Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Who Knew?

Who knew?  Who knew that my world was going to be turned upside down because of this deal?  Who knew that my work life would never be the same again?  Oh, if you haven’t heard, Jaftex (my family business) purchased FreeSpirit in the deal of a lifetime, said I.   Who knew that my phone would be blowing up with so many congratulatory calls?  Who knew how hard it would be to keep up with the outpouring of positivity, excitement, encouragement, relief and love.  I am not kidding.  Let’s hug it out!!!!!!  (I hate when people put a million!!!!!!! in a row).

Our shareholders, meaning consumers and shop owners, have given a resounding thumbs up to this purchase.  The outpouring is unreal and it just crystallizes the importance of this deal for my family and for the entire textile industry.   This is the transaction that we have been waiting so patiently for. FINALLY!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

As I have also said, this industry needs consolidation and perhaps this will be the  start of a new wave.  I think a fabric merger mania Monday is in the cards so to speak.  When I was a stock trader, CNBC Business News would often have merger Monday as most deals are hammered out on the weekends and announced Monday. Ahem.  How ironic?  Makes sense? Recall that we announced our deal on a Monday.

We have definitely been looking for new targets (eesh that sounds so violent), how about new partners?  That’s not correct either.  A seller?  Yes!  This opportunity came out of nowhere when we got the email that FreeSpirit was closing.  We had heard rumblings, as I am sure you probably did too, but there is always so much rumor and nonsense being spread in our industry.   I am sure it is not unlike other industries.   Fake news!

Anyway, my dad made the call to the FreeSpirit management and that got the ball rolling.   The rest is history.  Here’s one for you dad:   I guess you haven’t lost your touch in your over 50 years in the textile industry.   Love ya man!   (My dad totally reads the blogs.  He likes to say that he “caught up on my blogs over the weekend.” Then my mom calls to say that my dad showed her the blogs and she loves them yadda yadda.  It’s classic).

Everyone has so many questions as do I.  I love it how people presume that within a day of doing this deal that I immediately know which way is up including every small and large detail about FreeSpirit.  As my dad always likes to say, “we don’t even know where the bathroom is yet.” Don’t forget that I was away when this deal was amazingly consummated by my brother and dad.  I will be heading to the office this week and will also be at the VDTA show in Charlotte so I will get to visit two times in the coming weeks. There is a lot to learn and I look forward to meeting all the new people and all the new challenges.  We are excited about how many employees have decided to stay with FreeSpirit.  This should greatly help to keep the transitional tumult to a minimum.  Thank you in advance to the new team at FreeSpirit.  I look forward to the our future together.

If you have questions, I suggest that you contact the same people or person as you would have in the past.  Or you can call the office number and  get help that way…the number is 866-907-3305.  Or you can always contact me and I will point you in the right direction.  Don’t be shy people because we want to make this transition as quick and painless as possible.

What I can tell you is that all the January released lines are moving forward except the Sprout line by Joel Dewberry.  The reps should have their next samples under the new ownership around quilt market.

All the sales and distribution channels shall remain the same for the time being.  We of course need time to evaluate all the existing partners that FreeSpirit has to see how strong they all are.  As you know, I am all for change, but that change has to come for the proper reasons.  As such, this deal is a work in progress and I expect it to take about a year before all the details and kinks are smoothed out.  At that point, the business should be able to more or less run on auto-pilot.  And then, we will be ready for the next deal!

Thanks for your time.  Have a fabulous week.

FreeSpirited Scott

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813 words including these.

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!

Author: Scott Fortunoff

Author of Tales of 4th Generation Textile Executive Blog. President of Studioe Fabrics, The Blank Quilting Corp. and A.E. Nathan Co., Inc. Co-President of FreeSpirit Fabrics. V-P of Henry Glass Fabrics. President of Scott’s Free Sewing Machines. Creator of the #sewrevolution.

39 thoughts on “Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Who Knew?”

  1. Scott, it all sounds wonderful. Your enthusiasm is contagious, and simply put, that means everything will work out just fine! Here’s to looking forward !

  2. I am pleased that you were in a position to immediately take advantage of this opportunity and I hope the transition goes as smoothly as possible. As a consumer, I am impressed with how accessible you’ve made yourself to the people who love your products.

    1. Morning Joan,
      I am pleased too…right place at the right time. Thanks! I like to try to have my hand on the pulse of the industry and in order to do that I need to communicate with my people.
      Have a great week.

  3. Job well done, and many issues to cover, conquer, and prosper with. You have been taught by one of the best, and your journey will take you to the next place and more! Thank you for letting me and all the others take this incredible journey with you and your family. God Bless

  4. Congratulations of the acquisition of FreeSpirit. You and your family are helping save the shrinking consumer textile arena. Welcome to Charlotte in the coming weeks.

  5. So very relieved that Free Spirit and its fabulous artists and there fabrics will continue to be in our lives. Thank you and your family for keeping such a great group of fabrics together. Some of us are hoping once you get this new acquisition under your belt, you will have some time to review some of the discontinued fabrics and consider reprinting. Some fabrics sold so fast there was no opportunity to purchase them. We only saw them in photos of completed quilts.

    Best of Luck,


  6. The KFC and Tula Pink fans are serious about their love for the designers and their fabric. Over 400 handmade hexies, sewn by women from all over the world, were donated to the Philip Jacobs Quilt project; coordinated and designed by Pippin Williams. Another fact of fandom: there is a Tula Pink destash facebook group, where OOP fabrics go for $60. For a fat quarter, or a yard? I don’t remember which. Waaay out of my price range, either amount!

  7. Scott, I think the best thing that has you show is your transparency and keeping everyone informed, communication is such a big part of a change like this for all involved. When the original post that free spirit was closing it doors, there was not much communication and so many people had so many questions, a lot went unanswered and that is not the way to treat valued team members and consumers.

    Your ongoing commitment to this level of communication and transparency is a standard more could d learn from and follow. I appreciate the time and effort you continually display and through that you have made me a more loyal customer to your brands (making a lovely brimfield awakening quilt with Helping hands by Kim Diehl).

    best of wishes to you and your family, and the loo is the 2nd door on the left 🙂

  8. It is so exciting to have a “front row seat” so to speak! And yes, your enthusiasm is contagious. I, too, cannot wait to see what the future holds for you and your family. So grateful that your family has a legacy that they are preserving and that we get to benefit from it. Thanks Scott, and thank you to your family as well.

  9. Scott,

    Thanks for the updates. As with most acquisitions, it takes time to evaluate and incorporate, usually 1-2 years to fully integrate. Changes are to be expected. Hopefully the disruptions are few and the transition is smooth as can be. The Free Spirit fabric division was like no other with its many talented and well known designers and their very loyal fans.

    My one question (at this time) is will the free quilt/project patterns link at freespiritfabrics.com still remain accessible or be updated? Will new patterns still be posted at this site or will there be a new site created with this information?

    Will you provide an update on your sewing machine giveaway project? How many gifted so far? In your spare time of course.

    1. HI Mary,
      Thanks for your kind note. Here are the answers to your questions:
      1.we will continue to offer free projects.
      2. I will continue to update on my sewing machine giveaway, but that will be here from the studioe site. I am up to 89, but probably really way more.
      Have a great weekend.

  10. Congratulations on your new acquisition! Many of us were mourning the loss of such lovely fabric lines hoping someone would “pick them up”. Please don’t take the asking price for OOP fat quarter of $20 as an endorsement of suggest retail price! Most of us hobbyists cannot afford that. Goodness, kindness and generosity of spirit are rewarded in many ways.

    1. Hi Mary Ellen,
      Thanks for the congratulations.
      As for your OOP comment, I am sorry, but I really am not sure what you are referring to. Please advise.

  11. Retired Family and Consumer Sciences educator here. I taught 100’s to sew and loved it. I fought many times to keep the textile programs alive. It is a constant battle. I hope that your family has great success in keeping textiles alive and kicking along with supporting struggling Facs/home ec programs around the world.

    As a retired person I sew , sew , sew and sell my products on line. ( As well as owning a machine shop with my husband. ) Products with Free spirit fabrics are top dogs in sales.

    Best to you in your transition!

  12. I’m over here giggling and find myself covered in the contagious excitement! I have my right carpal tunnel surgery next week the left two weeks after that so that’ll give me some down time to start trouble somewhere! Lol wanted you to see the most recent QOVs that your fabric donations made possible (doesn’t let me tag)!.. It’s at the bottom of the album but no worries you are insanely busy!


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