Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Market Review & Bits N’ Pieces

Happy Monday Everyone!

The time has come for yet another quilt market.  I am heading out this week and I am ready to sell some fabric….I just hope there are some people there who are actually there to buy fabric.  You never know.  I would have to say that this is probably around my 20th Quilt Market. Crazy!

bits and pieces

Instead of writing a blog on just one subject this week, I am going to discuss some Bits N’ Pieces which are short commentaries. Thereafter, I will do a thorough review as to what Studioe Fabrics & The Blank Quilting Corp. have in store for this upcoming quilt market.  I know this is my Studioe Fabrics blog, but I am also the President of The Blank Quilting Corp., so I would be remiss if I left them out.  Henry Glass is another company of ours, but they have done a pretty thorough job of covering what they have in store for this quilt market already on their social media sites and blogs. So make sure to check that out.

Henry Glass & Co., Inc.
www.henryglassfabrics.com

Last week in my blog, I discussed the fact that I would be having a meeting with Karey, President of Quilts Inc., to discuss what could be done to improve the quilt market and make it great again.  I made requests of my readers to provide some suggestions on how we could improve the quilt market.  I would be glad to present these ideas to Karey, but I was pretty disappointed that I only got one email.  The first time we were discussing changes to the quilt market way back when, I heard a lot more. So, if something is on your mind related to how quilt market could be made better, please email me at scott@jaftex.com.

8334P-77
This is the lead design for the American Honor line which is the basis of The Blank Quilting Corporation’s contest that starts November 1, 2016.

As I mentioned above, I am also the President of The Blank Quilting Corp. With that, I felt it was important to let you know about a great contest that The Blank Quilting Corp. is having.  The contest is called the American Honor Quilt Challenge.  The basis for the contest is that there is a new fabric line called American Honor by Tana Mueller of Western Denim and Dirt.  It is a very touching line in that it pays homage to America’s fallen heroes of war.  We are selling the fabric by the yard as well as fat quarter bundles which do include the 24″ color panel (see above) too.  The Blank Quilting Corp. will be at sample spree booths 36 and 37 and will be offering only the fat quarter bundles for the American Honor Quilt Challenge.  Every shop that buys any of the American Honor fabric will receive a counter card to help them advertise the contest in their shop. Entrants can use any or all of the American Honor fabric to make a project to enter in to the contest.  No other fabrics can be used though from any other company including Blank.  There are many more details to the contest, so check out this blog with all the details about the rules and prizes or contact your sales rep for more information.

day-off

Next week there will be no Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive blog because I will be at the Quilt Market.  I am sure that I will have a lot of new ammo to blog about after market, but I also wanted to take some time between now and the end of the year to rehash some of my favorite blogs from the past.  If you have some favorite blogs, please comment and let me know which your favorites were and I will reconsider reprinting it too.  Believe it or not, I have written over 125 blogs up to this point.  How exhausting!

international-quilt-market

Ok, so here is the low down on the quilt market.  First, I am going to provide you with the booth number details.

booth

  • Studioe Fabrics is at booth 1615 and that is the best place to find me.  I will be showing the A.E. Nathan Co., Inc. products there too.
  • The Blank Quilting Corp. is at booth 1619.
  • Henry Glass Fabrics is at booth 1614.
  • Fabric Editions is at booth 1616.
  • Air-Lite (the Studioe Fabrics batting partner) will be located at booth 1621.

Next, I am going to fill you in on the Studioe Fabrics & The Blank Quilting Corp. sponsored schoolhouses.  There will be free giveaways at all schoolhouses.

schoolhouse

  • From 2:30-2:45 in room 382a, Janice Pope of Anything But Boring (Studioe/Blank sales rep too) will be talking about Improving Your Customer’s Experience.
  • From 3:10-3:40 in room 362a, Pepper Cory, esteemed author, quilter and Studioe Fabric licensor will speak about Peppered Cottons, More Than Just Quilts!  Come check out some great apparel ideas to be incorporated with Pepper’s shot cotton line of Peppered Cottons.
  • From 3:45-4:15 in room 362f, Tana Mueller Of Western Denim & Dirt, a key licensor for The Blank Quilting Corp. will speak In Honor Of American Soldiers.  Here she will discuss the fabric line that is the basis for the contest discussed earlier on in this blog.
  • From 4:20-4:50 in room 362f, Janice Pope will discuss Secrets From Selvedge To Selvedge.

That about sums it up for this week.  If you are heading to Houston, I would welcome the opportunity to see you even if it is just to say hello.  So don’t be afraid to just stop by and say “Hey Scott!”  Safe travels!

Until next time,

Scott

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Let’s Try To Make Quilt Market Great Again….Together

For my loyal readers, you are all probably aware of my recent discussions on how we can all contribute to making our industry great again (this is like Trump’s motto to make America great again).  I am sure you are also aware of my past crusades where I have written against Quilt’s Inc. saying that they are sacrificing profit to the detriment of fabric vendors, fabric resellers and our industry in general.  In short, quilt market is losing its importance and people just don’t want to attend anymore, they can’t afford to or they just don’t have the time to.

bad-news

So, with that being said, I am throwing in the towel on the crusade and taking a new more positive and productive approach.  There is no doubt in my mind that if change comes to the quilt market that this too would go a long way in contributing to making our industry great again and making quilt market great again, for that matter.

we-need-change

So, what am I getting at?  You will be happy to know that I recently got an email from Karey Bresnehan of Quilt’s Inc.  She inquired about setting up a time to talk at market about none other than quilt market.  That is definitely a step in the right direction and a start.  All we need is some baby steps.  Now what you may be asking?

baby-steps

I am looking to my readers for their suggestions on how we can improve market in order to make people want and need to come to the show.  So, let’s bring it on!  Please be practical and realistic about your suggestions.  I have a bunch of my own ideas that I would like to discuss with Karey.  In addition, I plan to review reader comments to my previous blogs on the subject to see what ideas came up then too.

ideas-wanted

Some of the subjects that I would like discuss include the following:

  • Location….Maybe it is time for a new venue.  Houston is starting to get stale.  The venue could definitely contribute to drawing people in.  You know what they say, “location, location, location.”  Also, with respect to the venue, a non-union venue would probably help to keep costs down.

location-location-location

  • Incentives to get US shop owners and overseas distributors and shop owners to attend.

incentive

  • Lowering the cost of attending market.  The hotel and plane ticket prices are really getting outrageous.  The food isn’t cheap either.

lower-prices

  • Length of the show….maybe the show needs to be a little shorter in duration.

shorter

  • Dates of the show…maybe if the show isn’t on Halloween, that would help.  I sure know that I would love to spend that time with my kids.  As for the Spring market, maybe May isn’t the best time because a lot of people have graduations to attend.  Finally, with the way the shows are currently scheduled, it doesn’t make sense for any of the Jaftex Companies to release new lines at market.  We need to get them out nearly one month earlier.  In other words, if we first showed our lines at market, maybe more people would be inclined to come and be one of the first to see the lines.

let-me-know

Those are just a couple of the subjects that come to my mind and I am sure there are loads of other great ideas out there, so please bring them to my attention so that I can share with Karey.  This is not my personal crusade as I am only one person and this is about our entire industry.  All that I can do is try and get the dialogue going.  Whether anything actually improves will be up to Quilt’s Inc. unless the attendees speak first by deciding not to attend anymore and Quilt market ceases to exist, but that is a long way away.

predictions

Regardless of what I have said above, I am going to make some predictions about this market.

  • Overseas attendance will be down due to the rocky international financial markets.
  • Upfront purchasing from overseas customers will also be down.
  • US attendance will be down for all the usual reasons (high cost to attend, can’t be away from the shop, not necessary to attend anymore, etc.)
  • US customers will have a new excuse not to come and not to buy….the dramatic presidential election.
  • Vendors at market will continue to reduce the size of their foot print at market.  Fewer booths, fewer employees, etc.
  • Vendors will be walking around the show talking about how bad it is and continues to get.  Some may even say that it is a “waste of time.”  Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil.
  • Quilt’s Inc. will say the attendance is up, but we all know that it really isn’t up.  I think last year they said it was up by 2 people in the previous year.  Uh, huh?

Thank you in advance for sharing your ideas.  I look forward to hearing them all.  If you don’t want to keep your comments to be public, feel free to email me at scott@jaftex.com.  Hope to hear from you soon.

Until next time,

Trying To Make The Quilt Industry Great Again Scott

Teaching our craft to pass it on – a guest post from Pepper Cory

Pepper Cory has a few thoughts of her own following Scott’s post on Monday about mentoring. Follow along below.
Teaching and passing on a craft is a subject we hear a lot about, but often don’t do a lot about. And that’s too bad. When I learn about a quilt shop that doesn’t teach, I am sad to hear that.  Sooner or later, I’ll likely hear that shop’s gone out of business. As with most stores that supply and support arts and crafts, if you don’t teach, you miss your best opportunity for customer service and building customer loyalty. But teaching retail customers aside, in this posting the subject is a special kind of teaching, called mentoring. You may assume you understand what the word ‘mentoring’ means, but truly comprehending the term is worth a little consideration.

The term ‘mentoring’ is grounded in ancient history. The 8th century BC to be exact, when the poet Homer wrote Odyssey, the story of the wandering King Odysseus. When Odysseus leaves home, he entrusts the education and guidance of his son, Telemachus, to his tutor named  Mentor. The word crops up again in Elizabethan English and by the 1700s seems to have become an accepted word in the English language.
I have been lucky in that I have had several mentors in this business. Two older salesmen took me under their wings when I had a shop. They taught me about ordering and looking at the business records of the suppliers I dealt with. A more experienced quilter, in a kind and gentle way, made me realize I needed to expand my sewing skills and from her, I learned to piece curves and bind a double wedding ring quilt with all its weeny points. Another friend, who was a quilt collector, taught me to learn ‘with my hands’ as I felt the surface of a vintage quilt and determined how to recognize its age and origin.

Mentoring is different than simply teaching and also different than mothering–which is where many of us get into trouble when giving/receiving advice. We need more conscious mentoring in this industry. We need mentoring between older shop owners and younger people getting into the business. We need mentoring from shop owners to employees and from older, more experienced teachers, to newer teachers. Along the way, we might even be able to address some fringe issues. For instance, from time to time, you might have witnessed some irritation between traditional quilters and modern, as in MQG, quilters. Respectful mentoring could go a long way to heal that rift.

Once at Quilt Market, I was an uncomfortable observer of a spat between mother-daughter quilt shop owners. Predictably, the mom was saying, “My experience tells me that you ought to…” The girl wasn’t having any of it. She angrily shot back, “I’m so tired of the same old thing!“ This was not a working mentoring relationship. Perhaps the same young woman might have done better with a mentor who had experience but was NOT her mother. Mom might have been able to share words of wisdom (without sarcasm), if her protégé was not her own daughter.  How is the protégé (the person receiving mentoring benefits) described? If there’s a mentor, is there a ‘mentee’? According to some texts, mentee is indeed the right label for the advised person and certainly sounds less pretentious than protégé, so that’s the term I’ll use from now on.

How is the word ‘mentoring’ defined, especially as it relates to our business, in the craft and sewing industry. It literally means being a trusted guide and teacher. After a lot of reading on the subject, here’s an outline of four qualifications:

1) To be a quilt shop mentor, you have to have a mutual relationship with your mentee. A mentor isn’t assigned by a roll of the dice or chance. You may be friends with the family or have mutual interests. In other words, there’s reason and a history to the relationship. Both people involved must recognize, accept and want the relationship. You can’t hit someone over the head with your advice, even if you think it’s golden.

2) The relationship has needs to have respect on both sides. Some ground rules for an interchange between a mentor and a mentee are useful. These might include: meeting at a regular time and when talking also pausing and taking time to listen. Answering a specific question from a mentee rather than holding forth generally on a subject is a mentor’s task.  Both people need to stay focused on what the relationship’s about. Here’s what a mentor-mentee relationship is NOT about: your love life (yours or hers), money woes, political leanings and husbands/kids (yours or hers). Here are some subjects worth exploring: factual sharing of experience dealing with vendors, customer relations, how to deal with employees and setting up store policies.

3) It’s a good idea to mutually set a time limit on the mentor/mentee relationship, as in “Let’s revisit the subject of our relationship in six months and see if it’s worthwhile to us.” Just like completing a quilt needs a deadline, so too does the mentoring process need a time limit.

4) Discuss the issue of boundaries before getting started. Boundaries are for the good of your own relationship (“No, it’s not OK to text me after 11 PM at night-in fact I don’t text so let’s meet in person-“).  Above all, confidentiality ought to be sacred in a mentoring relationship or there’s no trust.

Speaking honestly, boundaries, or lack of them, are often at the root of female communication issues. When an older woman gives advice, it’s tempting to fall back into the “Mother says so” mode.  A younger person will likely reply in kid-speak “Don’t tell me what to do!” Very shortly thereafter, neither one is listening!

Every generation must, to some extent, rebel against what the parental generation has done. Consider the Modern Quilt Guild using terms like “not fussy, clean, straight-line quilting and negative space” to describe their quilt aesthetic. Don’t for a minute deny that they aren’t reacting against the every-bell-and-whistle style of some of our most accomplished quilt artists. Beading, trapunto, a riot of print fabric embellished with outrageous feather quilting comes to mind. You would be kidding yourself. But styles can co-exist and thank goodness we have traditional quilting, art quilting and modern quilting all going great guns right now. Finding ways to communicate is essential to the continued growth of this craft. For me, mentoring is an important bridge.
If you’re available to be a mentor, consider what you do best and present that talent as your gift. I’m good at marketing, addressing personal relations issues, teaching others how to teach and encouraging the shy student. I’m NOT good at financial projections, heading up production work or day-to-day shop maintenance. Warning: there will be some bumps along the way. A mentoring-mentee relationship will have its ups and downs. Roll with it—a mentor is as likely to learn from the experience as a mentee. Above all, stay open-minded.

What do you do well that you can pass on to someone just getting into this business? Think about becoming a mentor and experiencing the joy of passing on some of your knowledge to someone younger.

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Have You Considered Mentoring?

Just the other day, one of the Studioe Fabrics sales reps forwarded me this amazing article about mentoring kids about quilting.  It was written by Linda Thielfoldt of The Quilted Goose.  Here is a link to the article if you want to check it out for yourself: http://lindathielfoldtthequiltedgoose.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-sky-is-falling-in-quilt-universe.html?spref=fb

This was definitely a fresh angle on how to keep our industry alive and kicking.  I must say that it was the first that I had heard of this idea.  It had me wondering….why didn’t I think of that?  Right?

why-didnt-i-think-of-htat

Recently, I have been blogging about the issues of the quilt industry, but unlike some others, I don’t think that the quilting industry is going away. It just isn’t.  It just can’t.  And it just won’t.   A couple shops, a couple vendors, a couple publishers…..maybe, but no way is this industry going bye bye.  Well, at least not as long as I can help it.  Don’t mess with me!

mentoring

There have been loads of ideas tossed around about how to keep this industry alive and kicking, but none of them have stuck and gotten very far.  In fact, most that I recall have not withstood the test of time or much time at all for that matter.  In this day and age, everyone wants instant gratification and something like rebuilding an industry to the high number of participants as in the past is very challenging to say the least. We all just need to be patient and take some baby steps.  Mentoring could be that baby step that gets the ball rolling.

baby-steps

Anyway, let’s get back to this idea of mentoring and some things that everyone can do.  I think if the vendor community and the quilt shop community could start to promote this idea of mentoring that we could make a dent at starting to rebuild those quilting numbers back up to where they were in the last decade.  The possibilities are endless.  Shop owners could reach out to the local schools to see if some of the students are interested in getting a mentor.  Or family members could just mentor the younger generations.  Shops could even have mentoring classes. Mother and daughter.  Grandmother and granddaughter.  Father and son. And so on.  This really shouldn’t be that difficult to get going.  We just have to find willing and experienced quilters that have the patience to share their wealth’s of quilting knowledge with today’s preoccupied and distracted youngsters (I am speaking from experience with my own kids.)

share_the_wealth_1474230

Usually, at about this point, I come up with some way to promote this idea of mentoring.  But I want to give some more thought to an idea that could get this ball rolling in a meaningful way.  Maybe a contest.  Maybe a charity blanket drive. Maybe a quilt line with some beginner level projects for mentor classes.  Something that would be fun for the mentor and the mentee.  So give me a little time to come up with something with my team.  But in the meantime, it is in all of our best interests to try to promote this idea on our own to keep the industry alive and our businesses prospering.  Together, we can make a meaningful difference as long as we are all willing to give it a shot and be creative.togetherWhat do you think?  You have any good ideas?  Have you considered mentoring?  I would love to hear all about it.  Please share your comments. This blog is to be continued at another time.  Stay tuned, but in the meantime, don’t stop brainstorming.  I would love to hear your ideas and help you to promote them.

Until Next Time,

Studioe Scott

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Please Forgive Us!

Dear Friends,

This past weekend my family went to Disney.  Needless to say, I am tired, tired and more tired.  It was so hot…especially for October.  Nonetheless, we did it and we survived.  God bless my wife for some excellent planning.  My kids had the greatest time ever.  In fact, I just finished putting my little guy to sleep crying because he misses Disney so much already.  I guess that is the sign of a successful trip.  I am still recovering from the sweats that I endured from all those roller coasters especially that Everest one that goes backwards when you least expect it in the dark nonetheless.  It stinks to get old.

disney

On a totally different note, this weekend was the beginning of the Jewish New Year when we celebrate Rosh Hashanah.  Next week we begin Yom Kippur which represents the Jewish day of atonement.  Each year around this time, I do my business atoning blog.  Sorry for being lazy, but it is important for me to repeat these apologies again and again.  One can never apologize enough when wronging another person and everyone should know that it is never too late to apologize….in my opinion.  So I am going to do just that with that hope that you can accept my apology and we can start the Jewish New Year fresh….even if you aren’t Jewish.  I am not the most religious person in the world, but do have full respect for all religions, races and people.  That being said, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are holidays where I do go to temple to pray, atone for my sins and celebrate the Jewish New Year (except this year because of Disney….sorry!)  This year is 5777.

5777

Yes, I know, you can’t believe that I sin.  Well, believe it or not, I am unfortunately not as perfect as I appear.  (This is where you are supposed to laugh).  Moving on.  Anyhow,  I am gearing up to apologize for the sins that my family business may have committed against you.  Mind you, I personally do not like to hold grudges and hope that you don’t either as life is just too short to hold on to grudges.  So before I start laying on the apologies, if you plan on reading it, you will be inherently accepting the apologies from me and the companies run by my family (Studioe Fabrics, The Blank Quilting Corp., Henry Glass Fabrics, A.E. Nathan Co., Inc. & Fabric Editions).

sorry

FOR:

delivery

Late deliveries.

Early deliveries.

Deliveries to the wrong address.

Damaged boxes.  Even though that is usually the shipping company’s fault, but don’t tell them that I blamed them.

damaged-box

Short shipping.

Over shipping.

Backorders.

Not meeting your delivery requirements.

credit

Not giving you credit.

Giving you too much credit.

Not charging your credit card soon enough.

Charging your credit card too late.

Shipping 10s, 11s, 12s, 13s, 14s, 16s, 17s, etc. when you wanted a 15 yard cut.

Shipping an entire collection minus the lead pattern.

service

Not returning your call or email quickly enough.

Not following your explicit instructions.

Messing up the free project instructions.

Giving you misinformation.

Not getting you an invoice soon enough.

Being rude if that is how you interpreted the New Yorker’s in us and in me especially.

new-york-attitudeIgnoring you.

Nagging you.

Whatever we may have done to have wronged you.  (blanket listing)

I could go on and on with potential reasons to be apologizing, but I think you get the drift.  If you think of an apology that I have not listed, please consider it listed under the blanket listing or add it in the comments section and I will include it next year.  Like most businesses, we do try hard to improve our business each and every day and this is just another step in the right direction.

right-direction

I am confident that this atonement is just one additional step toward improving our business relationship with you.  So please accept my most heartfelt apology for any harm we may have done to you.  Moreover, if there is something bothering you about any of our companies, please let me know so that I can try to fix it.

Thank you for listening and thank you for accepting my apology.  And let us all say together, “Amen to that Scott.”  I am looking forward to a strong finish to 2016 and hope the same for you.  Happy Jewish New Year to those that celebrate. Thanks for your partnership and friendship.

Sincerely,

Now Sin-free Scott

PS…and we accept your apology too!  LOL!