Teaching quilting from the high seas, surviving two cyclones
FROM OWNING two shops in Rockhampton's William St, Margaret Olive now teaches quilting on cruise ships.
Ms Olive is featured this week for The Morning Bulletin's Women of William feature, showcasing the variety of women in business in the busy street.
Ms Olive's journey in the street began in 1999 when she opened Accessories for Weddings, which was located where Pivot Health and Fitness now is.
When she was looking for somewhere for the shop, she wanted somewhere that wasn't in the CBD.
"I don't know what drew me to William St, I have always liked it but I can't put a finger on it,” she said.
This then closed in 2004 and in 2006, her friend Kathleen mentioned she was closing her patchwork and quilting business.
Having just started sewing classes herself, Ms Olive thought why not own a patchwork shop and so she bought it, renaming it Patchwork Paradise.
"Before I knew I owned it and it has been a steep learning curve ever since,” she said.
In 2009, the shop next door, 126 William St, became available and she bought the space, knocking out the wall in between and expanding the sewing shop.
In those days, the street had all sorts of different businesses from The Melbourne Fish Bar, Restoration House, Professional Real Estate, McCourt Accounting, Dr Agar-Wilson, Tracy Hardy Photography, a wedding dress shop, The Little Olive Café and Camp Quality. Campco was also across the road and there was Fairways Motorbikes, Dunnings Motors and down the road was Horseland.
"It was a different vibe, it wasn't an old persons or young persons place, it was just everyone's,” Ms Olive said.
They even had Christmas parties for a few years and they would shut the street, put on rides and Ms Olive would keep her shop open until 9pm.
While running the patchwork business, Ms Olive also became an accredited teacher and started teaching classes and doing workshop.
As her teaching began to take over, she made the decision to close the stores full-time, staying open for her classes and via appointments.
"It's been an experiment, hard to get people used to it, but hairdressers do it,” she said.
"I was getting more and more work teaching and cost of employing staff to what I was making wasn't worth it.”
But she has really grown to love teaching.
"Seeing someone start with a project that has no idea, and then at the end of it they have finished and say "I made that”, Ms Olive said.
"It is really precision sewing, what they are making is very crisp and clean looking.
"What I teach is like painting by numbers but sewing by number, you get told what to put on each section.”
Getting into teaching was purely something that happened by accident.
She was pushed by a co-worker to do a course for Quiltworx Foundation Paper Piecing, and while she didn't want to, she did it anyway - but surprisingly, she found she really enjoyed it.
"I just went berserk, I was a day behind and then by the time I was finished I was ahead of everyone,” Ms Olive said.
"I loved it, I sewed my little heart out.”
Ms Olive is one of nine accredited teachers in Australia within the company she teaches with, meaning she is highly sought after.
She expanded into hosting international touring and workshops in Ilfracombe and Blackall.
Last year she had an unforgettable experience, teaching on a cruise ship to New Zealand.
It was quite the trip as the ship was caught in two cyclones and they were faced with seven metre waves.
"We were really rocking, you're talking to people and leaning over their work, as soon as you move your head straight, it's not good,” Ms Olive said.
"On the days in port it was good and close to New Zealand it was not a problem, nice and smooth.”
This weekend, Ms Olive sets off another trip, from Sydney to Airlie for eight days.
Ironically she will fly to Sydney from Rockhampton and pass Yeppoon on day three.
She has 45 ladies booked in for the cruise and is anticipating a much smoother ride than last years.