In this deeply personal interview, I talk with Kristen Edens, the talented quilt artist and founding owner of Edens Heirlooms. We talk about the difficult twists and turns of her earlier careers—and the month-long travel sabbatical that changed her life and launched her creative business. We also dive into the unique ways she works with clients to create one-of-a-kind quilts; quilting as a contemporary artform; and her passion for history and genealogy as driving forces. In the process, Kristen shares her wisdom for anyone who would love to follow a passion or dream, and her delightful ambitions for the next five years.
You’re only one <play> button away from this powerful, uplifting interview. Go on, you’ve got this!
For two full seasons, Kristen Edens had a standing invitation to join me for Tiny Sparks, Big Flames—alas, to no avail. We first met in 2018 and bonded over our mutual love of writing and storytelling. Kristen had heard from a friend that I was toying with the idea of a digital magazine. Amazingly, she reached out, and we met face-to-face at one of my favorite Starbucks. There, we sketched out an idea for a light-hearted, online magazine called Boomalally, whose mission would be to celebrate the stories of people over 50 who were “marching to the beat of their own drums.” Then, off we went, gathering and editing stories and building a beautiful website that would serve as our platform—and our joint labor of love.
Fast forward four years and close to three seasons of TSBF, and the talented Kristen Edens said, “Yes!”
During this touching interview, Kristen and I cover a wide range of subjects, including the persistent challenges and obstacles she faced during her first two careers, the transformative travel sabbatical that rocked her world, and the passion for stitching that she’s had since the age of six which would become the foundation for a successful creative business. With openness and generosity of spirit, she shares the secrets behind her success—from the distinctive ways she works with clients to create a unique vision for their custom quilts; “celebrates family, honors tradition, and preserves memories” in the form of contemporary quilt art; and honors history and genealogy in the process.
You will love hearing the excitement in her voice as she shares stories about two of her most recent creations and the remarkable ways that fabrics, photos, and mementos speak to her as she designs and stitches these wonderful creations. You’ll also enjoy learning about her love of yellow M&Ms, her average perfect day, and her dreams for the next five years.
- She is adopted, located her birth parents at age 19, and has enjoyed getting to know her extended family and siblings. She’s the oldest of 13!
- She has traveled to Canada, Mexico, Britain, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Russia, and has a tour of Peru scheduled in October 2023.
- She owns four bicycles: a racing bike, a touring bicycle, a mountain bicycle, and a tandem bicycle. Additionally, she has competed in 3 triathlons, finishing in the top 10% for her age group. (She is not fond of running.)
- With herbalism and ancient remedies as a favorite pastime, she enjoys growing herbs and experimenting with tinctures, balms, infusions, teas, and more.
- If born 100 (or so) years earlier, she would have been one of the pioneers to cross the prairies to Oregon.
Edens Heirlooms’ Website
National Park Service – Starting point for Kristen’s annual travel sabbaticals
The International Quilt Museum
Legends of the Old West – Kristen’s favorite podcast
The Quilt Show – For artistic inspiration
Simon’s Cat Extra – For a daily laugh
Quotes by Kristen
“…courage comes when you’re fed up sometimes. You’ve played the game. You’ve played life. You’ve done what you’ve been told for so long, and it’s not working.… What’s the norm, what’s the status quo, or what’s expected does not necessarily work for everybody else.”
“What I bring to customers is a vision that perhaps they can’t quite see…. I take their vision, I take their notes, I take their tidbits—the photos, the mementos that they give me—and let them speak to me.”
“Quilts are just viewed as blankets: Something to store in a chest or a closet when it’s summer and then you pull it out again in the winter. Or you take it to the beach—heaven forbid, don’t anybody listening take their quilts to the beach. So they don’t realize that it’s an expression, that it shares history, that it’s something that can be cherished and preserved in fabric art.”
“You’re going to have a lot of naysayers—and let them naysay.”