We had the good fortune of connecting with Carol Schneider and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carol, how do you think about risk?
I think that professional risk taking is in my DNA. In one of my many lives, I was a successful senior editor for an educational publisher in the New York/New Jersey area. On the wall of my office was a sign: “South Dakota or Bust.” People didn’t know what that sign meant, and I didn’t necessarily offer an explanation. Secretly, it was my goal to leave the big city and go to work on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and pursue a career in Indian education. My dream came to fruition in 1996 when I was hired as a high school English teacher at Crazy Horse School in Wanblee, South Dakota. Family and friends thought I was insane when I revealed that I would be moving to South Dakota. Why in the world would I leave New York and go to South Dakota? It was a huge risk financially, professionally, and personally. I didn’t know a soul there. It was a different culture, different lifestyle, different language, different climate, different everything. I remember moving there—by myself—and after a day, I called my mother collect on the only pay phone in town and bawled my eyes out. I ended up spending thirteen years spread out over three different reservations: Pine Ridge in South Dakota, Spirit Lake in North Dakota, and Navajo in Arizona. With each move, I took the same risks as the first time with striking out on my own and encountering different cultures, languages, and so on. I wouldn’t change a thing even if I could. The risk was worth taking.
Recently, I took another huge risk by buying a business that had, by all intents and purposes, died. After resigning from a job, I volunteered to work at a local quilt shop to keep busy and engaged. The shop was up for sale, and the employees kept giving me encouragement to buy the business. I did. I knew that the business had died, but I took the risk and the challenge to bring it back to life and to the potential of what it could be. I did. But then COVID hit just six months later. The shop survived COVID, but I have been struggling ever since with the post COVID challenges. Fortunately, the shop is on the road to recovery and to being the business it was before COVID. The shop is beginning to realize its potential.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Ever since I was a child, I had two dreams–one was to be a teacher and the other was to own my own craft store. I am an example of the dominance of nature in the nature or nurture debate. I grew up in an environment devoid of the arts. Somehow I emerged from the womb with a creative spirit and talent. I didn’t have any role models at home. My grandmother crocheted and knitted and taught me the basics of both, but I had an innate desire to create in many other ways and using many other mediums. My mother did what she could to provide me with opportunities for and explorations in different art forms by enrolling me in community center classes during the summer. She would take me to local craft stores and let me wander for long periods of time picking out supplies and getting inspiration.
I am primarily self taught and self motivated. I loved doing all needlearts, including cross stitch, embroidery, needlepoint, knitting, crocheting, sewing (first by hand and later by machine), and beadwork. I eventually narrowed down my interests and concentrated most of my time on beadwork and sewing (with a long stint with knitting). I am an award-winning bead artist. My favorite forms of beadwork are bead embroidery and loom work. Much of my work is heavily influenced by the native cultures I lived among during my career in education. My primary work now, being the owner of a quilt shop, is sewing quilts and exploring the many avenues and artforms in quilting.
Over the past few years, the shop has been involved in several humanitarian projects. I believe that every business, big or small, must use their business to support and elevate others. I started a project called Bags of Love prior to the COVID shutdown. Volunteers came to the shop to make pillowcases (the bags) and small items to put in the bags such as stuffed animals, soft books, blankets, pillows, etc. I delivered the bags to our county’s Department of Health and Human Services for distribution to children who are taken from their homes. During the shutdown, ladies from the shop made hundreds of masks to deliver to individuals and businesses around town and to the Navajo Nation. Just this past week, I delivered 20 quilts for the Ukrainian families that are being relocated to Grand Junction. I believe that all businesses have to do something outside of themselves and for the betterment of others.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The Grand Valley of Colorado is a well-kept secret that is beginning to be unveiled. The area has so much to do and experience. A must on the itinerary has to be a day trip to the area’s wineries. Dozens of independent wineries exist in and around Palisade. Each winery has its own experience and its own take on its wine offerings. If you haven’t experienced Colorado wines, you are missing out. While in Palisade, we might as well also hit the fruit stands. Palisade is well-known for its peaches, which are among the best in the nation. Our last stop in Palisade would be the lavender farms. Traveling Palisade’s Barn Quilt Trail is a must too, and it will bring you to many of these wineries, fruit stands, and lavender farms.
Grand Junction has a wealth of mom and pop restaurants that are local favorites. The Dream Café is a must for breakfast. We’d have to get there early, though, because there is usually a long line to get in. We can have lunch on the downtown mall at such places as Pablo’s Pizza, The Goat and Clover Tavern, or Main Street Café. Grand Junction’s downtown mall is full of fun shops, many of which are arts related. We would have to make time on the itinerary for a visit to one of the pottery shops to make or decorate our own pottery, time to relax with a glass of wine and paint a picture at The Palette, and let our creativity go wild at Funky Junk.
The next day, we’d have to work off all that great food by heading slightly west to Fruita, where there are biking and hiking trails, water sports, a great rec center, driving tours of the Colorado National Monument, or Grand Junction’s River Walk. Touring the Dinosaur Museum is also a must. Colorado is well-known for being a hot spot of those ancient creatures and those artifacts can be seen and experienced at this interactive museum.
We would end the trip at Grand Junction’s best quilt shop–Owl’s Nest Quilters. We would enjoy roaming the shop and looking at over 4,000 bolts of fabric. The shop is full of samples to spark interest and creativity. From Thursday-Saturday there is always a class going on, and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays you can participate in the open sew. Something is always going on in this active, dynamic shop.
Exhausted and full, we’d spend our last day getting pampered at one of the dozens of day spas in the area.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to give a shoutout to one of the employees at the quilt shop who encouraged me most. I was lamenting to April that I wouldn’t be able to make the shop work if we continued to have days with such low revenues. She turned to me and said that I needed to look toward the shop’s potential and that I could make the shop reach that potential. It was her words of encouragement that gave me the strength and drive to continue with the purchasing of the shop.
April later resigned from the shop to pursue an opportunity that I couldn’t provide her, but I am forever indebted to her for her encouragement and vision.