Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: It Is Nice To Hit The Road Once & Awhile Part 2

Day 2 in Chattanooga, Tennessee started off bright and early.  After about a 30 minute drive from my hotel, I arrived at Ready Set Sew on 3444 Ringgold Road owned by Melanie Coakley.

We started off the meeting by helping Melanie pick some fabrics for her store’s Row By Row pattern.  It was like a scavenger hunt to find the ideal prints for the row.  That went on for a little while and then we found out that Melanie had to substitute teach the 10:30 am class in the store.  So Melanie unfortunately had to leave us.  It was a shame because I was excited to hear all about the embroidery business that she had within the store.  Thereafter, we had the pleasure of working with Terri Zitrick-Dennehy who was Melanie’s right hand.  Terri picked a bunch of fabrics and was also kind enough to give us a tour of the store and talk about trends.  After writing some more orders with Terri, we had to wrap things up.  At around noon, it was time for us to head out.

Map of Ooltewah, TN

The next appointment was about 45 minutes away in Ooltewah, TN.  I can’t even pronounce that name.  Can you?  In any case, we were running a little late for our next appointment, so I had Veronica go ahead and I picked up lunch for everyone at The 4 Corners Café.  When I arrived at Chattanooga Quilts at 5711 Main Street, I had the great pleasure of meeting owner, Kim Thomas, and her associate Melissa Wexler.  If you recall the mug that I got as a gift for speaking at the prior night’s guild meeting, that was from this shop.  

At that point, Veronica had already gone through most of the Blank Quilting Corporation’s newest lines.  So I showed the Studioe lines which is something I am always proud to do.  The most exciting part came after when I got a tour of the shop.  I was shown a new extension that was being added as well as tons of inspiring projects that adorned the shop.  So this was the second day in a row where I encountered shops that were expanding.  In my opinion, this is definitely a good sign.  Don’t you think?  It was great to see a bunch of projects displayed using fabrics from some of the Jaftex Companies.  See all the photos below:

 This is from the Stitch In Time line by The Blank Quilting Corp.

This is a quilt top made with the Studioe Blue Bird line by Jennifer Brinley.

This is a quilt top made with the Brushstrokes line by Pepper Cory.  Isn’t it amazing?

Here is a quilt top from the Gentle Forest line by Tea & Sympathy.  Don’t you just love the orange & grey together?  

My most favorite thing of all was seeing how clever Kim was to have purchased some pews from a local church to use to display her fabric bolts.  See the photos above.  Clever, huh?      

That just about summed up my visit to Chattanooga Quilts aside from additional time spent with one hysterically funny customer.  
Overall, my visit to Tennessee was enlightening like all my trips are.  There are just so many shops out there and each shop is so much different from the next.  There are surprises at the turn of every corner and I love it.  That is why it is nice to hit the road as much as possible.  
Next on the agenda, Veronica and I had a 2 hour long ride to Huntsville, Alabama.  We visited Huntsville Sew & Vac at 200 Oakwood Avenue.  This shop was just what the named described…sewing stuff and vacuum stuff.  This wasn’t a typical sales meeting, but rather just a meet and greet.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a salesman and always like to sell, but a meet and greet every once and awhile works for me too.  As much as I like to sell, I like to meet as many customers as possible and as often as possible.  Have we met yet?  Relationships change so much when you actually get to meet someone in person as opposed to a phone call or email which is so impersonal.  Don’t you agree?

I had the chance to spend time with owner Donna Cagle.  She toured me around and we talked about lots of different ideas and things going on in the industry.  I also got to meet Sherri Spivey who consults/works for Donna.  Sherri had so much energy and tons of great ideas that I just couldn’t write them all down fast enough.  After hanging out with them for about 45 minutes, Veronica, Sherry & I went to dinner.  Unfortunately, Donna couldn’t make it.  We went to this great Italian place called Mezzaluna.  I had a delicious pizza all to my big ole self.  There isn’t much more to put in this blog about that meeting, but I did want you to see some photos from the Shop.  Here goes:

 This is the shop’s display of the Studioe Heartsong line.  Tiffany blue anyone?  

This is the red/orange version and the blue version of By The Sea from Elizabeth Isles.  The prior line by Elizabeth was Natural Wonders.  The future line is Mariposa Meadow.  Elizabeth has done amazing for Studioe!

This is a photo of some more of the By The Sea blue version as well as the blue version of Modern Mixers 2.

I have to leave the very best for last though.  Huntsville Sew & Vac had on display a very small quilt that was nothing short of awesome.  The best part about it was that it was made by our sales rep Veronica Hofman-Ortega.  I can’t say it enough about how amazing and talented the Studioe/Blank sales reps are when it comes to quilting….and selling.  They aren’t just sales reps, they are talented quilters with tons of knowledge that you should be sure to capitalize upon.  Our reps are there to help, you just need to ask.  And it is for FREE!

I can’t “BELIEVE” how amazing this is.

And you have a nice backside too.

That is all I have for you this week.  Next week, I will tell you all about my visit to StitchCraft in Boca Raton, Florida and then I will tell you about some future trips including another guild speaking engagement.
Until Then,
This Is Travelling South Scott


Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: It Is Nice To Hit The Road Once & Awhile

I was invited to speak at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Quilt Guild on February 15, 2016 (The mug below was my present from the guild for speaking.  Isn’t it sweet?).  So I flew in to the cute little airport in Chattanooga, Tennessee that Monday morning bright and early.  Before the big speaking event, I was scheduled to visit one quilt shop with the local sales rep, Veronica Hofman-Ortega, who covers Tennessee and other surrounding states.  

First up was Bernina Sew N Quilt Studio at 5950 Shallowford Road.  I had the great opportunity to meet husband and wife owners Melissa and Bill Klingensmith.  This shop was not a typical quilt shop in that their focus was really more on machines, wide backs and some pre-cut fabrics.  Bill was very proud to give me a tour of a new space that they were expanding into next door.  He was doing all the work himself which was very impressive especially to someone who is no Handy Manny [If you didn’t know, Handy Manny is the carpenter in a cartoon with his namesake (see below).  The things I learn from my kids.]  It is really nice to see shops that are expanding as that typically implies that business is good.  So that was a good sign.  Good luck with the expansion!   

Overall, we had a nice first visit at Bernina Sew N Quilt.  We spent a lot of time reviewing all of the Studioe 108″ backs as well as the precuts.  After we were done, I roamed around and enjoyed the projects on the walls and had the opportunity to chat with some customers and staff.  One flannel rag quilt particularly caught my attention that I wanted to share with you below.  

After Bernina Sew N Quilt, Veronica and I headed over for linner (lunch/dinner) at around 4.  We went to this cute Italian joint and each of us indulged in some large pasta portions.  We hung around there for a little bit stalling and just chatting about fabric and stuff like that.  I eventually headed over to the Valleybrook Presbyterian Church at 6001 Hixson Pike in Hixson, Tennessee.  It was raining really badly that night so I started off a little moist which is definitely not an ideal way to start off a speaking engagement.  By the way, I forgot to mention that it was President’s day and the guild did a cute play on President’s day in the invite to the guild.  They were playing off the idea that it was President’s Day and the President of Studioe & The Blank Quilting Corp. (me) was coming in to town.  Very clever Choo Choo Guilders!  

So now let’s get to the fun part and please note that the fun part had nothing to do with me as I was just the side show.  To get the evening going, the guild members did show and tell for me which was truly inspiring.  It was so impressive to see such beautiful projects made with fabric.  Without further ado, please check this out.  I am only showing pictures because those are worth 1000 words and I did not take any notes of who made what and how.  So this is courtesy of the 30 or so Choo Choo Quilt Guild members that I had the pleasure of spending President’s day with.  Please keep in mind that I am neither a quilter or the best photographer, so sorry for that in advance.  I do hope that I don’t do a disservice to these awesome projects.      

This was a neat one with lights flashing.

veronica's quilt using peppered cottons
This was Veronica’s quilt using Peppered Cottons.  Is she talented or what?  

This was such a fun show and tell for me.  As for my speaking engagement, I talked about whatever the members wanted to hear about, but after viewing all these great images, what I said doesn’t really matter anymore.

Thanks to the Choo Choo Quilt Guild.  Next week, I will continue with the rest of the details of my travels through the South and some more eye candy for your viewing pleasure.

Until Then,
Studioe Scott

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Blog Delay

Good Evening Blog Fans,
I worked very hard on a blog today, but just couldn’t get it done in time to post and be proud of it.  No excuses.  All I can say is that “I am sorry.” That is the best that I can do.  I promise to get it done in the next day or so.  It will be all about my recent quilt shop visits in Tennessee, Alabama and Florida as well as my speaking engagement in front of the Chattanooga Choo Choo Quilt Guild.  There will be several photos of some amazing projects that I had the pleasure of being shown on this trip.
Until Then,

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Craftsy Uproar & The Enablers Ranked

Last week I chimed in with my 2 cents on the current Craftsy predicament.  It isn’t like there is that much drama in this industry, so I need to capitalize on the blogging when the opportunity arises and strike while the iron is hot. 

Since my initial blog on Craftsy, I have received many emails, blog and social media comments on the subject.  I now want to share some newly discovered info with you, but before I do that, I wanted to make one observation.  The majority of the comments that I heard were from non-quilt shop owners i.e. ultimate consumers and most of them were in defense of Craftsy, which caught me a little off-guard.  The comments were mostly focused on the cheap prices.  I guess in there lies the crux of the problem….people still want to pay as little as possible for all purchases….including fabric.  That being said, I would love to hear from some quilt shop owners about the situation, how they feel about it and what they are doing about it.  Please do share your comments.
The good news is, at least for the Jaftex companies (Studioe Fabrics, The Blank Quilting Corp. & Henry Glass Fabrics), that our reps are actually getting more business due to this Craftsy situation.  A couple of reps have told me that they have visited shops and the shop owners actually took out the list of approved vendors (non-Craftsy suppliers) and the disapproved vendors (Craftsy suppliers).  As mentioned before, I can not complain about being the beneficiary of the boycotting of Craftsy vendors.  I should really clarify this because it isn’t officially being called a boycott, but rather I think the euphemism being used is “selective purchasing.”  This isn’t the ideal way to gain market share as we would prefer to do that on the merits of our amazing fabrics.  In any case, you know how the expression goes…
For those of you who are not in the know and involved with the Fab Shop Forum, where much of this anti-Craftsy banter is being tossed around, I wanted to share with you and all my readers the list of Craftsy fabric vendors.  The lists are below and separated into “big vendors” and “little vendors.”  Moda is number one in the rankings.  Unfortunately, this is not a number one ranking that anyone can be proud of….probably a first for Moda as they are number one in most everything else.  I guess you can’t win them all.  Just as an aside, I have great respect for Moda. 

MODA 127
RJR 78


The last issue to discuss here is the legality of “selective purchasing” a.k.a. boycotting.  The reason that I am delving into this is because I am being told that some company presidents and owners are saying that there could be legal ramifications to what is taking place now.  In my opinion, there are no legal issues and the presidents are just trying to scare everyone away. 
As my loyal readers know, I did suffer through three long years of law school.  Having given this situation some thought, with my legal hat on, I believe that there are no legal issues based on these facts:

I can sell to whoever I want to:  One has a choice to sell Craftsy or not.
I can stop selling to whoever I want for any reason or no reason whatsoever:  Vendors can stop selling Craftsy whenever they want.
Anyone can stop buying from me whenever they want for any reason or no reason whatsoever:  Shop owners can stop buying from “violators” if they want.

In closing, in seems that the “violators” need to make a decision to continue selling Craftsy or not.  Whatever that decision may be, the companies will have to deal with the consequences that come with the decision and don’t forget that it isn’t easy to get Craftsy to stop selling your products on their site.  So even if you do stop selling them, your existing products will remain on the site until sold out and deleted. As the expression goes, 

Until Next Week,
This Is Still Scott “NOT SELLING TO CRAFTSY EVER” Fortunoff    
These are the opinions of Scott Fortunoff and Scott Fortunoff only.  This does not represent the opinion of anyone other than Scott Fortunoff, the individual, or any of the companies that Scott Fortunoff is associated with.