“It all started in 1975. We had been in Sisters, Oregon for a year, and I wanted a place where I could teach quilting and sell supplies,” recalls Jean Wells Keenan. “I took $3,500 from my teachers retirement account to rent space, and that year we put on the first Sisters Quilt Show featuring 12 local quilts.” Today Jean, a 1965 graduate in home economics education, looks back on her successful career, a journey fueled by her love of teaching. “I love to create an environment that inspires creativity then watch people learn,” she says.
If you walk into the now legendary Stitchin’ Post in Sisters, inspiration abounds. Quilts hang everywhere, row upon row of fabric lures you and knowledgeable sales people are there to advise you on your next project. “We’re like a family,” says Jean of her 12 full-time and 13 part-time employees and co-owner daughter Valori Wells Kennedy. “This is one big job that we share.” Jean wrote her first book in 1978 on quilted clothing for kids and soon became a well-known author in the world of quilting. Now with 27 books to her name, she travels frequently to teach and lecture — throughout the U.S. and to countries including South Africa, New Zealand, France, Taiwan and England. The Sisters Quilt Show has literally branded the town and in 2008 featured 1300 quilts from across the country and around the world. Jean has been named Citizen of the Year and the Stitchin’ Post Business of the Year by the Sisters Chamber of Commerce. National accolades for the business include being named the first independent retailer inducted into the Craft Trends magazine independent retailer Hall of Fame and receiving the Michael Kyle award for Excellence in Quilting. Jean’s husband John owns Bronco Billy’s, originally the Sisters Hotel and their son Jason is in banking in Portland.
Visit the Stitchin’ Post in Sisters or at stitchinpost.com.