SUPPORT LOCAL: How this ovarian cancer-survivor turned her T-shirt quilt-making hobby into a business

Monica Weibust, founder and owner of T-shirt Memory Quilts. (KPRC)

HOUSTON – If you’re looking to support a local business, you should get to know T-Shirt Memory Quilts and its founder Monica Weibust.

Monica’s journey to becoming a small business owner began in 2002 when one of her neighbors asked her if there was something she could make out of his old college fraternity T-shirts. That’s when she suggested making him a T-shirt quilt.

“He liked it so much that his wife and several of his fraternity brothers gave me their shirts too,” Weibust told KPRC 2.

She realized then that there could be a market for T-shirt quilts so she decided to turn her hobby into a business and that’s how T-Shirt Memory Quilts was born.

Without a business degree or any business training, Weibust learned all aspects of operating a business while making and selling her one-of-a-kind quilts.

“Deciding to purchase a quilt machine was scary and risky but it turned out to be the best decision for growing the business,” Weibust said. “Also, getting a brick and mortar was vital in taking the next step in growing the business.”

After working from home for 16 years, Weibust was able to rent her first storefront in 2018.

However, last November, an unthinkable obstacle would present itself... a diagnosis of stage one ovarian cancer would throw a speed bump into running her shop.

“I was determined to not lose my business, and with help from many friends and family members, TMQ survived while I went through chemotherapy treatments,” Weibust said.

Her last treatment was on March 24, which is when “stay home” orders had just been implemented in Harris County due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Not long after, on April 28, Weibust received the best news of all... She was cancer-free.

“At that time, I was not sure that TMQ would make it through the pandemic but I won the battle against cancer which gave me the strength and motivation to do everything I could to save the business,” she said.

COVID-19 has caused several issues for the shop, including very few new orders and the need to limit the number of people working at the shop to one at a time, which drastically slowed down production.

In May and June, new orders came pouring in as people cleaned out their closets and garages and gathered all their shirts together, looking for something to do with them.

At the moment, due to mass mask making, many of the supplies used at the shop — specifically stabilizer and fabric —to make the quilts are in very high demand and low supply.

Weibust said production has also slowed down considerably as a result, but they get what they can when they can and at a higher price than normal.

“We would like people to consider all kinds of occasions to have a T-shirt quilt made...graduations, retirement, family reunions, holidays, sports teams, vacations, bereavement,” Weisbust said. “T-shirt quilts preserve memories, provide warmth and comfort and each one is a piece of custom made art.”

The shop is also interested in supporting local charities by donating quilts and gift certificates, she said.

T-Shirt Memory Quilts is located at 18741 Stuebner Airline Road in Spring. The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment on Saturdays.

For more information, call (281) 610-3666.

Raising awareness

With the help of some very close friends and family, Weibust created the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Initiative — a non-profit to raise awareness and educate women about ovarian cancer — following her cancer-free news.

“Early detection is key in saving women’s lives from this deadly disease...85 out of 100 ovarian cancer diagnoses are stage 2 and higher.,” Weibust said. “I am one of the lucky 15% who was diagnosed at stage 1.”

Business shout out

Weibust said she wanted to share the spotlight with another woman-owned business that’s also struggling due to COVID-19 and whom she shares the building with.

Absolute All Sports, owned by Brandy Butlers, sells trophies and promotional products, screenprints shirts and embroiders all kinds of apparel and other items.

“She and I are fighting and working hard to save our businesses,” Weibust said. “We have a great working relationship and they do all the custom embroidery on my quilts.”

Absolute All Sports and T-shirt Memory Quilts are two woman-owned businesses in Spring. (KPRC)

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