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.

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842 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.

14 thoughts on “Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Who Will Be Selling For The New FreeSpirit?”

  1. As a consumer, I am proof that if you give them a sewing machine, they will buy fabric.
    My Mom gave me my featherweight.
    If you give them a bundle of fabric, they will buy more fabric.
    If you give them a free class, they will buy tools and fabric.
    A good percentage these people will love their newfound artistic talent. They will love that they can now sew their basics. Clothing, household wares, and beloved quilts.
    So, pass it on. Scott’s #sewrevolution is exciting and it is also good business.

    1. I believe this to be true !! I paid for a beginners sewing class for my 19 year old granddaughter … she wants to learn more !! She wants to learn to make clothes too !! Yes … I have her hooked, now to get her into some more classes and get her a sewing machine. She is so excited !!

  2. Excited but pensive. As a consumer, I’m not sure what this will mean to my LQS and the shops I frequent within an hour of my home! Time will tell!

    1. this means the shopowners will sometimes have to do business with 2 salesreps instead of one … as a consumer you’ll have nothing to do with these changes

      1. That isn’t really the intent and most shops probably see both of the reps anyway. That being said, when the Blank/Studioe rep comes in, he/she will ask if the customer saw the lines that we are now identifying as Signature. If they saw it already, they will move on. If they haven’t seen it, they will show and tell.
        Regards,
        Scott

  3. I, patiently, await all the changes. As my FreeSpirit rep’s livelihood is primarily FreeSpirit, I will support her, not my Blank Rep (do I even have one anymore now that we no longer have Carrie Strong? I have lost track). I am excited to see what you all do with it. I expect some scale back in other areas. Just playing along with you. Have fun!

  4. Thank you again for the on going information. I appreciate you keeping us all up to date. Can’t wait to see some of the new lines and finally get to buy some of the Signature fabric.

    1. You are very welcome kim. I hope it is helpful.
      Just to be clear, the Signature fabric will be part of the regular groups that we sell. This term just identifies those lines being sold by additional reps.
      Regards,
      Scott

  5. Makes sense to me, but I am not in the loop. I really like that you are encouraging folks to let you and others know if there is an issue. Keeping the lines of communication open is critical for any business, but even moreso as the transition and sale moves forward. Wishing you much success in the days and months ahead.

  6. Exciting to follow the happenings. I am hoping to see expanded selections at my current quilt shop in South Bend, IN – Stone Soup Batiks. I currently order a lot on line. I did enjoy actually seeing the fabric first-hand at a quilt shop in Ooltewah, TN. You, Scott, had been buy to see them. They didn’t know what to think of you. hahahaha (or they just weren’t sharing). Onward! Forward!

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