Entrepreneur who started quilt shop 14 years ago with late partner now looking to grow franchise by expanding to Dallas
SOUTHLAKE — Leo Argueta still mends his own clothes and sews the quilting samples he dis- plays in his business by hand.
He discovered the joy of sewing after his grandfather taught him how to tailor when he was a child, and has cherished the skill ever since.
“That was when I was a kid and I never forgot,” he said.
Years later, Argueta met his late partner, who had also grown up with a needle and thread after his grandmother had taught him how to sew. The two bonded over a love of sewing, exchanging expertise on quilting and tailoring.
“He taught me how to quilt and I taught him how to tailor, and we just clicked,” he said.
In 1999, the couple turned their passion into profit by opening Quilter’s Stash in Hurst. The store specializes in designer fabrics, specialty sewing books, as well as classes in sewing, quilting and embroidery.
Argueta said that he and his partner also wanted to open a business that was more wholesome than the traditional gay-owned businesses like bars, so they decided to spread the love of quilting that was instilled in them as children to a new generation.
“I’ve always had a very entrepreneurial spirit,” Argueta said. “My late partner and I sewed and we both were very particular about perfection and we wanted to open a business that’s good for the community and is wholesome.”
When Argueta’s partner became ill several years ago, he said they discussed the store’s success in the hospital and what Argueta would do. His partner encouraged him to follow his dream of making the store a franchise. After his passing three years ago, he said he began to think about how to grow the business, deciding to open a Southlake location in 2011.
“I mourned and then decided I’d go for it and opened the second store,” Argueta said.
The Southlake store has become a success like the Hurst location. Argueta was even asked to make a presentation before the Southlake City Council last fall when word about his close-knit staff and quilting expertise began to spread. His speech was recorded and posted online, formally introducing him to the Southlake business community.
“They were interested in my business because they hadn’t had a quilt store in Southlake at all,” Argueta said. “They wanted to introduce me to the community and help me make a splash.”
City officials asked him to create a line of fabric for the city’s dragon mascot to display and use for Southlake school and city events. He said he’s been asked by companies to design fabric before, but is still working on the Southlake fabric, adding that he was just honored to be asked to give back to the community.
“Southlake is really proud of their town,” Argueta said.
With continued success of the two locations, Argueta is now planning to expand to Dallas. He’s been scouting locations and plans to have a place selected in about a year.
“They’re doing really well and I want to expand and open it up to franchise,” he said.
Even after more than a decade as owner, Argueta still prides himself on being hands-on with his business. He still sews all the samples he displays in his stores, and knows his regular customers not only by their names, but by the common things they are often looking for when they visit.
“The people that quilt, quilt for life,” he said. “We build a long-lasting relationship with customers that’s passed down for generations and keeps the quilting tradition going.”
While quilting is often passed from generation to generation, Argueta said the style of quilts is changing. He’s seen the patterns become more modern with edgier cuts, brighter colors and bolder prints.
The changes have made quilting more hip and appealing to youth, who often frequent his shops and classes as the face of quilting also changes.
“It’s evolving,” he said. “It’s an art like many arts that evolves into something new and exciting.”
Quilter’s Stash, 2125 W. Southlake Blvd. #325 in Southlake and 848 W. Pipeline Road in Hurst. QuiltersStashInc.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 23, 2013.