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!


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.

Ugh!  Over 1000 words including these.  I had to!

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: Good Things Come To Those Who Patiently Wait For The New FreeSpirit!”

  1. Scott, I love reading your post and blogs. I have been watching some of the quilting videos on YouTube so just in case I am a winner of that beautiful sewing machine I will be ready. By the way I am crazy excited about the jelly roll collections. Ahhhhh I am so excited you would think it was Christmas. I have moved so my new address is Tammy

  2. Hi Scott .. you are doing a brilliant thing with the sewing machine giveaway for sure!

    Are you OK with UKQU.co.uk replicating your blog at our website, and if you are changing your website would you be interested in talking to us about building that for you?

  3. Thanks for the updates! My main concern is about FreeSpirit selling directly to Amazon. I’m not talking about independent mom-and-pop quilt shops that use Amazon as a selling platform. I don’t have a problem with that. But, Amazon itself sells many of the FreeSpirit fabrics directly which makes it hard for independent quilt shops to compete. I would like to see this go away. Here’s an example of one such item – look at the fine print in the listing which states “ships from and sold by Amazon.”

    When we see an item like this, discontinue carrying it. Thanks for reading this.


  4. More than saving a brand it’s encouraging that you kept people and saved jobs. Great job Jaftex!

  5. Your words, even though over 1000, were much needed and appreciated. I can’t even imagine what all is involved in such a transition; but I do know that if anyone and any company can do it, it is Jaftex. Have a great week!

  6. Thank you for you and your family being willing to embark on such a grand adventure with Free Spirit. The product line is worth it. The designers are worth it. The employees are worth it.

  7. I’m not a shop owner, but as a designer I am so happy that I can show my samples to customers and vendors in the great fabrics FreeSpirit offers. Your designers are the artists my customers ask for. For such a busy guy, I am inspired by your good nature and unflagging positive energy. Thanks, Scott!

  8. Scott. Everyone here in Washington State has been buzzing about you all. Can’t wait for all the good things to come. Sorry can’t make it to market in may, but will looking forward to the new lines soon. YEAAA!!!

  9. Thank you for the blood, sweat, and tears that are always a part of such business transactions. And thanks to Coats for helping with the transition! Waiting impatiently for FreeSpirit! XOXOX

  10. I have been enjoying everything you write ( I call it informative, very definitely not too lengthy). What really makes me appreciate you the most is that it seems you are trying to do the best you can for everyone that is affected by this new road you are transversing. Treating your employees fairly means you have a great company as they will “always” stand behind you! It is rare in this day and age to have someone at the helm that really cares and treats their employees good. Kudos to you!!!

  11. Scott thanks for the update. Looking forward to all of the new happenings.

    It is possible to remove the comment from Tammy Harrison above that contains her personal information? The trolls may be about.

  12. I am excited about having a company which is focused on fabric, take over. Not having seen the books of Coats, but being a shop owner, I cannot think that having SO MANY basics for each designer played into the lack of financial success. I await to see the changes and glad that we didn’t have to wait forever to continue to see these designers’ lines.

  13. hi Scott, I’m happy to read of this journey and looking forward to sewing up many great designs

  14. Hi Scott, I am a quilter. I am not a store owner and have no idea how the textile industry works. You have given me some peeks into your world and I am fascinated. I just wanted to say thanks. I look forward to increasing my stash!

  15. Wow Scott! Praying for you and your family as you undertake this huge transition! Can’t think of any group of people better suited to make this miracle happen! It’s sooo exciting!

  16. Thanks for the update! It’s exciting to hear what’s happening- especially the ‘behind the scenes’ logistics.
    Bravos to you, Scott, for being the classy guy we are beginning to know- to acknowledge Coats active participation in the transfer.

    Thanks for making FreeSpirit even better!!

  17. Thanks for the update! I never really paid attention to most of the different manufacturers. I just purchase what makes me happy and found I have lots of FreeSpirit..

    Thanks for keeping your fans informed!

  18. So glad you have taken over FS fabrics, they are my favorite!
    Wishing you good luck and success.

Comments are closed.