Sew good: Gunbarrel’s eQuilter shares its success
October 26, 2018
A rainbow has many symbolic meanings attached to it—one of the most common is that of prosperity and good luck—which makes it a fitting symbol for the eQuilter logo that now sits atop the company’s brand-new location on Spine Road in Gunbarrel.
Luana and Paul Rubin started their online quilting supply business, eQuilter, in their basement in 1999. Within 60 days, they had exceeded their three-year business plan, and had to find a bigger space to rent. Now as eQuilter moves toward its 20th anniversary in business, the Rubins have moved their Gunbarrel business into their very own building that they designed and built from the dirt up. And along the way to being one of the largest and most successful online quilting suppliers in the world, they’ve also managed to raise $1.5 million for charitable causes.
“We’re really a Gunbarrel story,” said Luana Rubin. “We started in the basement in our house next to Celestial Seasonings. We’ve always run the business out of Gunbarrel, and we’ve lived here 24 years.”
Whereas many companies with a charitable arm donate a percentage of profits, eQuilter donates two percent of every sale to charitable causes. Each online customer is allowed to designate where their donation will go from a group of selected charities posted on eQuilter’s website.
“Customers can donate to organizations like Doctors Without Borders, Mission of Love Disaster Relief and the Ocean Conservancy. And locally, we donate to education, arts and music programs—a lot to public school music programs. And of course, the Boulder Philharmonic.”
And just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness month, eQuilter hit a $300,000 milestone of breast cancer research donations.
eQuilter is truly a family-run business. Paul, who was a website designer before starting eQuilter with his wife, takes care of all the website and technical aspects of their business, including the design and oversight of their new building; while Luana does all the buying, traveling to speak about color trends, and public appearances.
“I’m more the face of the company, and Paul is more the real Oz behind the curtain,” Luana said. “I’m so lucky to have him as my business partner. We wouldn’t be where we are without his work.”
eQuilter employs 25 people, and is looking forward to helping the growing Gunbarrel business economy.
“We’ve built a 2,000 square-foot classroom, and we host both national and internationally well-known quilting and fabric arts teachers,” Luana said. “Right now, we’re negotiating with some very famous quilting teachers.” She added that they have a corporate rate at the nearby Hampton Inn because they have many students and teachers coming from out of state. “It’s good for Gunbarrel. There are so many places to eat and drink right here, and we hope we can help support the other local businesses.”
Luana’s degree in fashion design took her all over the world, from Los Angeles to New York City to Asia. After leaving the fabric design industry, however, she began to miss it. She then discovered the quilt industry, and shortly after, eQuilter became one of the first businesses in the world to sell fabric over the internet.
Luana is also a chairholder in the Color Marketing Group, an international association of color design professionals who help forecast color trends. She frequently travels to speak on color trends and design.
The Rubins’ charity involvement moves beyond just financial donations. eQuilter hosts a charity sewing group that meets once a month, creating and then distributing quilts to those in need with the help of the organizations Mission of Love, and Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA), which was started by University of Colorado Boulder professor Bernard Amadei.
Past recipients include hurricane and flood victims worldwide, medical patients, orphans and victims of 9/11. Colorado flood and fire victims have received hundreds of quilts sewn and donated by the group, and some quilts were hand-carried by the CU chapter of EWB-USA up into the mountains of Nepal to be given to mothers who had just given birth.
“We’ve been very lucky,” said Luana, “and we want to share those blessings.”
To learn more about the Rubins’ charitable outreach, visit http://www.equilter.com.