When C&T Publishing was launched in 1983, cofounder Carolie Hensley and her husband, Tom, were bookstore owners who wanted to help quilter Roberta Horton publish a book about Amish quilting. “It became our first book and stayed in print for more than 30 years,” says C&T publisher Amy Barrett-Daffin, who joined the imprint more than two decades ago. “And that is how C&T Publishing was born.”

The couple expected to put out a few books on quilting. There was a lack of imprints that published quilting titles and Hensley would often say, “Find a need and fill it.” Fast forward to today, and the company has grown to become the preeminent publisher of quilting patterns and techniques. C&T has expanded to publish fiction and recently branched out into online classes, cosplay titles, and children's books. Today, the company publishes more than 45 books and 15 products annually across its seven imprints.

This growth stemmed from C&T’s early focus on building a reputation as an author-friendly imprint that quilters would tell their friends about. This included working with notable authors such as Judy Mathison and Ruth McDowell. “We worked hard to have as many of the top 88 quilters around the world as authors,” explains Barrett-Daffin. “We did this by building relationships at shows and events, offering a very favorable royalty structure, and allowing the word of mouth of our authors’ experiences to do the work.” The Hensleyes sold the company in 1990 to Todd and Tony Hensley, who started ramping up production from six to 12 titles per year. “We grew C&T into an industry leader by treating people with respect and fairness,” says Barrett-Daffin, “and by offering an opportunity to collaborate when developing our books.”

In 1995, C&T created a gift line including stationery and gift wrap, which has since grown to 1,200 ancillary products that generate 28% of the company’s revenue, and Stash Books, the most successful imprint to date, has brought in more than $20 million since its inception in 2010. Shortly afterward, C&T’s crafting imprint for kids, FunStitch Studio, was launched in 2013. “For the children's imprint, we wanted to create useful and beautiful books that would inspire a new generation of crafters,” says Barrett-Daffin. “We wanted them to learn to love fabric and thread at a young age so that they would be inspired to continue sewing as they grew up.”

Perhaps the biggest acquisition—or maybe just the riskiest—was two years ago when the company acquired Ann Hazelwood titles from the American Quilter’s Society in 2020, branching headlong into quilter fiction.

“For fiction, we were looking for self-publishers who only sold e-books and who might be interested in having their books in print. We found Carol Dean Jones in 2017. She was publishing only on Amazon and was interested in having us take over her titles,” says Barrett-Daffin. “We did, and now have 12 of her titles in print. And then in 2020, we acquired Ann Hazelwood's titles. There were three completed series that we took over, and then we published Hazelwood’s Door County Quilt series, which currently has five titles.”

C&T’s latest endeavor has been launching FanPowered Press, which aims to deliver crafting ideas to the cosplay community. “We were looking for a new topic and we had an employee who is a passionate cosplayer, mostly princesses and she-warriors, and she helped us
through the due diligence process,” Barrett-Daffin says. “We were surprised to see that it was such a delightful and underserved market.”

When Covid-19 hit, some authors were seeing up to a 90% drop in income. “We saw a partial solution to their problem by launching the Creative Spark Online Learning platform,” Barrett-Daffin says. The platform grew from eight instructors with 15 courses to 24 instructors and more than 50 courses over a five-month period.

Looking back at four decades, C&T isn’t content to rest on its laurels. By adding new categories and authors, the company is building a bright future, one book and one reader at a time. A future that Barrett-Daffin says remains unwritten: “Only time will tell.”