TALES OF A FOURTH GENERATION TEXTILE EXECUTIVE Blog #1, Part A: Where Did This Fabric Come From?

Hello Studioe Fans! 

I am Scott Fortunoff, the new president and sales manager of Studioe Fabrics.

In light of my new role at Studioe, I wanted to start a new blog installment called “Tales of a Fourth Generation Textile Executive.” During the year, I plan to fill you in on a variety of subjects and tales related to the over-the-counter textile market.  I hope that you will find the blog to be unique, insightful and interesting.  Please feel free to ask questions and make comments.  I will do my best to answer your questions in a timely fashion.

TALES OF A FOURTH GENERATION TEXTILE EXECUTIVE

Blog #1, Part A:  Where Did This Fabric Come From?

PART 1:  CHINA TO KOREA, KOREA TO NEW YORK, NEW YORK TO CHARLESTON

As I travel more and more with the Studioe sales reps showing the Studioe lines and meeting with quilt shop owners around the US, there are a couple of questions that I continue to hear over and over again:

“How far does the fabric travel to finally get onto my store shelf?”

“What does your warehouse look like?”

“How does the fabric get double and rolled onto the bolt?”

Wonder no more!  In this blog, I will answer those questions and much more, as we follow the fabric along it’s path to your door.

In order to get the process going, you must have greige goods, actually pronounced “gray” (raw fabric before dyeing or bleaching).  The greige goods come from many different mills, but one in particular that we often use is the Wei Chaw Mill near Shanghai, China (see map of Shanghai below).

MAP OF SHANGHAI AREA

The greige goods travel by boat in bale packing (see image below) and approximately 100,000 yards fit into a full container.

 

BALES OF COTTON

It takes about one week for the greige goods to reach the Pusan Port in Korea (see image below).  Once reaching the port, the greige goods are unloaded from the containers and cleared through customs.  The mills must pay a 10% duty in order for the greige goods to be released.

PORT OF PUSAN, KOREA

At this point, the greige goods are brought, by container truck, to the printing plant in Daegu, Korea (see map below).  This takes approximately four hours.  It’s now been about 7-10 days since the greige goods have been acquired and they finally arrive at the printing plant.  First, the greige goods go through a bleaching process in order to get the fabric to a consistent form….all white and nice without any cotton seed or dirt or blemishes.

After the bleaching is complete, the goods dry and then they are prepared to be printed.   The mill in Daegu uses both flat bed and rotary machine printing.  There are too many details to go into, so take my word that this is an intense process of color matching, press alignment, and all the rest of the inner workings that goes on to make a great print.  After printing, the goods are inspected, and any part of the fabric with design or thread flaws are cut out of the lot.  The printed fabric then gets rolled on to larger tubes (a.k.a. rot or rolled on tubes).  After the rolls are all prepared, they are placed in plastic bags and loaded on to the pallets (see photo below).

ROT on PALLETS

 

 

These rolls can range from 60-250 yards depending on the mill and customer requests.  Our company prefers larger rolls because then we end up with fewer short pieces.  For example, if the roll is 75 yards and we are cutting 15 yard pieces, we would hope to get 5 bolts. But if there is a seam that has to be cut out, we end up with 4 good/standard bolts and one odd sized, non-standard bolt.  On the other hand, if the roll is 250 yards, we are much more likely to end up with around 16 standard bolts which is a much better result.

Now that the fabric is palletized, it needs to take the four hour trip back to the Port of Pusan, by container truck, and from there the container needs to be loaded on to a ship to the U.S.  The quantity of fabric will determine how the goods are to be shipped.  If we have about 70,000 yards or less to ship, the goods would have to travel LCL (less than a container load).  If it is LCL, our goods may be mixed with another fabric vendor’s goods.  On the other hand, if we have 80,000 yards to ship, that quantity can go by itself in our own 20 foot container. Moreover, if we have 130,000 to 140,000 yards, that can go in a 40 foot container (see below).

20 FOOT CONTAINER  or 40 FOOT CONTAINER

We prefer to have a full container because that way we can control our own destiny, like the timing, port of entry, type of carrier and so on.    However, with LCL, we are at the mercy of someone else.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that we have enough fabric to fill a full container, but we try our best as we like to have control.

All aboard to the U.S. of A.!  Then, a mere 20-25 days later the boat arrives at the Port of New York.  From the Port of New York, the goods can travel in any of the following ways to Charleston, South Carolina:

By boat to Charleston, by truck to Charleston, by boat to Atlanta and then Charleston, or by truck to Atlanta and then Charleston.

However the fabric gets to Charleston, it finally gets  cleared through customs and then travels by truck to Seneca, South Carolina.  Welcome to SNS SOUTH!

 

 

To be Continued….. 

 

 

 

 

TALES OF A FOURTH GENERATION TEXTILE EXECUTIVE Part B: Where Did This Fabric Come From?

PART 2:  SNS SOUTH, UNLOADING, UNPACKING, DOUBLE AND ROLLING, BAGGING, STOCKING THE SHELVES, PICKING & PACKING AND FINALLY SHIPPING TO YOUR STORE.

 

Is there anybody out there? Hi!  It’s me, Scott.  I’m back!  From the multitude of comments, emails, phone calls, death threats (note sarcasm) that I have been receiving in response to my first blog installment of Tales of a 4th Generation Textile Executive, it seems quite clear that legions of quilters around the world are waiting on the edge of their seats for my next installment (note sarcasm again).  The irony of the whole thing is that my social media guru, Vanessa, keeps begging me to write the blog… as if anyone is going to read it.  “Just trying to stay with the schedule Scott” she keeps saying.  I get it Vanessa.  The only thing more depressing than the number of people reading my blog is that I, being “Mr. Studioe” have like 60 friends on Facebook.  Who knew that one day our self-worth would be measured by the number of Facebook friends we have?  What is this world coming to?

Enough with the digression….sorry!  To kick things off in Part 2 of “Where Did This Fabric Come from?” I am going to send a free fat quarter bundle of our beautiful basic Watermark line to the first person that makes a comment about this blog.  I don’t even care what your comment is, just say something, anything…..pretty please.

Now that our greige goods have been shipped, dyed, printed, packed and shipped again, they have finally arrived at SNS South at 1631b Sandifer Boulevard in South Carolina (see that little red dot on the map below).

SNS South

 

Entrance to SNS South – Seneca, South Carolina

Two Large Main Buildings at SNS South

SNS South is comprised of two massive buildings as you can see from the photos above.  Each of the buildings is further subdivided into about 4 large rooms with different customer’s fabrics and required machinery in each room.  In addition, SNS has two other facilities.  One is SNS West which is in Fontana, California.  SNS West is where a lot of fleece is double and rolled for many U.S.  fabric vendors.  Double and rolling in California helps to save on the freight expense by not having to ship the fleece cross country.  The other SNS facility is in Clifton, NJ.  This facility is called, you guessed it, SNS North.  In total, the SNS facilities comprise of over 1 million square feet in the whole country.  If you have a shop in the U.S., it is highly likely that you have received fabric that was handled by one of the SNS facilities, as they have many fabric convertors as their customers.

SNS is not owned by any one fabric convertor, but rather, SNS is a contract warehouse.  They charge a fee for doing whatever it takes to get fabric in, rolled or packaged, and then shipped out to customers worldwide.  As mentioned in Part 1 of the blog, my family did own a converting plant or two at one point.  However, we have learned that it is a lot easier to contract out the work than to have to deal with the problems and stresses of having a warehouse,  especially one that is not nearby.  SNS performs the service of cutting the fabric, rolling onto boards, applying labels, and packing on pallets.  Everything they do is factored into a single price that is attached to the cost of a yard of fabric. Costs of their services usually ranges anywhere from 15-25 cents per yard depending on various factors like:

  • Width of fabric. i.e. 44/45” vs. 60”, 90” or 108”.
  • Weight of fabric i.e. fleece is more expensive than flannel or quilting cottons.
  • Size of the double and rolled pieces i.e. an 8 yard bolt would cost more than a 10 or 12 yard bolt.
  • Boxes used to ship out fabric i.e. recycled vs. brand new.
  • Who the ultimate customer is i.e. quilt stores vs. chains.
  • How good of a customer you are at SNS – meaning the amount of volume performed each year.

Take a look at this photo below of the loading docks and just picture 3 different trucks backed in there with their rear doors open so that the SNS employees can go inside the trucks and unload all the fabrics.  Sometimes when the fabrics come in on the trucks they come in nice and neat on pallets which are easily removed with forklifts (see two forklifts below).  Other times, the goods could come in loose in which case the workers have to unload the trucks by hand and load the fabric on to pallets (see photo below).

Docks where goods are removed from trucks

Large forklift moving pallets of fabric

 

Small forklift at SNS South

 

Loose rolls piled onto pallets

 

After the trucks are unloaded, the truckers leave the facility and are off to their next job.  Now comes the most important part of the entire process…..the fabrics have to be double and rolled.  Essentially what this means is that the fabrics are folded in half on the width (half of 44/45” inches) and are rolled on to 23” boards.  For 108” wide goods, we us 27” boards.  Most vendors in the fabric industry use machinery to double and roll the fabrics.  Interestingly enough, two years ago when I went to India I learned that some of the goods there are double and rolled by hand.  The workers just sit on the floor and patiently roll the fabric.  I am sure it won’t be long before they get some double and rolling machines. It is much quicker when it’s automated. Next post, we will see the automation of doubling and rolling the fabric! Stay tuned!

NEW, NEW, NEW AND ALL OTHER THINGS NEW.

We are in the process of unpacking our big ‘ole suitcases from the Houston Quilt Market. You probably are doing the same, right? It turns out that our suitcase is now full of new ideas, inspiration and tricks. There is so much to discover at the quilt market and while there is just NO WAY to absorb it all, there are some very important take-away ideas that we want to share with you.

Most importantly, we hope you noticed that Studioe has an entirely NEW presence that created a buzz at the Houston market!  Did you hear it? We are essentially brand new in our management, our designs, our marketing and our aggressive Free Freight sales promotion for our quilt shop owners.

First the new management: Scott Fortunoff, the fourth generation of a long-standing New York textile family, is at the helm of Studioe as the new president and sales manager. The vitality of the Fortunoff family is no secret to the fabric world, having seen the success of Henry Glass Fabrics, A.E. Nathan Co., Inc, Jaftex Corp., The New Stylemaker and Fabric Editions, Inc. (This Fortunoff family has no relation to the retail chain on the east coast).

Scott’s ambition for the lines, the designs and the promotion of Studioe is a force as strong as the winds of Hurricane Sandy, but a lot kinder.  Scott’s personality is such that he tries to meet and talk to all our customers whether in person, on the phone or by email.  Did you get a chance to meet him yet?  If you didn’t see him in action at School House, Sample Spree or at the Studioe booth, you should make an effort to meet him as he would like to get to know each and every one of you.Second the designs: Megan Downer, a lovely soft spoken woman and thoughtful designer is leading the new team in New York. She coordinates designs from the talented bevy of licensed designers on Team Studioeand is looking to build her team.  Her first major acquisition was to sign Pepper Cory up to design a taupe inspired line called Town & Country.  Megan is on the prowl for more designers so expect more promising additions. The eight lines introduced at market are the result of Megan’s dedication to getting the design team in high gear, in spite of having a major surgery in the midst of it all.

 

Finally, but certainly not all….the spirit of Team Studioe is strong with the many talents of people like Laura Gilvin and Vanessa Denniston (“V”) in marketing, advertising and social media.  They work to get the quilt patterns made by our outside pattern designers, they design all of the advertisements, they are working to build our social media presence, they built our new website and so much more. They are the behind the scenes workers who bring the fabric to life and to market and are keys to the success of Studioe. There are a lot of hands and minds that touch the Studioe name and we are all dedicated to bringing the Studioe brand into a new era, with all things new for you.  We hope you like our new direction and appreciate your support.

Happy Quilting!

Team Studioe