Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Digital Printing

At Jaftex, we have been watching the digital printing fabric trend very closely over the last year or so, but opted to stay on the sidelines.  I know others have been watching too as I see more and more articles on the subject and am starting to hear a lot of chatter.  At first, the digital printing started out with companies digitally printing projects and designs on a small scale.  This served as a simple and quick marketing tool to help shops sell fabric and save them time from having to make time consuming store samples.  In addition, some companies were using the digital printing as an easy way for their sales reps to have fabric samples to show to customers so they could get the gist as to how the line would really look when printed on fabric.  A couple of the braver companies even went as far as offering an entire line comprised of digital prints.  There is no doubt that this was a risky investment, but I am pretty sure that it paid off in spades for the groundbreakers.

Digital-Printing-1

This all being said, the times they are a changin’ and we have determined that the time is right for us to finally get involved with the digital printing trend.  Early on when digital printing hit our industry, digitally printed lines were sold at a very high premium i.e. $1-$3 above typical Korean line pricing.  My understanding is that most of these companies were doing their printing in Pakistan, China and to a lesser degree in Korea.  These lines were really quite beautiful and filled with so many colors.  Of note, regular print mills can only use a maximum of 18 colors in a print, so digital was a real game changer with limitless colors.  We were hesitant to jump on the bandwagon early on because we found it hard to rationalize charging such a premium when shops were even struggling with the pricing of non-digitally printed lines.  Nobody really knew if consumers would be willing to pay around $14-$20/yard for digital fabric.

dip toes

Fast forward to today, and the Jaftex companies are starting to dip their toes in to the game.  For starters, we are having several of our quilt projects digitally printed in the US like a cheater quilt to serve the following purposes:

  • For reps, it is a good way to show how nice the quilt project will look when finished.  The nice thing about this is that the rep can quilt and embellish the preprinted panel to show shop owners that the possibilities are endless and this item will help sell fabric when it is hanging up in a shop.  A lot of people want quilting projects spoon fed to them because they just don’t have the time to come up with such an elaborate project.  This will definitely help to serve that purpose.
  • The sales rep can sell these preprinted projects to the shop as a marketing tool or the shop can buy the preprinted projects to sell to customers.  It could serve as a great tool in teaching consumers how to quilt.
  • In some cases, the shop owner can earn the preprinted project for free as a reward for buying a full collection.  In other words, it is an added bonus to help shops market the line for which they have so heavily invested.

falling-prices11

Aside from the preprinted projects, the pricing of printing digital fabric in Pakistan has come our way enough so that we are ready to start printing quilting lines digitally.  This is a pretty exciting time and we might look back one day and say how digital printing changed the entire quilting industry.  That is yet to be determined.  In any case, you can expect to start seeing printed quilt lines and 108″ wide quilt backing produced from the Jaftex companies digitally.  Moreover, the digital process will allow us to sell more of the digitally printed lines and the non-digitally printed lines off of actual fabric as opposed to selling the lines off of color printed cad cards.  You can keep your eyes out for this. You can also expect to hear me blogging more on this subject as time passes and we get the opportunity to see how this trend pans out for our companies.  Until then, we will just have to wait and see.  Please tell me about your experiences with digital and let me know what you think the future will bring.

Until September,

This Is Studioe Scott

PS…I will be skipping out on the Labor Day blog so have a nice long weekend!

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Car Fabric

In spite of my recent random act of kindness (RAOK) blogs having a really good feeling about them for me and hopefully you, I have decided to move on as two blogs on the subject were probably enough.  I was however tempted to go back to the RAOK and mention all the random acts of kindness that I saw at the Olympics among competing athletes from different countries.  Needless to say, the kindness, professionalism, humbleness, good sportsmanship and heart showed very much in the Olympics. It was really touching and brought tears to my eyes to see such awesome sacrifices.  It was fantastic to witness and should be a lesson to all, especially kids.

So moving on to today’s subject at hand:  car fabric.

car fabric

No silly!  I don’t mean car fabric that has cars on it.  That would be a really short blog.  The car fabric that I am talking about is fabric that we send from the warehouses directly to our reps to sell directly to the quilt shop owners.  It usually includes assorted non-standard bolts (i.e. not 15 yards) and precuts.  This has proven to be a very effective way for us to sell fabric.  There are so many positives for the customers, reps and the company.

car fabric

For the customers, it is an opportunity to get some instant gratification because there is no waiting whatsoever.  Maybe it helps to fill a void on the shop’s color wall.  Maybe the shop didn’t want to buy an entire bolt of the fabric and he/she was happy to get an 8 yard bolt.  Maybe the shop owner didn’t want to wait because he/she had an event coming up.  Of course, you can’t forget the fun of walking outside to look in someone else’s trunk to see what goodies they have.  I am sure there are many other positives, but the biggest one of all is probably that you don’t have to pay any freight.  As you know, freight is one of the most challenging costs to overcome for a shop owner these days.  We, the company, are paying all the freight to get the fabric to the rep.

free freight

Please note that car fabric is not intended to be a replacement for regular ordering, but rather, this is supposed to be in addition to that.  Therefore, you won’t be able to request fabrics from your sales person to get in their car, but instead you are left to select from the random assortment the rep has.  Sorry to disappoint you!

sorry

For the exclusive sales rep, the car fabric is also a good thing especially if he/she has a big car.  As it is, several reps are not carrying car fabric because they either don’t have a big car or don’t have a place to store the fabric.  In any case, it is an opportunity for the rep to get an instant sale. This is contrary to how most of our business is done as we typically pre-sell our lines for future deliveries.  In other words, you might buy a line this month, but it won’t ship until 5-8 months down the road.  So now the rep gets this sale today and will earn a commission for that sale the next month.  This is definitely great for the rep because it isn’t cheap to be a road warrior and it is important for them to have various streams of income.

income streams

Finally, for the company there are two very clear positives.  For one, we have a new manner to move fabric which results in an instant billing. Number two, it helps us to sell all the odd sized bolts that result from cutting so much fabric so often.  To elaborate a little, when the fabric comes in from overseas and is cut up, every bolt does not end up being a perfect 15 yard bolt.  It may be at the end of the roll and there may only be 7 yards left, so that gets put on a bolt and we still need to sell it.  You would be truly amazed if you saw how many short bolts we have to deal with on an annual basis.  Speaking of which, if you are ever looking for short bolts, please reach out to me.

So that is the story with car fabric.  Not a bad idea, huh?

Have a great week!

Studioe Scott

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: The Beauty Of Random Acts Of Kindness Revisited

Hi Fans & Followers,

This August heat is starting to wear me down.  This past weekend was over 100 degrees both days and felt more like 110.  My brain is so fried that I just can’t bear to come up with an extremely thought out blog, but I can come up with a thoughtful one.  That being said, I did want to revisit a recent blog that I wrote called:  The Beauty Of Random Acts of Kindness.  

Randon-Acts-of-Kidness

So in the blog that I am referring to, I asked readers to nominate someone that they know that they think is deserved of getting a random act of kindness (RAOK) in fabric.  For me, I received a lot of comments on my blog which is always a good thing, but all the people that commented on the blog also sent me a personal note about the person they wanted to nominate.  I must say that I was rather shocked with how kindhearted people are.  I received some very thoughtful RAOK requests and I teared up when reading many of them.  Everyone has a story and a lot of people struggle in various aspects of their lives.  There are also a lot of people out there that help others before helping themselves.  I was so overwhelmed with emotion reading all these pleas.  In the end, after reviewing all the requests, I determined that every single one should get a RAOK in fabric.

winner

Just the other day, I sent almost 20 packages out with precut fabric in them from Studioe.  Nowhere in the letter did I tell the RAOK recipients who nominated them. So if you were one of the people that made a request, feel free to contact your “friend” in the next week or so to let them know that you selected them….if you want.  Or, don’t say anything and it will just remain random which is perfectly fine too.  In the end, it doesn’t really matter and it is just the thought that counts.

thoughts

This RAOK discussion is so interesting to me that I keep testing it out on a daily basis.  Even on a small scale, the results always shock me because some people, especially New Yorkers, are a little shocked that someone would do something nice for them.  In short, I can only suggest that you try to share some RAOK love.  You will be shocked by the results and will also feel good about yourself having done something nice for someone else….who didn’t even expect it.  Try it out and let me know what happens.  Would love to see your stories on the comments to this blog.

Until next week,

This is RAOK Scott Fortunoff

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: The Charity Gift That Keeps On Giving

Both of my parents are turning 70 this year.  Every year the family goes through the same struggle of figuring out what gifts to get them.   Of course, this year is a big birthday, so we need to step things up a little bit, right?  Enough of the belts, night gowns, gift cards, wallets, scarves and other material things that are here today and gone tomorrow.  This year it was time for a gift that keeps on giving.  I am sure you want to know what it is already, right?

gift

I recently joined the board of the local JCC where I live.  In light of this, our company has started to send the JCC fabric to be used however they deem appropriate.  This got me thinking, and after speaking with my siblings and some of the leadership at the JCC, this is what we came up with (title/description):

The Andrea & Robert Fortunoff Art For Community Program

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.

Just the other night, we went out to celebrate my mom’s birthday at a local Greek restaurant and revealed this new program to my parents.  I think they were very surprised and they thought it was so cool to have this program named in their honor.  Not only that, but to think that this program could be around for decades to come even makes it that much more special.  In essence, this is the gift that keeps on giving back to our local community.  Moreover, this is definitely something our family can be very proud to be a part of.  I look forward to seeing how this program develops and hope to be able to report some feel good stories to you on this front for many years to come.  In the meantime, if you check out a recent blog of mine, you could see one of the first Art For Community Events.

Enjoy the rest of August!

Scott

“Dear Santa” Advent Calendar with Pockets

Today is a guest post from blogger Julianne Walther, of Cary Quilting Company in Cary, NC. They have used the advent calendar from the Dear Santa line from Studioe, and illustrated below how to put the pockets on! Thank you for sharing Julianne!

Scott will be returning to this spot next Monday morning.

Creating an Advent Calendar with Pockets

Hi there!

We have a fun panel to create an Advent Calendar in the shop, and instead of using the directions printed on the panel, we came up with what we think is a better way to create it!  We want to share our tutorial with you now:

It starts with this panel by Sarah Fredericking for Studio E:

You’ll need a yard of backing fabric.  We used Andover’s Whisper Palette, White Asterisks on Gray.

To finish, you’ll need 1/4 yard of binding fabric.  We used Dear Santa Candy Stripe, which is a coordinate of the panel.

You’ll also need a scrap of batting and some ribbon.

To begin, cut the panel into two halves. Take the right half (the side with no breaks between the numbered sections), and a similarly sized piece of your backing fabric, and put those two ironed pieces of fabric right sides together.  It’s helpful if your backing fabric is light colored, so that it won’t show through, especially on the “13” pocket.

Now, carefully sew 1/4″ inside of each block, leaving a 1.5″ opening for turning on a SIDE of each block.

Once you’ve sewn all of the blocks, carefully cut them apart, and trim the corners to reduce bulk when you turn them right sides out.

Turn each block right sides out, and press them, pressing the open seams in where you turned the block (so that it looks finished).  A Purple Thang is the perfect tool for getting your corners to, well, corner.

We quilted our panel’s “left side” with the batting and other half of the backing fabric before adding the pockets.  We thought it looked nice, and it also made it easier to sew the pockets on, without worrying about puckers or folds in our backing fabric.

Next, line up each pocket on top of its printed location, and sew down the sides and bottom, being sure to back stitch at the top corners to keep your pockets strong. This top-stitching will also close up the hole you used when you turned the pockets right sides out.

We bound our quilt, and as the directions suggested, we finished with two ribbons to hang the calendar quilt.  We hope you enjoy making one as much as we did!