Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Stick With The Jaftex Companies For The Long-Term

Happy Monday to all, and of course, Happy belated Father’s Day to all the fathers out there and all the fathers in your life.  I hope everyone had a great day on Sunday, I know I did.

Happy-Fathers-Day-Images

This week I want to talk about something that has been brewing in my mind since quilt market.  The subject at hand is the major inflection point that I think we have reached in the industry.  Based on my observations, I think the inflection point we are nearing in on is going to result in a healthy cleansing for the industry where only the strongest will survive and the weak will essentially disappear.

inflection point

There really are many aspects of this cleansing, but what it comes down to is survival of the fittest.  We have reached the point in the fabric business where there is an over supply of fabric suppliers and fabric retailers and something has to give.  As such, this has caused downward pricing pressures (lower selling prices=lower margins) across the board, but this has probably been a bigger issue for the retailers.  I believe that it has finally reached the point where the pricing pressures (higher costs) and other upward pressures i.e. inflation related to labor, rent, commodities, etc. all have combined to force owners to take a long hard look at the viability of remaining in business.

pressure

As many of you know, I am a firm believer of being in business for profit. Therefore, if you are no longer making a profit, overworking yourself and stressing out, it is time to throw in the towel and find something new to do.  Otherwise, what is the point?  This is a difficult decision to make, but if the writing is on the wall, you need to make the tough decision before things get even worse and it takes a toll on your well being.  You can’t be afraid to cut your losses because as we often like to say at Jaftex, “The first loss is your best loss.”

profit

The challenge for fabric vendors is that the demand for fabric is being spread over so many more vendors.  In other words, everyone is probably doing less business than they were doing a couple years ago with the same amount of time, effort and overhead, in spite of the overall total purchases in the industry having remained around the same.  This is certainly starting to take its toll on the industry and starting to become evident.

challenges

I know that several competitors were very disappointed with how poor their sales were at quilt market.  I have also heard rumors of vendors being in such poor financial shape that they have considered closing their businesses.  We have also seen a big increase in resumes coming through our offices due to industry layoffs.  Some of our contemporaries are even cutting employees down to fewer than 5 days a week. It is very hard to keep morale up when you can’t keep your employees working for 5 days a week and it is not surprising that these people are looking for other work. Moreover, this does not send a good message to anyone.  In any case, I guess you need to do what you can to try to survive until you just can’t take it any longer.

tough times

I hate to be a Debbie Downer in this blog, but the truth is that if we lost some suppliers and retailers, it would be healthy for the industry. It would improve the supply/demand balance that has certainly gotten out of whack.  I am not wishing this upon anyone, as I would not want someone to wish this upon my company, but in the end this will help everyone involved.

jaftex

Now that I got all the negativity out of the way, I want to tie this all back to our companies and explain why everyone should stick with the Jaftex Companies.  As you know, we have been in business for 86 years and we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, especially with my brother and I around.  We are both in our 40’s, each with 2 sons, and of course our still very active father who is just turning 70 this year (recall my grandfather worked until about 94) who is also very involved.  Our business is financially sound and we take a lot of pride in being financially prudent in all our business dealings.  Contrary to what is going on in most parts of the industry, our businesses are bucking the trend and we are currently growing.

sales reps

I give much of the credit for the growth to the sales force that we acquired when we purchased Blank Quilting.  I feel strongly that due to the knowledge of our sales force and the added value that they provide that we are in fact taking market share from others in the industry.  Shop owners are starting to take notice that our sales force really knows their stuff. Ironically, the competition has been taking notice too as demonstrated by all the calls from other company sales managers trying to steal our reps.

market share

We are also thinking outside the box and trying new things.  Case in point, we recently partnered with Air-lite Manufacturing to offer batting products and this too will add to our volume.  Moreover, The Blank Quilting Corp. just partnered with Stof of Denmark to offer their beautiful fabrics in the USA.  As you can see, we are not sitting idle waiting for the world to come to us because business has gotten much harder.  We are making things happen and we are not afraid to try new things, nor are we afraid to cut our losses when something isn’t working.

outside the box

All in all, it is sad to have this happen to our industry, but it is what it is and in the end a cleansing will be healthy for all involved.  Just remember that the Jaftex Companies are going to be here for a long time to come, so stick with us and you will be in good hands.

LONG-TERM red Rubber Stamp over a white background.

Thanks for your time.  Until next time.

Sincerely,

Stick With Studioe (& Jaftex) Scott

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Peppered Cotton Update

Happy Monday Y’All,

I am going to take a little respite from my blogs on Soldier S and the American Honor line for a little bit to bring some focus back to Studioe Fabrics.  And what better to focus upon than Pepper Cory and Peppered Cottons?

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12 new Peppered Cottons.

If you weren’t aware, we just introduced 12 new colors of Peppered Cottons at the Salt Lake City Quilt Market which you can see immediately above. Please keep in mind that the colors on your screen may be different than the actual fabric.  You know how that goes.  Other than that, there is nothing earth shattering to report on these Peppered Cottons, besides the fact that they are awesome, since most of you are very intimately familiar with the product.

pc project
Free project download to go with the new grouping of colors.

The one thing I do want to point out is that 4 of the new colors are really solid in that the colors in the warp and the weft are the same.  Prior to this, the only color that fell into the solid category was the Flame color 16 which is red with red.  Now, we have White Sugar color 09 that is white with white and a lovely white it is if I couldn’t say so myself.  Then we have Deep Space color 98 which is black with black.  Then we have Buttercup color 81 which is yellow with yellow.  Finally, we have True Royal color 77 which is royal with royal. The only other highlight in my opinion would be the Stonewash color 79 which will be great to go with Americana and denim type projects.  We liked this color so much that we took a shot (no pun intended) and made it the only brand new color to add to the new Peppered Cotton 108 wide quilt backs.  This leads me perfectly in to my next subject…Peppered Cotton 108″.

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Introducing Peppered Cottons 108″.

We are really excited about the new wide 108″ Peppered Cottons.  We have been wanting to run this for a long time, but were a little bit nervous because of the bigger price and the large minimums required.  We finally pulled the trigger and are glad we did because the reaction thus far has been overwhelming.  Now we just need to keep our finger’s crossed that the ultimate consumers will love these too.  Stay tuned for the new 108″ and new 44″ Peppered Cottons shipping this September.

 Schoolhouse!
Schoolhouse!

Ok, so what else can I tell you?  Oh yeah, at Pepper’s Schoolhouse at market it came up that we were getting rid of some of the slower moving colors to replace them with hopefully more popular colors.  So I wanted to share the list of colors that we are going to be dropping when we run out of stock.

RIP Sunny Aqua and Ochre.
RIP Sunny Aqua and Ochre.

Color 52 Sunny Aqua and color 56 Ochre are gonzo….no more here, RIP. Sorry. If you have any available, you might want to hoard it because one day it will be very valuable.  Here is the list of colors that are next in the hopper to go the way of the Sony Walkman (in order from lowest amount in stock to highest).

  • 91 Citrus Yellow
  • 90 Grellow
  • 71 Pansy
  • 03 Paris Blue
  • 12 Char-gold
  • 20 Pearl
  • 02 Orchid
  • 97 Greige
  • 04 Sienna
  • 92 Raisin
  • 74 Violet
  • 05 Lavender
  • 15 Pale Persimmon

Now that you got all that, I did want to also share a Youtube Video of Pepper’s Schoolhouse from Quilt Market.   

And last, but not least, I wanted to share the New-Peppered-Cottons- Advice Sheet  March 2016 about how to work with Peppered Cottons written by none other than Pepper herself.  Please read carefully as she really knows her stuff.  Take my word for it.

That’s all she wrote folks.  Have a great week.  Don’t forget to apply lots of suntan lotion.

Until Next Week,

This is Studioe Scott Signing Off

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Unveiling Soldier S & Her Charity Of Choice

Before reading, please make sure to read the previous blog so you can have a full understanding of what has transpired prior to this blog here.  Oh yeah, and happy belated Memorial Day!http://studioefabrics.net/blog/

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Let me preface this blog with a couple of general comments.  I am absolutely loving this story because it is real.  Unfortunately, this industry is currently lacking a real story with some positive undertones and good vibes, so this is definitely welcomed.  To the contrary, the buzz in our industry of late has been pretty depressing.

RealLogo_White

Despite coming up with promotions and contests around the American Honor line, please note that my family and Jaftex Corp., are not just in this for profit. We are putting our money where our mouths are with a $1000 donation to America’s Mighty Warriors.  In addition, we are going to have a matching gift.  This is where we will match all gifts made by others in our industry up to $5000.  So for example if quilt shops and consumers donate $4000 in total, we will match those gifts.  So $4000 becomes $8000.  Ideally, we would love to donate the $5000 and in effect have raised $10,000.  If you do make a donation to America’s Mighty Warriors and want us to match it, please email me at scott@jaftex.com  a copy of the email receipt.

charity

I know that this story hit home for many because I received over a dozen comments on my blog which is probably the equivalent to like a couple hundred for someone else’s blog in our industry.  This is due to the fact that no one ever comments on my blog for some odd reason, but apparently people are reading because they tell me they are.  The joke is that I probably got more comments on this blog than all the blogs I have ever written put together excluding spam of course.  So anyway, without further ado, let me introduce you to the amazing Soldier S.  Soldier S is:   

scarlett

Scarlett Wells, Owner of The Fabric Cobbler                                                 324 E Ruehl St, Forsyth, IL 62535                                                              217-853-4629
scarlett@thefabriccobbler.com
www.thefabriccobbler.com
www.facebook.com/thefabriccobbler
Twitter @thefabriccobbler
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHb3S41vq9OJ06WmfKJ7THQ             Specialist In The Tennessee Army National Guard and in the active Army during deployment.  1174th TC Unit out of Dresden, TN.  

From here, I think I am going to leave the rest of the story to Scarlett.  So here are some snippets from the emails that were exchanged between Scarlett and I:

Here is the charity I’ve chosen Scott:
http://americasmightywarriors.org/

Here is why Scarlett chose the charity.  “I wanted to select a charity that maybe doesn’t always receive the attention some of the big names attract. I’ve always held a special place in my heart for the little guys, whether rooting for underdogs in sports or supporting small businesses.  Over time, the community built by my quilt shop has become known for random acts of kindness.  We often adopt people and serve as secret Santa’s for those who need it the most.  Clients online and locally will gift fabric or account credits anonymously to people they don’t even know, all in the name of paying it forward and helping another person smile through the gift of fabric.”

americas-mighty-warriors

“I thought long and hard about the charity I would select. When I read that America’s Mighty Warriors has a program specifically dedicated to Random Acts of Kindness, I knew that I had to choose this organization. I instinctively placed my right hand over my chest as I read about Marc’s last letter home to his mom explaining just what I’ve said so many times in my own shop: our world would be a far better place indeed if we all just stopped for a moment to help another person, for no other reason than to brighten their day, make them smile, and pay it forward. Marc was the first Navy Seal to be killed in Iraq and his mom has carried on his torch through America’s Mighty Warriors. I pray that the donation offered in my name will help her and the organization honor troops and their families with more Random Acts of Kindness.”

Randon-Acts-of-Kidness

I couldn’t have said it better than Scarlett.  After hearing what Scarlett has said, there is nothing more that I want to do than make a difference for America’s Mighty Warriors in honor of the amazing Scarlett.  Scarlett did write a bunch more in her email to me.  In particular, without going in to too much detail, Scarlett has clarified that 7 of the 9 kids in her family were in the military and not all 9 as I had originally thought.  In addition, you should know that Scarlett joined the military at the early age of 17 to make her parents proud of her. You should read about her recollection of finding out she would be deployed:

“I’ll never forget the moment in Basic Training when the twin towers fell.  We were at one of our EOCT sites (end of cycle training).  Our drill sergeants were so solemn.  It just didn’t register for so many of us that morning that we really were under attack.  I knew then at 18 years old that I’d be going to war at some point.  I was actually in my college classroom about to start class for the morning when I received the call that I had 24 hours to sign over my life to my parents and get my affairs in order.  We didn’t actually fly out to Iraq for another three and a half months, but we only had that day to prepare and then report for duty to begin the arduous pre-deployment process.”

And now hear what goes through Scarlett’s mind post-service and her challenges with PTSD.  There is no doubt in my mind that this goes through the minds of many soldiers post war:

“I’ve thought so many times in the 12 years after I left the service:  why did I survive when others didn’t?  Why did I have PTSD after the war when so many others endured horrors far worse than I could personally imagine.  There aren’t really answers to those questions.  I was just a kid when I left.  You aren’t really an adult at 19 years old.  I heard some soldiers refer to being in Iraq as nothing more than our summer training in the California desert, while others absorbed every haunting moment of Iraq and internalized them.  I’ll personally never forget how it feels to know one of our own isn’t going home with us to his family.”

“I’ll never forget the nightmares that followed when I returned home, but more importantly, I’ll never forget the pride of wearing that uniform and knowing that I chose to be there.  I chose to serve.  I chose to take the chance that I might be one of those fallen.  I chose to take that solemn oath.  And yes, I came home, but so many didn’t.  And for them, it’s incredibly fitting to see that universally known image of a fallen hero on fabric. The line will give so many around the country quilts of comfort and will bring homage to the memories of those they will never hug again, at least not in this life.”

And finally, hear what Scarlett said to me about our encounter:

“I would also like to just once again say thank you Scott.  Thank you for giving a voice to the memory of fallen heroes.  I had no idea that my moments of tearful memories would lead to the story of Soldier S being made public.  As Soldier S, I want to thank you on behalf of my entire family.  You have honored us greatly and in ways beyond measure that we could have imagined.”

I hope you can now agree that this is truly an amazing story and probably the story of so many that remains untold or unheard.  Wouldn’t it be great if quilt shops around the US could honor their own Soldier S or Soldier A, B, C, D…..X, Y and Z?   So now that you have read this, the million dollar question is:  What are you going to do now that you have heard this story?  Please make me proud quilting community and share with us all the amazing ways that you are honoring our troops and Soldier S.

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God Bless America!

Blogger S

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