Kristi Schroeder can thank her mom for her fortuitous career path.
In 2009, the graphic designer was home for the holidays in Port Aransas and asked her crafty mother, Kay—an avid quilter—to make place mats for a dinner party Kristi and her friends were throwing. Instead of obliging her daughter, Kay told Kristi she would teach her how to do it herself. She dusted off a 1920s Featherweight and showed Kristi the ropes. “She had nicer machines, but that one was simple in that you just flip the switch, and it’s straight-line stitching,” Kristi says. “It wasn’t as hard as I thought.”
Kristi started to take on small projects here and there, mostly gifts for friends. But after taking a quilting introduction class at now-defunct City Craft, she was hooked. Through trial and error, Kristi eventually taught herself how to make patterns. She found herself favoring striking color combinations and non-traditional designs—cascading ombré motifs, for example, or arrowhead shapes in bold black-and-white. Soon she was making graphic baby quilts to give as shower presents.
At that time, quilting was merely a creative outlet for Kristi, who worked as a graphic designer for architecture firm Corgan, and later, Neiman Marcus. But before long, she started to feel burned out by her day job and decided to take time off in May 2014 to regroup. It took just two months for the budding quilter to take her hobby full-time, launching Initial K Studio.
“I had no existing clients or existing retail,” she says. “I went in feet first. My friends who know me well know that’s typical.”
That holiday season, she showcased her work at The Dallas Flea, the Etsy Jingle Bash, and a holiday bazaar in San Antonio. From there, word about her modern quilts started to spread, and business grew—especially on the commission side. “Whatever you can dream, I can try to make it,” she says.
For her commissioned pieces, Kristi interviews the client about the theme and color scheme of the room and asks for tear sheets and inspiration photos. Once she has a feel for the look, she designs three versions based on the feedback and collaborates with the client to finalize size, design, and fabric. “I usually sketch it out, but it depends on the client and how complex the design is,” she explains. The quilts are heirloom quality and range from $350 for a baby quilt to $2,500 for a king-size.
Kristi offers a robust selection of ready-made quilts and pillows in various colors, patterns, and sizes on her website. And Dallas shop owners have begun to take notice of her one-of-a-kind designs too, with local stores Read Between the Lines and Neighborhood now carrying her goods. But it’s not just the modernists who have embraced her: Kristi says the traditional quilting community has welcomed her and her fresh approach with open arms.
As for her mom? “Our tastes are totally different,” she says. “But she appreciates the modern designs. My mom is always my number-one fan.”