Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: The Deal Of A Lifetime!

Hello Friends!

It happened!  The rumors are all true!  Yes, my family is buying FreeSpirit in the deal of a lifetime.  While I was out enjoying vacation with my wife and kids for school break, my dad, Robert (3rd generation), and brother, Greg (4th generation), pulled off what I think will be our most pivotal acquisition ever (we have had around 15-20 companies under our Jaftex umbrella in our 88 years in business.)  They put this all together on their own in record time because they wanted me to not be bothered on my family vacation.  That is what a family business is all about.  With support staff, lawyers, accountants and the lovely and professional team at Coats, they pulled a rabbit out of a hat.  Bravo guys!

It’s not everyday that you get a chance to buy one of the premier players in the industry.  I mean, where do I even start?  Kaffe Fassett and his collective!  Boom!   Tula!  Anna!  Amy! (Omg, I can’t wait to meet them all!) Also, there is The Original Morris & Co.!  I can keep going, but you don’t need me to tell you because these are your idols.  These people are quilting royalty or “machers” as I like to call them.  For all those that watch the Saturday Night Live Coffee Talk series, I must say that I am completely and utterly verklempt (in Yiddish that means a person that is so overwhelmed that they can’t speak.) I mean, over the top excited and I don’t even know where to begin.  This is going to give our family so much credibility as an industry leader.  We are now in an ideal position to push the #sewrevolution agenda and quilting for the fifth and sixth generations of Fortunoffs.

Henry Glass!  Studioe!  Blank Quilting!  Scott’s Free Sewing Machines!  Fabric Editions & A.E.  Nathan Co., Inc.! #sewrevolution!  All of our partners in the US and worldwide including Stof of Denmark, Sykel Fabrics, Air-Lite Batting, Oasis Fabrics, 3 Wishes, Quilter’s Palette & Ellie’s Quiltplace of Belgium.  All of our employees.  All of our sales reps.  I hope I didn’t leave anyone out….sorry if I did.  This is just so exciting.  I hope it is very clear that we are committed…..to the insane asylum….did I say that out loud?  But seriously, if this doesn’t show the world how we feel about this amazing industry, I just don’t know what will.

So without boring you to death, let’s jump right to the chase.  FreeSpirit is back and is going to be better than ever.  The sales reps will have loads of beautiful fabrics to show.   We will be at Quilt Market in Portland.  We will be at the VDTA Show.  If you are wondering if we will be there, the answer is yes, yes and yes again.

I welcome with open arms the opportunity to add FreeSpirit to our stable of well known brands.  I am going to learn a lot from this company and that is an exciting prospect for me as I grow as a fourth generation textile executive.  I am always pushing to be a better businessman and this deal will certainly help to propel me to the next level.

We are blessed to have retained most, if not all, of the licensing talent and the staff at FreeSpirit.  We are just under a new and improved management.  There will be some changes no doubt, but those changes will focus on managing costs better and letting people know that FreeSpirit is here to stay and is as stable as ever.  You could rely on us, our basics, our quality, our top notch designers and designing, our team, me, my family and so much more.  I could go on and on, but I know I had you at “hello.”  Please help to welcome the FreeSpirit team to the Jaftex team!

Thanks for your support.

Scott, proud son and brother.

P.S.  What do you have to say about that?

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Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: The Roads Are Endless For Scott’s Free Sewing Machines

My favorite poem of all time is the Road Not Taken (you can listen to it here).  I always like to revert back to this poem because it is very relevant in life and especially in my life.  Of late, I think about the different roads that Scott’s Free Sewing Machine project has taken me down and it is truly remarkable because without the adventures, I would be on the same old boring path.  Remember happy boring Scott?  Life is too short to just be on auto-pilot down the same path day in and day out.  Sometimes you just gotta mix things up and stir the pot.

Let’s talk about the roads.  The first road I was taken down was the road to Freedom Place in Houston.  This was all thanks to Linda Yarrow for her request for a machine to help find a creative outlet for the residents (young sex trafficking victims) of Freedom Place.  To be honest, I think that this road I was taken down changed my life forever.  It opened my eyes to the barbaric ways of some people in our society and it touched my heart so badly that I couldn’t sit there and not try to help.  So I helped and helped and I will continue to help.  In short, aside from providing fabric and financial support, I helped to facilitate Freedom Place getting 17 sewing machines so all of their residents would have their own machine thanks to SVP (Singer Viking Pfaff–10 machines) and my BFF Joanne (7 machines).

Another eye-opener on the Freedom Place front was when my new friend, Jennifer, who works at the Freedom Place, spoke at a dinner that Jaftex hosted at quilt market for about 30 people.   After Jennifer spoke, there was not a dry eye in the room, but in spite of it being very sad to hear, it made everyone in that room want to help those youngsters being sex trafficked. Trust me when I tell you that no one will forget what Jennifer said that night.

Let’s talk about another road.  How could I forget the #sewrevolution?  The sewing revolution that I have been promoting would not have been a thing if I didn’t start giving away free sewing machines.  The idea just popped in to my head one day that if there are more sewing machines being used, more people will be quilting and sewing and this will help reverse the negative trends in the fabric industry.  So why not promote it as such?  This byproduct of the free sewing machine giveaway is such a noble cause because it is helping to keep this industry alive and kicking…an industry that my family has been involved with since the early 1900’s.  It may seem selfish of me, but this is my livelihood and I need to do what I can to support it and keep it alive and kicking for as long as possible.  All those future generations of Fortunoff’s are going to need jobs.  And I do love my job.  I do love seeing the beautiful things that people create with fabric.  I do love seeing the smile on people’s face when they see our fabrics.  I love selling fabric.  I love the kind people in our industry.  If that isn’t enough to try to keep this baby alive, I don’t know what is.  Are you with me?

There are just so many roads that I don’t know which should be discussed next.  OK, let’s talk about my friend Emelia.  When I select sewing machine recipients, I only ask 2 simple things of them in return for the machine:

  1.  Pay it forward.
  2. Share photos with me of the machine and all that is being made because I want to feel good about having chosen each recipient.

Anyway, with respect to #2 (sharing photos), Emelia is my star.  In fact, she is becoming a staple on all the Jaftex social media sites.  Every time that she makes something we post the pictures.  All the social media followers are getting a lot of joy out of watching Emelia grow with the help of her new sewing machine.  They are all cheering her on and being so supportive…it is amazing.  She is now being commissioned to do work and getting paid.  She is taking lots of classes.  She is going to work with me to try to create a local kids club of young quilters and we are discussing so much more.   Emelia talks about working at Jaftex one day which would be so cool if it really happened.  In addition, Blank Quilting is going to honor her by naming a line after her. In any case, to say that she is a changed person for the better because of fabric and a sewing machine would be a major understatement.  And this folks is why we need to keep promoting all the great art that can be produced with fabric.  Keep up the good work Emelia.  Thank you for being such an inspiration.

Oh the roads….there are so many and will be so many more.  For me, the road that I most cherish is the photographs of all the recipients smiling with their machines.  I just can’t get enough of that because a photo speaks a million words.  But it is not just the words, it is the future possibilities that arise because of a new sewing machine, because of fabric and because of our amazing fabric industry.

These are all my new roads and there are lots of other endless ones ahead.   So, we continue the march down the untraveled roads.   Hopefully you will continue to join me to see the surprises that lie ahead around each corner.

Have a great week.  Happy President’s Day!



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Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: .COM Confusion

Not too long ago I got an email that opened my eyes to the madness of what is occurring on the internet these days.  In the email, the customer was writing to me asking how it was possible that a Studioe fabric was being sold on walmart.com?  My first reaction was, “No Way.”  So I clicked on the link and low and behold, one of the Studioe fabrics was in fact being sold on walmart.com despite Studioe products being for Quilt Shops Only (read:  not for big box retailers).

Allow me to explain.  In spite of the products being sold on the walmart.com site, it was not being offered by Wal-mart per se.  It appears that like Amazon, Ebay and all these other selling sites that Wal-mart has a place where people can post their own items for sale and they of course take their cut of the sale.  This is not unusual at all and goes on all the time these days.  With that being said, before you come after me for selling Studioe to chain stores in the US, delve a little deeper and you will learn that not everything is what it appears to be.  Just to confirm, Studioe is not sold to any of the big box retailers.

While I am discussing this, I might as well mention another interesting thing about the internet.  You could go to a site like sears.com and you may see some fabric offered (not from any of our Quilt Shop Only Companies).  In this case, the fabric is truly being offered by Sears.  However, Sears is not stocking the items.  They are just offering it and if someone buys the fabric, Sears has a company like Notions Marketing ship the product to the customer.  Sears makes a little cut of the profit and so does Notions Marketing.  What this boils down to is that Sears is using their website real estate to just try to sell as much stuff as they can without having to take stock in an item.  It is kind of like free money if you ask me because it didn’t cost Sears much more than the space that the offer was taking up on its website.  The internet presents lots of ways to make money without having to make big investments and this is just another one of those.  If you have a nice idea like this one, please make sure to let me know.

Have a great week.

Setting The Record Straight Scott

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Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: YES!

I am taking the easy route this week with a recycled blog.  I just love this one and I think about it just about every single day including in my house with the kids.  So far we started the year with the no complaining diet.  I would say this blog too portrays another great potential New Year’s resolution.  If you haven’t followed my lead on “YES” in the past, no time is better than now.  Just try this…you too will realize how liberating it feels to say YESSSS!

No!  No!  No!  That dirty little word has be driving me crazy lately because I have been hearing way too much of it from people that should be saying YES!  YES!  YES!  I am hearing this from suppliers, vendors, publishers, employees, reps and so many others.  I just don’t get it.  I am not sure if the people are just being lazy or that it is just their nature, but from me, I can promise you a YES!  99.9% of the time.

What kind of business practice would it be to say NO?  A stupid one in my opinion.  The thing that bothers me even more is that when I ask “why not?” the answer is really nothing more than a really lame excuse.  I could live with a legitimate excuse.  I am not big on excuses though and typically ignore them because all they are is excuses.  So in my quest for yes answers, I relentlessly press the NO-sayers to try to get them to a yes answer.  I end up hearing more excuses and it makes me consider whether I want to continue to do business with a NOer (someone who always says NO!).  Who really needs it when I can probably easily find someone else that will say yes?

I frequently get calls, emails and letters with all sorts of requests and like I said, 99.9% of the time I say yes.  To say yes is rewarding.  People are sometimes shocked at the lengths I will go to in order to make something happen.  But this is an amazing quality and this will make people want to continue to work with me and continue to do business with my family of companies.  You would truly be surprised how often I get thank you emails, calls and letters.  People even stop me at quilt market and say, “you were so kind to have done so and so.”

Without harping on my successes of being a yes man, I have one simple request:  stop saying no! and start saying YES!  YES! YES!  You too will be thanking me as it is never too late to turn over a new and simple leaf like this one.  You will be proud you did.  Am I right or what?

Yes Man Scott

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