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Jess Rediske of Red-Roxy Quilt Co.

By Aryn Hening Nichols | Winter 2023-24 Inspire(d)

The new Red-Roxy space on Short Street in Decorah has easier parking and accessibility, plus large windows and ample space for lots of fabric and quilts. / Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

The stars were aligned when Jess Rediske founded Red-Roxy Quilt Co. with her mom, Roxanne Schnitzler, in 2012. From an off-the-cuff horoscope promising an upcoming business venture to a serendipitous email saying the previous local quilt shop was planning to sell, the time felt just right to launch this new venture. Plus, crafting is a life-long love for both. During their first nine years of business in their Downtown Decorah location, the daughter-and-mother duo shared that passion on the daily, building Red-Roxy up to triple its original size, with everything from fabric to tools to classes and more. 

“We try to carry a nice mix of everything quilting and sewing related,” Jess says. “A variety of styles and designs of quilting cottons, flannel, minky/cuddle, etc. Notions, rulers, scissors, and quilting trinkets, if you will. And a full line of BERNINA and Bernette quilting, sewing, and machine embroidery machines. We also offer a calendar chock-full of classes, with a mix of machine owner mastery classes, project-based classes, classes on clothing alterations, and of course beginning quilting.”

All this growth led to some big changes. Roxie was ready to retire early 2022, so Jess bought out her half, and not long after, a larger, better-situated space came up for sale. Jess and her husband took another leap and moved Red-Roxy to its new location on Short Street in Decorah, opening the new doors in February of 2023. 

Jess Rediske and her husband, Eric. / Photo courtesy Jess Rediske

The gorgeous space is light and airy and encourages folks to linger (the fully stocked beverage station and coffee bar doesn’t hurt either). Customers coming in for that “one piece of fabric” will likely leave with a handful of other fun things as well. Luckily, winter is the perfect time to snuggle in with a project – something Jess enjoys herself.

“My mom has passed on her love of machine embroidery to me, so I enjoy making (and gifting) in-the-hoop projects,” Jess says. “I also cherish our long weekend quilt retreats with my two best friends. I mean sewing, laughing, cocktails, and girl time? What beats that?!?!”

Jess and her husband offer a space perfect for just such a retreat. In addition to Red-Roxy Quilt Co, the Rediske’s own Red’s Retreat & Guesthouse, a retreat house/Airbnb rental located near Downtown Decorah. For quilters, there’s a 1,100-square-foot space that comfortably fits up to 13 quilters on individual tables. 

Jess has advice for people just getting started in the quilting and sewing craft-arena as well: “Find a beginner class or hook up with a friend who knows how to sew / quilt and start there,” Jess says. “And remember, nothing is ever perfect. I’m team done-is-better-than-perfect. Find things that you enjoy doing and find the time to do it. Creating by sewing and quilting is a form of therapy and is so good for the soul. Start small. There’s satisfaction to quick, easy projects that don’t take a ton of time!”

The Basics:
Name: Jessica (Jess) Rediske
Age: 42
Business: Red-Roxy Quilt Co
Year Business Established: 2012
Business address: 804 Short St, Decorah

Red-Roxy carries a full line of BERNINA and Bernette quilting, sewing, and machine embroidery machines. / Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

Tell us about the “leap” moment. When/how did you decide to jump in and become your own boss?

In the fall of 2012, Roxie, my mom and previous business partner – now retired – was on medical leave from her job as the Assistant Jail administrator for Winneshiek County. One fateful day she was sitting in the chair at the salon and the girls were reading their horoscopes. Roxie, not being very superstitious, said sure, read hers. “A business venture will be heading your way soon.” That night when she got home, the first email in her inbox was from Pine Needles saying they were putting the Decorah store up for sale. She excitedly called me right away, as she’s always dreamed of owning a “fabric store.” I was sitting at a high school volleyball game and said, “Let’s check it out!” 

On December 31, 2012, Roxie and I signed on the dotted line and Red-Roxy Quilt Co was formed. Red, for my last name Rediske, and of course Roxy is for Roxie. For the next nine years, we worked in tandem to more than triple the size of Red-Roxy. Roxie was our creative genius, and I, having worked at a local bank in the lending department for eight years, focused on the business-end as well as being the technician for sewing machine maintenance and repair. On January 1, 2022, Roxie semi-retired and I bought out her half. Roxie still teaches and is found working a few days a week. Later that year, the opportunity came up for my husband Eric and I to purchase a new location for the shop and we jumped at it. On February 16, 2023, Red-Roxy Quilt Co. opened its doors at our new location. It has easier accessibility and parking, about 500 additional square feet, tons of natural light, with high ceilings to display quilts in full, and a beautiful, dedicated classroom space for teaching not only in-person but virtually as well. 

Learn more about all the shop has to offer at / Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

What’s the best thing about being your own boss?

I love the flexibility being an owner gives. Not that I get to come and go as I please, but I can work longer hours some days to be able to take other days off as I see fit. It’s also so rewarding to look back and see where we have come from to where we are now as a business.

How about the worst?

Waking up at any and all hours of the night with business things on my mind!

Was there ever a hurdle where you just thought, “I can’t do this?” How did you overcome it?

Oh gosh I think there probably has been many over the years but having a good work ethic and surrounding myself with good staff and my “circle” to help talk me through things and off ledges has been huge! And the quickest way to get things done is to just do it!

Any mentors/role models you look to/have looked to?

I’m blessed to have the former Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce director Kristina Wiltgen as not only my best friend but now my marketing guru. Remember that ledge I need talking off occasionally? She’s brilliant with great ideas that I respect in many different aspects of my retail business and in life.

What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started?

Mom and I seriously jumped in blind. I would have never thought how much behind-the-scenes work there is to owning a retail business. I kinda thought we’d just get to help the customers pick out beautiful fabric or find the perfect sewing machine. Little did I know there would be inventory management, accounts payable, bookkeeping, ordering, sales tax, marketing, etc. that would also need to get done! I pretty much spend my days behind a computer. Getting to help customers is always a bright spot in my day.

The Red-Roxy classroom is situated along the back wall of the new space, with ample room for students and machines, and a set-up for virtual classes as well. / Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

How do you manage your life/work balance?

I like to say work hard, play harder. It’s all about time management and allowing myself to take the personal time I need away from the business. Scheduling days to work from home has been a good way to help keep the balance. I also believe putting your own personal health and wellness as a priority trickles down to everything else you do in life. Eating well, physical activity, fresh air, and the occasional cocktail or glass of wine are my keys!

What keeps you inspired? Any quotes that keep you going?

We are fortunate to have a BERNINA sewing machine convention on an annual basis, as well as a quilt market once a year that provides lots of inspiration and continuing education. Also forging strong relationships with our vendors that I can lean on for ideas and support when I need. Mom embroidered me a sign early on in our venture: Put on your big girl panties & deal with it. I’m a firm believer that I can’t make employees do things that I wouldn’t do.