A Visit with Martha Pullen

Phyllis People 13 Comments

I met Martha Pullen more than 25 years ago when she was at the helm of Sew Beautiful magazine and the Martha Pullen Company. Martha is a dear friend, and this year she has written her second book on business, G. R. A. C. E. I was thrilled to receive my copy. I have always said, there is a book in everyone—a story waiting to get out. I wanted to share her story with you. Many of you have had thoughts of starting a business, and she certainly is the icon for turning a hobby into a business. You will enjoy her story behind her latest book. Thank you Martha for sharing your words with us and for encouraging the hidden entrepreneur in all of us! PLUS, Martha is giving away two signed copies of the book to lucky winners.

Martha Pullen: Every book has a backstory. This one is no exception. Why did I write G.R.A.C.E. Keys to Entrepreneurship? During the years I taught high school English, one of my lessons in literature classes was to teach students why authors write books. After discovering the author’s purpose I felt it was easier for them to evaluate the content of the book. I recalled my “English teacher theory” that books are written to inform or explain, persuade, entertain, or describe. I truly feel that G.R.A.C.E. does all of these things. Possibly that explains why it is 400 pages long! This business is and always has been my ministry; it was important, at this stage of my life, to be absolutely sure I shared that God is the reason I have a business.

Back Cover

Almost from the very beginning of Martha Pullen Company people came to me asking me to help them start a sewing business. I had many a caller who said over the phone, “Martha how do you open a smocking shop?” Others said, “Martha I have a sewing business, and I want to add heirloom sewing. How do I do it?” Those questions could hardly be answered on the telephone. One and a half years after starting my company I developed an event in Huntsville, Alabama, to teach heirloom sewing and more importantly teach how to have a business with heirloom sewing. We had a full house—mostly sewing machine dealers and fabric store owners from all over the country and Australia.

I started traveling all over the world teaching heirloom sewing events. Everywhere I went people wanted me to teach them how to have a home-based business earning money with their sewing. I actually wrote my first business book, You Can Make Money from Your Hobby, with a co-author in 1999. It was published by the great Christian company Broadman and Holman, now Lifeway, in Nashville. After selling 10,000 copies, it was no longer in print. For more than 10 years people asked me for the book, but there were no more books. They then asked me to write another one. I felt somewhat paralyzed. Business had changed so much since 1991. With the advent of social media, online catalogues, e-mail newsletters, e-mail advertising, networking on the Internet and all of the “.com,” I realized that we at Martha Pullen Company were doing all of this but I had no clue how to write about it.

The basics of business, which I had used from the beginning, never change—period. Creativity, politeness, joy, new products, many trips to meet people in person, new events, salesmanship, real friendship with one’s customers, God’s gifts to me, God’s owning my business and getting the credit, and basic principles of planning and building my business—nothing had changed about any of this. With modern technology and the Internet, many of the methods of delivering these “things” had changed and had changed a lot.

I told myself, “Martha, writing another entrepreneurship book should be easy. Just tell your readers what you did in starting and growing Martha Pullen Company and the mistakes you made that you hope they will not make. Since your business has always been your ministry, tell them about the miracles God has given you, about the “Red Seas” he has opened when you saw no way to go on. Since you want to give God the credit, find many of your favorite scriptures that you have hung onto and claimed during these 30-plus years of business. Insert them in the book.”

Another main reason for my writing this book is that I made almost no money for the first 10 years I was in business. The main reason is that I had no written plan. After I got help and turned the business around I was determined to share the “good basics” with other people so they might have a chance of being successful from the beginning. This book shares my failures as well as my successes. I truly believe it is a roadmap for other people wanting to start a business to use as a major tool in business planning. There are hundreds of ways to be successful starting a business, and I certainly have not cornered the market on common sense. I mention that because I want to deliver courage to those who are still undecided or hesitating at the cusp of a big decision and let them know that while there are lots of details that they just master and lots of specifics to always keep in mind, there are always some fundamentals they can follow.

The planning chapter of G.R.A.C.E. is the most important place to start. A written plan is beyond critical before even thinking about opening doors. No matter what kind of “doors” those are. This book is for everyone who is ready to take those first steps but feels as though he/she needs guidance. I cannot help you to see exactly what is ahead, of course, but I can at least help you begin to prepare for the challenges ahead. When you decide to start a business, you are making a choice to attempt to transform a part of your life into something better. For me, my life has been much better as a business owner. It has not been easy. My dream is to help others, through this book and seminars, avoid many of the mistakes I made. My dream is to have tools to use to make planning and selling easier.

I believe the most powerful way to build a business is through G.R.A.C.E.: G=God, R=Resilience, A=Action, C=Creativity, and E=Enthusiasm, Some call business a “rat race.” Well I say put a G in front of race and you get G.R.A.C.E. You can get more information on Martha’s book at her website

Want to win one of two signed copies of Martha’s book? Enter below!

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Comments 13

  1. Thank you, Phyllis, for featuring Martha Pullen and her new book G.R.A.C.E. This was just the push of encouragement I needed today. Friends and family have long been after me to sell my artwork. I do pen and ink sketch with watercolor overlay. I’m right in the midst of all the business details, and gearing up to have cards and framed prints ready for sale in January. Some days the work is overwhelming, but exciting too. Thanks again for sharing encouraging words and inspiring me to reach for my dreams.

  2. Another wonderful post, Phyllis and I don’t even sew. I have, however, been in business and I am sure I’d love her book even tho’ I no longer work. There is always someone to encourage and help who want to be in business. I think being able to point out her book to them would be awesome as it does have a testimony too. Wonderful! I can see why the two of you are friends. Much happiness and success to you both. God bless, Ruth Johnson

  3. I have admired Martha for years, not only her Sew Beautiful magazine, but her Christian testimony. Reading her letter in the front of each magazine was my favorite part. She has been an inspiration to me to make God the center of any business I might start. Having just started a business, I am excited to read her new book!

  4. My youngest daughter used to attend yearly sewing seminars in her area and one year she partook a class in Heirloom Sewing and fell in love with this methold of sewing. She made an Heirloom Baptismal gown for her family. The older children were baptized in an heirloon gown about 100 years old which had to come from Holland for each family baptism so she decided it was time to have her own ‘family baptismal heirloom’. She now has eight almost grown children and she has always been glad she tood the Heirloom sewing class. Her eldest is now 37 and youngest is 15.
    I can see why the ladies loved your book and will love your new one. Nothing happens without ‘grace’ from God.

    With a grateful heart,

  5. I can’t even tell you how much I LOVE Miss Martha! 🙂
    I found Sew Beautiful years ago when I was a very young mommy, shortly after I discovered my love of sewing for my own (then others’!) babies, and I have adored her ever since. Her wisdom and beauty of spirit carries beyond her business and hobbies and into everyday life. I think the most amazing thing about her is how she manages to make every reader feel like a treasured friend. Her words always make me smile – I can’t wait to read this book! <3

  6. Love, love, love Miss Martha! I’m going to have to get this book. I’ve had my shop for ten years now, and I totally understand about not making any money. We’re at a point where we need to decide whether to continue on or to close. Making that decision has been so hard because I love my ladies and have enjoyed enabling them to create beautiful projects. Maybe “G.R.A.C.E.” will have some advice that will help.

  7. I am so going to get this book!
    many, many people, tell me I should make my little girls dresses etc and sell them, but I am not brave enough to do so although I would love to sew for other little girls other than my granddaughter.

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