Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: On The Road Again….Illinois & The Fabric Cobbler

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a fabulous weekend.  It’s been a little while since the last time I got my butt out of my chair and hit the road to visit customers on sales calls.  Shame on me! I guess I have just gotten so bogged down with paper work or maybe I have just been lazy and avoiding the dread of travelling these days. The truth is that the office stuff is boring. There is nothing I love more than being out on the road selling, meeting customers and seeing all the different quilt shops out there. Needless to say, I am looking forward to this trip and whatever it might bring.  Stay tuned.

With that, I wanted to tell you what I have going on this week. Wednesday night I will be flying to Chicago.  Thursday and Friday I will be travelling with my local sales reps to about 3-4 shops.  I truly look forward to meeting some of her customers as I have not traveled to shops in Illinois in a long time.  And you know as well as I do that the shop owners can’t wait to meet this famous schmata salesman and blogger extraordinaire.  I mean, come on.  I think I am up to like 25 avid blog readers and I am ranked in the top one million blogs on Bloglovin.  Fame is all relative.  I digress.

Now the really exciting part.  Without going in to too much detail (feel free to read this story with more background about Scarlett “S”), several quilt markets ago I met this truly amazing quilt shop owner who also happens to be a vet. A vet who defended our United States Of America. Her name is Scarlett Wells and she owns the Fabric Cobbler in Forsythe, Illinois.  Since that day at market when we met, we have formed a lovely friendship and work relationship. So when Scarlett invited me to speak at a customer dinner that she was hosting, I of course had to oblige.  You know me, Scott the “yes man.”

The truth is that I am excited to speak at this event as it has been a little while since my last speaking engagement in North Carolina last year. When I partake in speaking engagements, I usually don’t like to give a long boring speech where everyone will fall asleep.  I prefer to give a little intro and then let the conversation develop based on audience member questions and participation.  So for all of you Fabric Cobbler fans attending the dinner, please make sure to bring your questions related to fabric, family businesses, selling, buying, marketing, social media, 4th generation and so on and so forth. Please don’t be shy because the better the questions, the better and more informative the night will be for each of you.  In other words, we are all in this together.

I can’t wait for Friday night and I sure hope that my glossophobia (fear of public speaking) doesn’t kick in.  Finally, for anyone else who might be interested in inviting me to speak at a fabric related event, make sure to send me an invite because there is a good chance that I will surprise you and actually say “yes.”  The good thing is that I usually come bearing gifts.

Public Speaking Scott

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Camp Visiting Day & Sibling Love

My Monday blog was so important (CHARITY) that I didn’t want to muddle it up with my camp visiting day report.  Many of you emailed me and wished me luck before I went (thanks!) and even emailed me after to see how it was (thanks again!), so I figured I would mix it up with a mid-week blog report.  

The truth is that there is so much to discuss about visiting day, but I don’t want to bore you with every single detail.  The day is an emotional roller coaster from the beginning to the bitter end for everyone to say the least. Let’s just leave it at this….it was a great day and Aaron is doing amazing. Happy Aaron equals happy parents.

Please allow me to show you some pictures of the most important thing about visiting day because this is truly what it is about.  Please enjoy!

Brothers A&B seeing each other for the first time in 3 weeks.
Big bro holding back the tears and little bro wailing. They were overjoyed to see each other.
Slowly changing from sadness to happiness.
And finally, we have this….brotherly love at its finest.

That is what it is all about folks…the love that 2 siblings have for one another.  During Father’s day, my Uncle Michael was saying that there is no more important relationship than that of 2 siblings and he was so right.

With all that being said, I would like to urge you to reach out to your sibling/s.  Pick up the phone.  Get in the car.  It’s never too late to get back in touch with a sibling because there is always a special place in their heart for you and one in your heart for them.  Life is too short folks. XXOO to my siblings, Jill & Greg.

Let me know how this works out for you!

Sibling Scott!

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Share The Love Through Charity

“A man’s true wealth is the good he does in the world.”

I am a board member of my local JCC (SJJCC) which is one of the most impressive charitable organizations around town.  In short, the SJJCC is an extremely well run and well financed organization that offers so much to so many in all different states of need (the list is endless).  It is the JCC that all other JCC’s aspire to be and I am not just saying that because I am on the board (it’s only been a couple years)…this place is the real deal and has been for a very long time. With that, this week I want to discuss my planned visit and sponsorship of the Camp Kehilla carnival and see whether you can help me by donating a sewing machine to another great SJJCC cause.

Camp Kehilla is the SJJCC’s camp for kids with special needs….an amazing place to say the least.  This is the second year that I am sponsoring the carnival.  It is this coming Thursday and I am looking forward to watching all the kids in action, smiling, laughing and having a blast. There is no feeling more rewarding than when the kids come up to me to thank me for the great day they are having. Even if they didn’t thank me, I would feel great. Let’s just hope that the weather cooperates.

Speaking of cooperation, I need some help from all of my quilting peeps. I don’t know if you remember or not, but back in August of 2016, I blogged about the naming of the Andrea & Robert Fortunoff (my parents) Art For Community Program endowed to the SJJCC. Here’s the link to that blog if you want to refresh your memory and the aim of the organization is immediately below:

“Art for Community provides opportunities for children and families to participate in meaningful community service projects creating beautiful and functional items made from fabric to be donated to those in need.”

So here’s the deal.  After a recent brainstorming meeting, the team came up with two great ways to incorporate the fabric donated by the Jaftex Companies (A.E. Nathan Co., Inc., Henry Glass Fabrics, Studioe Fabrics & The Blank Quilting Corp.) in to giving back. The thing is that we are missing one very critical ingredient: sewing machines. That is why I am here today to ask you if you could find it in your heart to donate a gently used (or brand new), portable and fully functioning sewing machine for two upcoming drives and future drives.

The first drive is to make as many pillow cases as possible for a program called Ryan’s Case For Smiles.  This program distributes pillow cases to kids in hospitals in order to help them relieve some of the stress that comes with the traumatic and frightening experience of being in a hospital and all that goes with it.

The second drive is to make place mats for the first ever SJJCC Thanksgiving Community Luncheon for people that are socially isolated. Not only will the attendees get a great meal and not feel socially isolated for the day, but they will also get to take home what I am sure will be a beautiful place mat made with a sewing machine from YOU!

With all that, if you could find it in your heart to donate a sewing machine, please email me at scott@jaftex.com and we can work out the details.  I will even pay for the shipping.  If you help me, I will be forever indebted to you.  You will also become a VIP in my book and I am sure the book of so many others.

XXOO
Sewing Machine Scott

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Oh Yeah, I Forgot To Write A Post May Quilt Market Blog

Happy Monday,

I can’t believe that it is July 10 and I never posted a blog about the May Quilt Market.  Better late than never though.  I am not going to spend a lot of time chirping about the Quilt Market because I am saddened by the continued downturn taking place before my eyes.  I need to continue to be happy boring Scott and talking about Quilt Market will make that extremely challenging. I can only hope that the October Quilt Market in Houston has a better feel.  Let’s say a prayer together and make that happen….AMEN!  I will be there in my smaller booth with a big smile, as always, and hope you will come and keep me company.  I will make sure to have candy for us to share and water to wash it down.  I don’t share Twizzlers though, so bring your own.

So you know that invite that I put out to the world on my blog to come to dinner with the Jaftex peeps?  Yes, it was real!  In fact, we quickly went from 20 people to 50 in a very few days once I mentioned Ruth Chris and steak.  Some people actually took me up on the offer. Imagine that?  Not only that, but they had a lovely evening…or at least that is what they wrote in all the thank you notes.

The crew schlepped their way over to Ruth Chris and I bet they were all very surprised that us Fortunoff boys could throw a p-a-r-t-y.  The drinks were flowing.  The photographer was photographing all the big hitters in attendance.  I really don’t want to name names because I don’t want to make everyone jealous that was like, “I should have emailed Scott about dinner, but I just didn’t know if he was serious or not.”  Come on people, this kid doesn’t lie.  An April Fool’s joke here or there, but a dinner.  I don’t mess around when it comes to food.  In any case, next time I put out an invite, hop to it.

While eating appetizers and having cocktails, everyone mingled.  After that, we sat for some brief speeches from my brother (the hostess with the mostess), Larry Reichenberg (Henry Glass President), Cliff Garfinkel (Studioe & Blank Sales Manager) and yours truly.  In between, salads were served and then our main courses which of course included a lot of tasty steak.  It was made even more delicious for the guests because it was FREEEEEEE!  After dinner, we really stepped it up a notch with a comedian/magician. We joked in the office that this was going to be like my second Bar Mitzvah, but this time we were pulling out all the stops for our valued customers.

The entertainment was great.  The guy managed to get a lot of the audience involved with his schtick.  To be honest, the guy had me in stitches so bad that I went home with a headache from laughing so hard. After the comedy/magic routine, we all had dessert.  The grand finale is that everyone got to go home with a limited edition Jaftex beach bag with some precuts inside.  That was all she wrote folks.  Thank you to all that attended as we greatly value your friendship and partnership.  If you want to be invited to the next big dinner, you are going to have to keep an eagle eye on my blogs for the elusive invitation.

Have a great week!  I am off to camp visiting day next weekend.  I am not sure which emotions will be in control after the weekend, so Monday, there may or may not be a blog waiting for you to read.  Wish me luck!

Scott

PS…here’s a picture of the giveaway bag.  I have a couple left that I might be willing to giveaway if you say the right thing when commenting on this blog.

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Happy Independence Day!

Happy Monday Folks!  It is the summer, so every chance I get to sneak away with a lazy boy blog, I take it.  Sorry folks, but happy boring Scott is also trying to enjoy his summer and the nice long weekend.

Anyway, we should all take a moment to relish the fact that we are now an independent nation.  This is a great country that we all live in and we should all be very thankful.  With that, please make sure to eat a lot of nitrates, red meat and sweets….bearing red, white and blue of course. Also, make sure to have a couple of cocktails to celebrate the special day…if that is what you are in to. Personally, I don’t drink much, except on days that end in Y.

Finally, I wanted to say that in spite of me being lazy this week, I do have lots of blogs in the cue.  I did realize that I never wrote a post quilt market Jaftex dinner blog and I need to post that among a lot of other stuff on my mind.  Stay tuned.

Be safe and be smart.  Don’t drink and drive.  And don’t drink and sew either.

Have fun!

Summer Scott

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Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Family First, Then Fabric

Happy Monday and happy belated Father’s day to all the fathers out there! I hope everyone has recovered from what should have been an amazing day with family and friends celebrating Father’s Day.  I had a lovely day with my family and some delicious Italian food too.  It was Father’s day and I am a father so why not stuff my face with pasta, pizza and so….so much more?  My belly isn’t so happy today.

Even though Father’s day was a special day for me as a father, I have other much more important things on my mind.  For one, I am so sad that my only uncle has to battle brain cancer.  On the other hand, I was so happy that he and my aunt made the trek out to my house to spend Father’s day with the family.  It truly made it one of the most special Father’s Days and I am sure it was special for him too.  The memories will certainly last forever for everyone.

The other thing that is on my mind and eating me up inside is that my oldest son (8 years old) is going to sleep away camp for the first time. Yes, sleep away camp for 49 long days.  Time is flying too fast.  I could literally remember changing his diapers.  Next it will be college.  In any case, emotions have been high in my house of late with my wife, other son and I all struggling to wrap our brains around the void that will exist in our house this summer.  Needless to say, despite being in a little bit of denial, I am an emotional wreck.  Pass the tissues please!

Thanks for listening.  Too hard this week to write a blog about anything else.  Until next week.

Sad Scott

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Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Something To Think About & Act Upon This Memorial Day Weekend

Last weekend at the quilt market, I had a lunch date with a customer. Immediately after, I met up with my brother Greg who was eating at a pizza restaurant called Pi, but it was spelled with the math pi sign. You know that thing that means 3.14159…..

I sat with him while he chowed down on this funky looking pizza with so many odd things on it and so much cheese that my heart was hurting to watch him eat.  It looked something like this, but so much worse.

The pizza place was pretty full.  I did notice that one particular gentlemen was in army fatigues eating with his wife and two kids.  When I noticed them, the random act of kindness Scott was thinking, “wouldn’t it be nice to buy that guy and his family lunch?”  Some time passed, I ran to the restroom, my brother finished and I never did buy them lunch.  Scott Fail! I need to do better.

As we left, Greg went over to the soldier’s table and said to the gentlemen, “Thanks for your service.”  I thought to myself, that was a nice gesture. Dang it, I should have bought them lunch.

Then we headed back to the convention center chatting about business when Greg just blew my mind.  He told me that he paid for the family’s lunch.  WOW!  Not only that, but he didn’t tell the family or anything.  It was a complete and total surprise. A total random act of kindness.  It was an absolutely selfless act.  I imagine that Greg felt really good about what he did.  I was super proud of him, but truly amazed that we had the same idea in our heads.  The one difference was that he acted and I didn’t.  Silly me.

The point here being, as we approach Memorial Day weekend, think about how a small gesture on your behalf will go a long way to show appreciation to those that protect and serve our amazing country.  As my readers know, I am totally a fan of random acts of kindness.  So if it isn’t a soldier, it never hurts to surprise someone who looks like they could use a little help or cheering up.  That’s something for you to think about this Memorial Day weekend.  No one even needs to know about the good deed except you and the recipient.  That is when it feels the best.  With that, be safe and enjoy the long weekend.  Next week I will continue to discuss quilt market.

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: So Much To Learn At Quilt Market

Each quilt market is a life experience in and of itself.  I always learn so much about this industry, business, life, people, social media, the world, selling, buying and the list goes on.

Here are some things I learned while speaking with customers, co-workers, competitors and sages of the industry…..you know, those guys that have been in the fabric business for a lifetime and are a wealth of knowledge.  Kind of like my dad who has worked for over 50 years in fabrics, or like so many others that I spent time with at market chatting about all the changes taking place, the challenges and how fast everything is happening.   It is remarkable how fast things are moving.

On the blogging front I received so much constructive and valuable feedback. For example, I was challenged to make up my mind about who my blog audience really is.  Is it consumers or shop owners?  Hmmm, that was an excellent question.  Well, I didn’t consider my audience as much as I considered my blog brand name:  Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive (TOAFGTE). That is my mantra and I am sticking to it.  Am I being selfish?   It’s always about you Scott.  You sound like my wife.

Anyhow, these are my stories, 50 or so a year, take them or leave them. Read them or don’t read them.  I will just continue to kick that can down the road for now.  Selfish again? I just can’t please everyone. I do acknowledge the suggestion and appreciate the constructive criticism, but I am sticking with my guiding (TOAFGTE) force.

Another suggestion I heard was that I should avoid the grinchy and negative blogs.  I can live with that suggestion because no one cares to hear about my problems, but maybe on the other hand they do.  Usually my most grinchy blogs stimulate the most comments and discussions. That being said, the lawyer in me wants to retort that I am just not happy with everything all the time and I like to tell it how it is without sugar coating. Unfortunately, life is not always filled with rainbows and ice cream, although that would be fantastic.  If you want happy boring Scott, I guess I will have to give in to that one the best I can.  I am going to need to order more happy pills.  I freaking hate happy boring Scott and I am not sure that you will like him either.  Anyway…I guess we will have to wait it and out see.

Another suggestion was to write shorter blogs and newsletters.  (I write those too for SE & BQC in case you were wondering).  You want shorter? You got it.

TO BE CONTINUED……….

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: What Can I Do To Help You Sell Studioe Fabrics?

The clock is ticking down until yet another Quilt Market.  With market in mind, I have been thinking a lot lately about the business environment and trying to wrap my brain around what the future might have in store for this industry.  The conclusion, I have no freaking clue and to be perfectly honest and that makes me a little nervous.  So what’s a textile executive to do or anyone in our industry for that matter?

Here are some simple answers in no particular order:

  • Work hard.
  • Keep designing beautiful prints.
  • Stay on top of technological advances.
  • Be active on social media.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Plan for the future and not just today.
  • Have a plan.
  • Take care of customers and continue to work under the mantra that the customer is always right. (Customer service)
  • Be aggressive.
  • Be kind all the time.
  • Focus on what has worked and maximize its potential.
  • Think a lot and try to think outside of the box.
  • Be different and innovate where possible.
  • Take calculated risks.
  • Be surrounded by smart and creative people.
  • Question things that don’t add up.
  • Crunch numbers.  They can be your best friend.  They do not lie unless you have a crappy calculator.
  • Be willing to change when the circumstances dictate.  Don’t be satisfied with status quo or mediocrity.
  • Ship as quickly as possible.
  • Offer competitive pricing.
  • Hire knowledgeable sales people.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Care for those around you.
  • Be respectful.
  • Be compassionate.
  • Be patient.
  • Share with others who are less fortunate than you.  Donate fabric.
  • Help customers succeed.

Today, I do want to focus on the last item on the list:  help customers to succeed.  Hence the title of this blog, What Can I Do To Help You Sell Studioe Fabrics?

I am vowing right here and right now to help Studioe as well as Blank Quilting, Henry Glass & A.E. Nathan customers succeed. You might be thinking, damn Scott, that will be a huge undertaking. What are you thinking?  The thing is that I am not afraid.  I am in an 87 year family business and I am part of the fourth generation with my very capable brother and of course my wise father too.  I am going to be 45 this year.  I can handle this and I will handle this. What do I have to lose?  We didn’t make it 87 years in the business having family members that were scared and we aren’t starting now with me….that’s for sure.  And with that, I am not going to slack, but rather I am going to embrace this situation head on and take the bull by the horns.

So where do I begin?  Starting right here and right now, I am going to start spreading the word that I, Scott Fortunoff, am on a mission to help you, however I can within reason, sell fabrics from family of companies. Essentially, I am now transferring the burden on to you and asking you to challenge me.  Yes, I am talking to you. How can I help you today, tomorrow or next year?

Get in touch with me asap with your ideas.  I promise not to disappoint you.  BRING IT ON!

Scott Fortunoff

800-294-9495 x218

scott@jaftex.com

I will be at booth 2915 at market and will be waiting for your challenge.

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Quilt Market Is Quickly Approaching, Here’s What You Can Expect From Studioe

Happy Monday To All,

The countdown is on until we start to pack our bags to head to St. Louis, Missouri for what will be something like my 25th international quilt market.  As usual, I am pretty psyched because I will have the great opportunity to show off all the new things that Studioe Fabrics and our other companies (Henry Glass Fabrics, The Blank Quilting Corp. & A.E. Nathan) have to offer. I will be at booth 2915 and I still have time slots available if you would like to set up an appointment with me.  Feel free to email me at scott@jaftex.com to set something up as I would love to show you all the new lines or just chat and catch up.

As you probably know, I have been pretty aggressive about putting out the open invitation to just about anyone in the industry who wanted to have a free dinner with me and a great crew of “quilting” people on Friday night at Ruth Chris.  We started with a small room and have since had to upgrade to a much larger room to accommodate all the additional requests. This is definitely a good thing!  That being said, it is time to rescind the invitation because if too many more people come, the night will lose its importance and just be a big mish mosh.  You could go to someone else’s party if you are looking for something like that.  I want to be able to try to talk to everyone attending and if more people come, it will be too impersonal and no fun.  I am really pleased with the mix of people that we have coming and I look forward to a great evening.  If you missed out this time, you will probably have another opportunity to join me at a future market.  I hope to have a couple of future blogs about the evening.

I wanted to let you know about the exciting Studioe Fabrics schoolhouses that we are planning for this market so that you can start marking up you calendars.  You aren’t going to want to miss these.

First up, Heidi Pridemore of The Whimsical Workshop will be talking about fabric book panels as well as other easy project ideas.  She will be in room 261 from 2:35-2:50.  Heidi and her team are our go to for all of our free projects needs.  She is very knowledgeable and creative and her schoolhouses are always invaluable for shop owners.  In fact, the last time she spoke, several people went out of their way to find me and tell me how great she was.  You can’t make this stuff up.  Anyway, you should make sure to come see Heidi perform. I am sure that she will be talking about the ever-popular Huggable & Loveable books that Studioe creates in conjunction with esteemed author Sandra Magsamen.  I have spoken about these books many times, but I call them books “on steroids” because they have appendages that hang from the top, bottom or side of the soft fabric book.  For example, we have hats, antlers, tails, feet, tires and so much more.  We can’t reorder these fabrics fast enough, so if you don’t know about them, you should certainly check them out and Heidi’s schoolhouse too!

Next up, we have Pepper Cory.  Need I say more?  No really!  Everyone knows Pepper and we are so proud to have her on our team.  She helped to put Studioe on the proverbial map with her Peppered Cotton shot cottons and we can’t thank her enough for that.  This time Pepper is mixing it up a little school housewise and not only talking about the Peppered Cottons. This time around Pepper is going to demonstrate a marketing campaign to help you sell fabric. That sounds like a must see if you ask me.  She too will be in room 261 and will be speaking from 2:55-3:25.  I am sure that Pepper will impress you with some fresh ideas.

Finally, we have Janice Pope of The Anything But Boring pattern company. In addition to being a pattern designer, Janice is one of our top fabric sales reps. Janice will be speaking about creating projects with non-traditional fabrics.  She will be in room 261 from 3:30 to 4:00.  I don’t know the entire agenda, but I know that Janice will be demonstrating ways to use gauze fabric and yarn dyed flannels to name a few.  I am sure that she will have a lot more up her sleeves.  So come on down to check it out as I am sure it will inspire you to step out of the box of just using 60×60 construction cottons since most everyone knows what to do with those by now.

That’s all that I have for you this week folks.  I hope that you take advantage of all that Studioe and the other Jaftex companies have to offer this quilt market.  I look forward to seeing you real soon.  And listen, it would be awesome if you came up to me and introduced yourself.  I love to continue to meet customers and people who read my blogs.  Safe travels.

See you soon!

Scott Fortunoff

Studioe Fabrics President