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Local Entrepreneurship Student Celebrates Five Months In Business In Downtown Los Alamos

on February 4, 2016 - 8:09am
Atomic City Quilts owner Shelly Kuropatwinski in her shop at 247 Central Ave., Suite C. Courtesy photo
By Mandy Marksteiner
Shelly Kuropatwinski, owner of Atomic City Quilts, has been a business owner for five months. Her life as an entrepreneur began a year ago, when she took Nik Seet’s Intro to Entrepreneurship course at UNM-LA.
For the past several years, she has been dreaming of opening a quilt shop in Los Alamos; however, she never went for it because she had a job, a husband, four active kids, and felt like she needed to provide a reliable income for the family.
“When I started the class I thought, ‘Someday I’ll open a quilt shop … maybe,’” Kuropatwinski said.
But then she got laid off. Like millions of entrepreneurs, she took her job loss as a sign to get serious about her business idea.
“It was God telling me, ‘it’s time. Not ‘someday’, but now,’” Kuropatwinski said.
Once her mind was made up to start a business, everything began to fall into place. For one thing, Katie Brousseau, owner of Warm Hearts Yarn, heard that Kuropatwinski was thinking about starting a business and reached out to her with an email asking if she would like to share retail space in Los Alamos.
At first Kuropatwinski wasn’t ready to commit, not because she lacked the desire, but because she did not have a clear sense of direction. That is when Intro to Entrepreneurship came to the rescue.
The final assignment was to develop a detailed business plan. And during the course of developing the business plan, the desired dreams began to become a tangible reality.
“Writing the business plan got me going in the right direction. It focused my energy, and motivated me to just do it. I needed to have a plan in place before I was ready to say yes to Katie,” Kuropatwinski said.
Presenting her business plan in class gave her a chance to sell her business concept and according to Nik Seet, she did a great job making her case.
“I was not immediately convinced that quilting was a viable business,” Seet said, “but Shelly explained that there are LOTS of quilters in Los Alamos who spend a lot of money on supplies. But, without a local quilt shop they had to order supplies through the mail, which meant that they couldn’t see and feel the material before they bought it. Kuropatwinski also pointed out that quilting is relaxing, and benefits the soul and body. I was very impressed.”
Armed with her business plan, Kuropatwinski started looking for a space to share with Warm Hearts Yarn. They chose 1247 Central Ave., Suite C in downtown Los Alamos. Their neighbors include Boomerang, David’s Old Fashioned Barber Shop and the Los Alamos Daily Post world headquarters. The location gives them plenty of room to run both sides of their dual business. Warm Hearts Yarn is stocked with supplies for knitting, crocheting and scrapbooking and Atomic City Quilts has everything for sewing and quilting. Both businesses provide classes and lessons. 
They signed a lease April 26, and spent the summer preparing for their Sept. 1 grand opening. When she opened her doors, Kuropatwinski was delighted that Seet and several other students in Intro to Entrepreneurship came to support her, take pictures and see how everything was going.
“Being connected with the other students of Seet’s class let me know that there are a lot of people willing to helpIt’s not just you against the world,” Kuropatwinski said.
Now that she is about to celebrate the five-month anniversary of Atomic City Quilts, Kuropatwinski said that she recognizes the role Seet’s class played in getting her business off the ground.
“I’m enjoying it a lot,” Kuropatwinski said. “I love the quilt making and sharing a bit of my passion with the other quilters in town. They’re fantastic!”
Anyone who has been thinking about going into business is invited to join Intro to Entrepreneurship (business plan development) this spring. The class is noon to 4 p.m. Fridays, Feb. 26 to May 6 in Building 6, Room 625 at UNM-LA.
Many businesses make the mistake of not taking their business plan seriously, but then run into problems. During the class, students will spend time creating and presenting a business plan.
To enroll in Seet's class, UNM-LA students and non-students should register in person at UNM-LA Student Services, 4000 University Blvd., or call 505.662.0332. Space is limited, so register early.