Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Always Building Partnerships & Friendships Too!

Happy Monday Friends/Partners!

The other day I got an email from a FreeSpirit customer who expressed an interest in maintaining and improving upon her relationship with the new FreeSpirit management.  My answer to that is YES, YES & YES again!

In this industry, I find the people to be super friendly and kind which is such a breathe of fresh air.  This is the opposite from my legal and stock trading careers….to some extent.  With that, please know that we too want to build our friendship and partnership with you.  We want to meet you.  We want to talk to you.  We want to get to know you.  We want to be there for you when you have a problem.   We want to hear all about it when you have a great success story too.  It’s a very simple concept and you can count on us to have your back and be there for you the whole way through.

The catch is that you need to reach out to us to get the ball rolling.  If you come to one of our booths at the Quilt Market, we of course will make all efforts to welcome you and say hello.  If we see you at one of our sponsored schoolhouses, we will definitely say hello and give you a warm welcome.  On the other hand, if you see me or my brother, Greg, or my dad, or any of our employees in passing, the onus is on you to break the ice.  We will be nothing short of perfect gentlemen and women.  To put the onus on us to say hello to everyone might get a little overwhelming to say the least.  I think you get my drift.  To reiterate, we beg you to come over and say “hi” because that is where we need our long-term relationship to begin .  That’s all it takes to get the ball rolling.  After that, it should be smooth sailing.

Other ways to keep everything sailing smoothly with the Jaftex Companies include the following:

  1. It is critical that you pay your bills on time.  All of our companies are interconnected now so it is imperative to stay up to date on all payments.  Your failure to pay just one bill on time will get you all tied up and we don’t want that happening to you.  Moreover, coming June, we are moving to Milberg Factors Inc. and they will likely be stricter than our in house credit team.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
  2. It is imperative that you communicate problems with us asap.  Don’t be shy.  Don’t waste time.  If something is on your mind, get it out in the open and let’s deal with it right away.   Don’t let it fester and irritate you.   The sooner we handle it, the more likely we can resolve it.  With that, here is my contact information for you to use when you hit a dead end or you are not satisfied with a resolution.  Let’s agree here to elevate “big” issues to my attention and not the “small stuff” that you can resolve with our customer service reps if you know what I mean.

scott@jaftex.com    800-294-9495 x 218

That’s the important stuff in a nutshell.  Greg and I plan to be in this business for a very long time so there is no better time than now to get our long term partnership and friendship started.  To new friends, old friends, new partners and old partners!  Cheers!

Friendly Fortunoff

P.S……Here is where you can find my Executive Facebook page.

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This is the sewing machine I give away for free. Please feel free to purchase one, and give it away too! Or Recommend it! Or love it!

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Who Will Be Selling For The New FreeSpirit?

I have been getting a lot of questions about who will be selling the FreeSpirit Fabrics when we close the deal later this month.  I 110% recognize the need for a wider distribution.  Being that I am in charge of the sales side of our businesses, this is my priority and I will be studying this closely as we progress.  In the meantime, outside of a few changes discussed below, I am going to observe and then act accordingly when the decision becomes crystal clear.  The sales tell a story and I will let them lead the way.

US & CANADIAN REPRESENTATION

The majority of the current multi-line reps will continue selling in the US and Canada.  A few have had their territory expanded.  The biggest change though is that Liz Dougherty, who was the only house rep for FreeSpirit, will be promoted to Domestic Sales Manager.  She will continue to rep the lines too in N.C. (new), S.C. (new) and K.Y. (existing).  There are 4 brand new reps. There may be 5 if we find a West Virginia rep.  In due time, we will make a proper announcement about the entire sales team, so stay tuned.

Please read this part very carefully as I don’t want anyone to misinterpret what I am saying.

I am giving the existing Blank Quilting & Studioe Fabrics sales reps the opportunity to sell a handful of the FreeSpirit lines, known as the Signature lines from here on out.  Just a handful.  For May it is 5 lines and July it looks like around 6.   To be clear, the multi-line reps will have everything including the Signature lines.

Hear me out now please:  The problem that I see is that there is so much focus in sales meetings on Kaffe & crew, Tula, Amy, Anna Maria, all of their basics, and a handful of others, that the multi-line reps just don’t have sufficient time to cover it all and all of their other companies lines and do every designer the justice they deserve.  You can argue and tell me I am wrong, but this is the reality, as far as I can see it, and I am a realist.  The bottom line is that I want to give all designers a fair chance to sell.

FAIR CHANCE

I am confident this is a strong plan of attack.  When you see your Blank/Studioe rep, they will be very clear about what they are offering you from FreeSpirit.  To repeat, they WILL NOT be carrying the entire FreeSpirit line, just the Signature lines as described above.  This arrangement is not changing so please do not inquire about having your Blank/Studioe rep carry the entire line.  That is absolutely NOT part of the plan.  Sorry in advance if this is a disappointment as this is just a calculated business plan and we are sticking with it.  Feel free to email scott@jaftex.com with any questions or concerns you may have about this subject matter.

US & INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION

In the US, the only distributor continuing with the company will be Checker.  As for international, we are sticking with all the same overseas distributors.  Changes will be made as I see fit along the way.  I am hoping that with the changes that we implement that all distributors will be content and grow their businesses with our consistent support and methodical plan of action.  As mentioned in prior blogs, we are committed to getting FreeSpirit back on track and to making it one of the top fabric brands in our amazing industry.  Our goals are set!

If you haven’t heard, you should know that the sample cards for the newest lines will be shipped out the first week in May.  We are a month behind what used to be the regular FreeSpirit release schedule.  We anticipate that this will get right back on track before the end of the year.

Finally, I want to reiterate how excited my family and I are about this deal.  This is the deal of a lifetime and we consider ourselves to be very lucky that this business deal fell into our laps.  Everyone is working hard to cover all the bases and get the deal closed so we can best serve you, our valued customer.  We thank you for your patience during the transition as we all know it will take time for everything to be perfect.  From here on in, communication is critical, so if there is a problem, a concern, something on your mind, you need to make sure the proper people know including me.  You can always email me at scott@jaftex.com or call me at 800-294-9495 x 218.  There are no secrets anymore!

FreeSpirited & No Secrets Scott

P.S……Here is where you can find my Executive Facebook page.

P.S.S.… Also, please subscribe to my blog and get notifications when new blogs are posted.  Look up on the right side of this blog to register.

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This is the sewing machine I give away for free. Please feel free to purchase one, and give it away too! Or Recommend it! Or love it!

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Good Things Come To Those Who Patiently Wait For The New FreeSpirit!

I love to hear all the chatter and optimism surrounding the Jaftex purchase of FreeSpirit.   On Facebook, I saw someone said, “Good things come to those who wait” and I couldn’t agree more with that statement.

My family is in this for the long haul.  We are studying all aspects of the business to see what can be improved, simplified and streamlined.  I spent a bunch of time reviewing the surveys, that Coats compiled in 2017, to read what shop owners had to say about the business.  The info was very insightful.  There were a few common themes that will be tackled first.

You will be happy to know that we are doing all we can to level the playing field on pricing and shipping.  This is so critical for such a well known and highly visible brand.  That being said, make sure your payments are up to date to avoid shipping interruptions from any of the Jaftex companies.  If you are in arrears, you don’t have a strong leg to stand on when bringing non-shipping complaints to our attention. Many people were asking for invoices, those will be emailed and attached to shipments when we take over.

We will have to address distribution as time goes on as it seems too many shops are not being well-served, when in fact they want to order FreeSpirit.  We can’t afford not to reach every person that wants to order.  We are not too good for anyone, trust me.  If need be, we will figure out other reasonable means to sell to those customers that aren’t getting enough attention.  Please let me know if you have this problem:  scott@jaftex.com.

ALSO, in the news:

  • We are going to have a brand new website.
  • We will have a dedicated shipping facility.
  • We are adding more inspections at the precut facilities to ensure top quality.
  • We are focused on keeping your favorite basics in stock.  In fact, we have loads of basics in process as we speak, if they aren’t already on the boat.
  • We have a full team of multi line reps assembled to cover all states, but for West Virginia.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).
  • Domestic shipping will be faster as our international partners buy more fabrics directly from the overseas mills instead of buying from our US stock.
  • There will be plenty of inventory to cover regular orders so we can ship complete as often as possible.  We especially want to be stocked up when the line is initially shipped so everyone gets their proper allocation and no one is left in the dust.  We don’t want to mess up your planning whatsoever!

Some of the items being sold by the old FreeSpirit were being sold at below market prices.  Yeah, I know!  Sure Scott!  For example, everyone knows digital is more costly than regularly printed goods.  With that, we will be getting the digital pricing in line with the market.  The same goes for poplin lines.  Like digital, poplin is more expensive.  There are a couple other price changes, but in general we are not trying to fleece everyone with much higher prices across the board.  REMINDER:  We are providing you with a premium brand from world renowned designers and the overhead of maintaining such a stable of designers is not low.

The major transition and official takeover of FreeSpirit is quickly approaching.  I expect that everything should be wrapped up by May 1.  By the way, the company is now only known as FreeSpirit.  Short & sweet!

The next couple of months are going to be nothing short of crazy for my peeps.  Please please please be patient with both Coats and Jaftex.  Coats is still going to be shipping for themselves and then a little bit for us to keep things flowing.  Keep in mind that we have to move over 1000 pallets of fabric across the state.  Yes 1000 pallets!  (I will have to get some photos.)  We have to move everyone to a new office….over 20 people. We have to move and transfer all the technology.  We have to decorate and furnish the offices.  I can go on and on, but I am sure you get the drift.

It has been a pleasure to work with the Coats team.  Considering that the business was almost closed, everyone really rallied to turn it around.  I am very thankful to Coats and especially Keith Howard who is handling the lions share of the logistics for this deal.  I think Coats has acted very fairly, they have been fully respectful of the deal and extremely helpful in trying to do whatever it takes to maintain the reputation of this amazing brand.  You have no idea what a difference that makes.  Kudos to team Coats!

Looking ahead, you should expect to see the latest and greatest lines from FreeSpirit starting in early May.  We will have a major presence at market.  I am hopeful that you will come by to see the new lines and show your support of the resurrection of FreeSpirit.  Please contact your sales rep to set up an appointment at market.  If you don’t have a rep, please email me scott@jaftex.com and I will gladly help you out.

Let me wrap this up as it is getting very lengthy and I have hit on most of the major points.  Please know that there are a lot of moving parts with this deal.  We hope to have everything under control, but there are always surprises lurking.  Please hang in with us as best as you can knowing that the future looks very bright.  One word of advice:  it may not be the best time to over promise.  Tread with caution until everything is under control and I give you the green light message.

I can’t thank you all enough for your continued support and patronage!

xxoo

FreeSpirited Scott

P.S. ANNA Maria Horner and her conservatory is going to be hosting the premier school house at quilt market.  Hope to see you there.

P.S.S..…Here is where you can find my Executive Facebook page.

P.S.S.S… Also, please subscribe to my blog and get notifications when new blogs are posted.  Look up on the right side of this blog to register.

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This is the sewing machine I give away for free. Please feel free to purchase one, and give it away too! Or Recommend it! Or love it!

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Doing Good Could Be Addictive, But Be Careful

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I have been debating back and forth for awhile whether or not I should share this crazy story or just keep it between me and me and the other person involved.  Mind you, I have only told one person this story and it was not until just recently.  I didn’t even tell my wife yet….sorry Laurie.

On a trip to South Carolina many months ago,  I took an Uber to my hotel.  As I usually do, I started chatting up the driver and making small talk.  Nothing out of the ordinary until the driver opened up about the fact that her boyfriend was abusing her and her child and her world was a total mess.  I of course hated to hear that and felt so sad for her.  I am a sucker and do have compassion for others….probably a little too much sometimes as my wife would probably tell you.  Hence, that is why I didn’t tell her.  Yeah, I know this might get me in to some hot water.

Anyway, with the sewing machine giveaway and other charitable work putting me on a high of late, I thought that I could help out Tiffanie.  As I exited the car, I gave her my card and told her to reach out and I would see what I could do.  I know, it isn’t my business to butt in to people’s lives, but hearing her tell her story made me sad and made me want to try and help to promote some change for her.

Fast forward a couple weeks, lo and behold she reached out to me.  We spoke and tried to talk through what was going on and how I might be able to help.  I didn’t feel right just sending her money because that would be a little over the top even though I truly did believe what she was telling me all true.  After awhile, I agreed to finance her car being fixed so at the least she could try to continue to drive and make a living with Uber.  Hopefully that money she earned would help her to improve her situation or at least keep her employed.

A couple days later, I hear from the auto repair shop and they tell me the cost to repair her car and I pay.  The young lady is very appreciative beyond words.  We speak a couple times after that through email.  I kept trying to encourage her to stay focused and get her life in order for herself and her son.  I kept urging her to focus on the goal.

Then things were quiet and I hadn’t heard from her in a bit.  I figured it was a good thing and I was hopeful that I did in fact help her out and she got her life back on track.  Then one day as I am sitting at my desk at work, I get a real mysterious email.  You aren’t going to believe this…well, maybe you will.  The email was from a woman’s correctional facility.  Oy veh!  What did I get myself in to?

There it was, an email from Tiffanie saying:

“Scott, I really need you to bail me out of here.  I will explain everything after, it’s all a big misunderstanding.”

Man O Man!  It was time for me to throw in the towel.  This was beyond the scope of what I signed up for and at this point I didn’t believe that she was in there for a misunderstanding.  I figured she was desperate and desperate people do desperate things sometimes.  Unfortunately, she got caught.

I wrote back:

“Dear Tiffanie, I am sorry to hear about this, but I tried to help you the best I could.   I didn’t expect something as extreme as this to happen and you are going to have to deal with the consequences of your actions.”  

That was it.  I have never heard from her again.  Long story short, doing good feels really good, but you can’t always fix other people’s problems.  I guess it was the thought that counted.

Have a great week.

Before I sign off, I wanted to encourage my readers to post comments.  Considering that I just came in to loads of new precuts, I wanted to share those with my followers and especially those who read my blogs.  So with that, every 20th comment will receive a little something from me (up to 300 comments or 15 prizes max).

Sad Scott

P.S..…Here is where you can find my Executive Facebook page.

P.S.S.… Also, please subscribe to my blog and get notifications when new blogs are posted.  Look up on the right side of this blog to register.

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This is the sewing machine I give away for free. Please feel free to purchase one, and give it away too! Or Recommend it! Or love it!