was bit of a learning curve, but not much. Since I already had sewing as a foundation, it was a pretty smooth transition. Once I had the basics down, I was eager to learn more techniques that were complex and challenging. Still to this day, I continue to learn more and more. I believe that learning new skills is a lifelong process. Soak it all in and go out and challenge yourself. You never know, you might like it. My business is called Canton Village Quilt Works and became that name since I had lived in Canton, CT prior to moving to AZ in 2016. During the time I became a business from 2000-present (2020, I can’t believe it has been 20 years!), my business has morphed and evolved to suit the needs of the industry. I have worn many hats and continue to do so. It is my belief that if you don’t change with your industry and the times, then you might possibly be setting yourself up for failure. Constantly challenge yourself and embrace what you actually might fear. Do what you do best, and don’t compare yourself to others.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There is so much to do here in the Valley of the Sun! My husband and I adore hiking and would definitely take them on some of the most beautiful hikes around the valley. We love to hike in Tonto National Forest, The Superstition Wilderness, and Usery Regional Park. One of my most favorite places to hike is in the Chiracahuas just east of Tucson. So beautiful and peaceful. But we travel all over AZ to find new and exciting hikes. We also LOVE to go out and socialize with friends to some great restaurants around the valley. Some of the best places are the smallest places. An all time top of the list for us is Fuego Bistro in Phoenix, Grimaldi’s for Pizza, Thai Plates in Mesa for Thai Food, The Dhaba in Tempe for Indian, and Dolce Vita in Mesa for THE best Gelato in the Valley. But there are so many more places that we love! Do you have several more pages for them? I can list them… 😁 We also love the Desert Botanical Gardens, The MIM (Musical Instrument Museum), Boyce Thompson Arboretum, LOVE to snag a Spring Training game or two, and we LOVE all the live concerts and try to go to as many as possible. Another fantastic place that we frequent is the Mesa Arts Center, love the shows and everything they have to offer.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband. He was the actual person who urged me to get a “hobby” back in 1993. Little did we both know that in 2000, I would turn that “hobby” into a business from home. He has been there supporting me all along the way. When the kids were smaller, he would be there when I had to work. When I wrote my first book, he was extremely supportive during all my deadlines. Then came the launch of my book at the wholesale trade event for our industry, he came along and stood by me while I signed copies! It was lots of fun having him there for me. He came to meetings with me when I was pitching ideas. When I travel the country to teach and lecture, sometimes he will come along to help out. So if it wasn’t for his support I think things could have been very different.