Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Thinking Of Texas & Worried About Quilt Market

Happy Labor Day!  Today we honor the labor movement and all the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of this great country.  Enjoy the day off!

Speaking of well-being of the country, I wanted to give a shout out to everyone who has been affected by the devastating floods and storms. Please be safe and careful.  You are in our thoughts and prayers.  If there is anyway that I can help, please comment in the comments section and I will see what I can do to lend a hand.

This storm situation is giving me flashbacks to Hurricane Sandy when I was grounded in Houston for 3-4 extra days after quilt market.  That was not a fun time and the feeling of being helpless was very discomforting. I am sure many people affected by the storms are also feeling helpless too and probably way worse, but just know that this too shall pass.  Be strong, smart and take one day at a time.

Speaking of Quilt Market and the storm devastation in Texas, I must say that I am extremely concerned about the quickly ensuing Quilt Market.  I think this just provides one more big excuse for people not to attend. The timing could not be worse for us. Unfortunately this is a fairly legitimate excuse because it is going to take time to clean up the mess and who is really going to want to venture in to the unknown.  I just don’t think that is the nature of our industry.

In my humble opinion, the people at Quilts Inc. should bite the bullet and cancel, collect on their business interruption insurance (hopefully they have that) and look forward to the next Quilt Market.  I would just hate for this market to be the nail in the coffin for all future Quilt Markets due to a really poor show since a lot of vendors are already on the fence about continuing to attend market.  Not to mention the companies that have already abandoned market.  In any case, it doesn’t seem that the people at Quilts Inc. agree with me.  I just went on to the Quilts Inc. website and this was the message:

Hi Everyone,

An update to let you know that our offices will continue to be closed for the time being, but we will post information about when they will reopen once we know.  In the meantime, please know that there is no reason to change any plans you’ve made to attend this year’s Quilt Market in Houston.  The show will go on as scheduled …and we hope you will plan to be there!

I am happy to know that everyone at Quilts Inc. is ok.  It is frightening to me though that they could say, “There is no reason to change any plans.” Hmmm…no reason?  I can think of some reasons.  No one knows how long it will take to clean up the mess.  Also, no one knows how bad the attendance will suffer.  But, I guess the show will go on.  The other thing that concerns me is that they say they “hope” we will be there.  I just don’t know if hope is going to get the attendance numbers up.

I am sure we will hear reports and rumors about Quilt Market being on and off, so get ready for the roller coaster ride.  In the meantime, based on everything that is going on, do you plan on attending?  I want to know.  As of right now, I am still attending, but with much trepidation and skepticism. Thanks.

Skeptical Scott

 

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Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Bits ‘N’ Pieces Is Back

Dear Readers,

I realized that I haven’t done a bits ‘n’ pieces blog in awhile.  Nor have I done a fabric yenta blog either.  Don’t you worry though, the fabric yenta will be back real soon with a brand new series called “Big Macher.”  With that, let’s focus this week on some bits ‘n’ pieces.

First off, it is great to have my son home from sleepaway camp.  The first summer was a big success.  I could go on and on about his summer in detail, but that would be too boring.  Instead, I wanted to mention how much he learned.  What did he learn?  He learned some very important things that will help him be a huge success in life….NOT!  On the car ride home from the bus stop, he asked us if we knew the a, b, c, d, etc. curse words.  Uh- vey!  Can’t wait to hear what he learns next summer.

Second, I thought you should know that my family took a short summer vacation last week.  We went to Toronto and I gotta say, it was pretty awesome. The flight was short which was a big plus.  The weather was great.  There was so much to do.  Here is some of what we saw and did in the short time (I need a vacation from my vacation):  Blue Jays game, Niagara Falls, CN Tower, aquarium, zoo, winery, Toronto Island, swim, foot massages, eat, eat, eat and did I mention…eat.  Highly recommended.

Third, I wanted to let everyone know that my local JCC no longer needs any sewing machine donations.  Thanks to the generosity of the following people and companies, we have met and exceeded our quota.  Standing ovation.  Thanks so much to:

  • Mr. Philipp Ueltschi, the brand manager of sewing machines for Brewer.
  • Mrs. Diane K. Plunkett of Qbee Quilting Lodge in Jay, New York.
  • Mrs. Joanne Hubbard who is my friend from the fabric industry, an amazing quilter, my most loyal blog reader and commentator, a super knowledgeable quilter, a judge and just one of the most kind people I have ever met.  (Joanne, you are not allowed to comment on this blog!)
  • Mrs. Kathy Aust who is one of our amazing sales reps.  I was shocked by the kindness of Kathy’s gesture to buy 2 machines for the JCC.  Amazing!

God bless you all and thank you so much.  It’s great to know that kind people still exist in this crazy world and I didn’t even have to beg.

Finally, I wanted to elaborate on the machines that Joanne attained for the JCC because she truly went above and beyond.  She went to a local school that was selling all their old sewing machines and she bought them so they could be donated to my local JCC.  She was very clever and fixed up a couple machines and sold them off to pay for all the machines that she bought.  Very resourceful if you ask me. This boy from Long Island wouldn’t have thought of that one…that’s for sure.  The problem is that now she is stuck with some extra machines that she doesn’t need.

Joanne and I were discussing a plan of what to do with the extra machines.  She mentioned that some of them needed to be fixed up and I said I would pay for the fixes.  After they are fixed, we agreed that we would offer them (not sure how many are available yet) as a free giveaway to someone in need of a machine that lacks the resources to get one.  With that, keep your eye out for a future blog where I will ask you to give me some suggestions of people who deserve one of these machines and why they deserve it. And the winners will get machines.  How about them apples?  (Quote from Good Will Hunting.)

That’s all the bits ‘n’ pieces that I have for you this week.  Please people, make the best of what remains of summer.  Take the time to re-energize yourself for the rest of the year.

Scotty Bits ‘N’ Pieces

 

 

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Stop The Trash Talking

Growing up, I often heard this from my mom, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  I too say this to my children because it is one of those sayings that is always spot on. You may be wondering where did this come from and why is this blog titled Stop The Trash Talking?

It recently came to my attention, from very reputable sources, that some people or a person in our industry is talking smack about the Jaftex companies and other fabric suppliers to try to make their own products and company look better.  Not only are they talking smack, but what they are saying isn’t even true.  In other words, they are lying.  To me this is such an underhanded and weak way to try to sell fabric.

When I sell fabric, I sell based on the positive attributes of the products that I offer for sale.  That makes sense, right?  A great design, a popular designer, excellent quality, beautiful projects and so on and so forth. Those are reason to buy a product.  I never put down my competition to try to make my product or me look better. To me, that is just immature and so unprofessional.

At the same time, I believe that the fabric buying audience is not stupid either.  They don’t need me to tell them that this technique of bad mouthing another company to try to benefit themselves doesn’t really work.  In fact, it probably backfires and it makes the speaker look bad and reflects poorly on his company. Moreover, the audience probably wonders about the positive attributes of the speaker’s products because they tend to leave that out by spending so much time bad mouthing others.

I know times are hard people, but let’s cut this nonsense and start calling out the culprits on the spot.  Next time you hear someone bad mouth another company to try to make their own company or products look good, you should call them out and say WTF (WHAT THE FABRIC?).  Not only that, but you should consider not doing business with people who are so unprofessional.  Just saying.

Have a great week.  My big guy gets home from camp tomorrow which unfortunately means that the summer is coming closer to the end.  WAH! Wish me luck.

No Smack Talking Scott

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Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: All The People I Meet

I hate when people cancel on me, so I rarely ever cancel on others unless I have a legit reason.  It’s just not my thing and drives me absolutely crazy. With that, I kept my promise to speak at the fabric retreat thrown by Scarlett Wells of the Fabric Cobbler in Forsyth, Illinois. Scarlett did give me the “out” when she heard my uncle passed away, but I didn’t want to let down all the attendees or my friend, Scarlett.

Once and awhile it’s nice to be the only guy in the room.

Above you can see the great picture that was taken with myself, Scarlett (red head to my left) and the rest of the Cobblerstock Crew of 2017.  The thing about the fabric business is that my customers and the ultimate consumers are spread out all over the country and world.  So it isn’t like when I was in finance and all the people that I worked with were a stone’s throw away.  That makes it really hard to build relationships as I am sure you can imagine.  That being said, when I attend events like this, I truly bond with all the people in attendance.  By the end, we are exchanging info, joking around and connecting with each other on social media and such.  When it is all said and done, I hope to have made a lasting impression on each and everyone of the attendees.

The people are shockingly listening to everything I am saying. It’s amazing what the offer of some free fabric can do to get peoples’ attention. Works every time! Too bad my kids are not that in to fabric.

This isn’t very different from when I attend quilt market.  Year after year, I meet people at the market where we work together and bond over our mutual interest of fabric.  Perhaps the customer and I have a meal together, run in to each other at a schoolhouse, say hello in passing, grab a drink together at the bar or see each other in the am at the gym. However, it is sad to say that this may be the only interaction that we have with each other during the entire year since most of the customers have their own sales rep for their territory.

The thing is that I wish I could be in touch with all the people that I meet in the fabric industry because they are all truly so nice to me….especially as compared to those Wall Street guys from my prior life. The kindness was clear from all the cards, emails, blog comments and social media comments from people expressing their condolences when my uncle died. Also, when I recently blogged asking people to help me to collect sewing machines for my local JCC. I was absolutely floored about how many people stepped up.  There were so many offers that I think we will have too many sewing machines and nowhere to store them. Go figure.  Thanks for your kindness.

The bottom line is that the fabric community is full of kind and special people.  I appreciate you all and hope you appreciate me a modicum of how much I appreciate all of you.  With that, I would like to challenge you and I would like you to challenge me to try to stay in touch more throughout the year instead of just at quilt market or at a speaking engagement.  An email, a call, a note, a social media interaction what have you.  I will take what I can get and I will appreciate it.  It’s so easy to communicate nowadays, so let’s make this happen because I am not going anywhere any time soon (I am turning 45 in December and my grandpa worked until his early 90’s.  Even if I work until 70, that is still another 25 years.  OMG!)  In other words, the sooner we start, the better.

Stay In Touch Scott

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Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Speechless

Not so happy Monday folks.  Today I am taking a break from being happy boring Scott.  It is not by choice, but rather out of circumstance, so hopefully you will understand and can make an exception this one time. Last week’s trip unfortunately didn’t turn out as planned.  A little wrench was thrown at me when my uncle (Michael Brod) finally passed away from brain cancer.  I knew it was coming (as did my loyal blog reader’s), but who is kidding who, one is never fully prepared for the death of a loved one.

The thing is that for me (excluding my grandparents), this is the first death that has rattled me to my core and really hit home.  I mean seriously, I am an emotional wreck every time I think about Unc or Uncsy as we liked to call him.  All the memories.  All the love.  And now the void. I am totally speechless.

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: On The Road Again….Illinois & The Fabric Cobbler

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a fabulous weekend.  It’s been a little while since the last time I got my butt out of my chair and hit the road to visit customers on sales calls.  Shame on me! I guess I have just gotten so bogged down with paper work or maybe I have just been lazy and avoiding the dread of travelling these days. The truth is that the office stuff is boring. There is nothing I love more than being out on the road selling, meeting customers and seeing all the different quilt shops out there. Needless to say, I am looking forward to this trip and whatever it might bring.  Stay tuned.

With that, I wanted to tell you what I have going on this week. Wednesday night I will be flying to Chicago.  Thursday and Friday I will be travelling with my local sales reps to about 3-4 shops.  I truly look forward to meeting some of her customers as I have not traveled to shops in Illinois in a long time.  And you know as well as I do that the shop owners can’t wait to meet this famous schmata salesman and blogger extraordinaire.  I mean, come on.  I think I am up to like 25 avid blog readers and I am ranked in the top one million blogs on Bloglovin.  Fame is all relative.  I digress.

Now the really exciting part.  Without going in to too much detail (feel free to read this story with more background about Scarlett “S”), several quilt markets ago I met this truly amazing quilt shop owner who also happens to be a vet. A vet who defended our United States Of America. Her name is Scarlett Wells and she owns the Fabric Cobbler in Forsythe, Illinois.  Since that day at market when we met, we have formed a lovely friendship and work relationship. So when Scarlett invited me to speak at a customer dinner that she was hosting, I of course had to oblige.  You know me, Scott the “yes man.”

The truth is that I am excited to speak at this event as it has been a little while since my last speaking engagement in North Carolina last year. When I partake in speaking engagements, I usually don’t like to give a long boring speech where everyone will fall asleep.  I prefer to give a little intro and then let the conversation develop based on audience member questions and participation.  So for all of you Fabric Cobbler fans attending the dinner, please make sure to bring your questions related to fabric, family businesses, selling, buying, marketing, social media, 4th generation and so on and so forth. Please don’t be shy because the better the questions, the better and more informative the night will be for each of you.  In other words, we are all in this together.

I can’t wait for Friday night and I sure hope that my glossophobia (fear of public speaking) doesn’t kick in.  Finally, for anyone else who might be interested in inviting me to speak at a fabric related event, make sure to send me an invite because there is a good chance that I will surprise you and actually say “yes.”  The good thing is that I usually come bearing gifts.

Public Speaking Scott

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Camp Visiting Day & Sibling Love

My Monday blog was so important (CHARITY) that I didn’t want to muddle it up with my camp visiting day report.  Many of you emailed me and wished me luck before I went (thanks!) and even emailed me after to see how it was (thanks again!), so I figured I would mix it up with a mid-week blog report.  

The truth is that there is so much to discuss about visiting day, but I don’t want to bore you with every single detail.  The day is an emotional roller coaster from the beginning to the bitter end for everyone to say the least. Let’s just leave it at this….it was a great day and Aaron is doing amazing. Happy Aaron equals happy parents.

Please allow me to show you some pictures of the most important thing about visiting day because this is truly what it is about.  Please enjoy!

Brothers A&B seeing each other for the first time in 3 weeks.
Big bro holding back the tears and little bro wailing. They were overjoyed to see each other.
Slowly changing from sadness to happiness.
And finally, we have this….brotherly love at its finest.

That is what it is all about folks…the love that 2 siblings have for one another.  During Father’s day, my Uncle Michael was saying that there is no more important relationship than that of 2 siblings and he was so right.

With all that being said, I would like to urge you to reach out to your sibling/s.  Pick up the phone.  Get in the car.  It’s never too late to get back in touch with a sibling because there is always a special place in their heart for you and one in your heart for them.  Life is too short folks. XXOO to my siblings, Jill & Greg.

Let me know how this works out for you!

Sibling Scott!

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Share The Love Through Charity

“A man’s true wealth is the good he does in the world.”

I am a board member of my local JCC (SJJCC) which is one of the most impressive charitable organizations around town.  In short, the SJJCC is an extremely well run and well financed organization that offers so much to so many in all different states of need (the list is endless).  It is the JCC that all other JCC’s aspire to be and I am not just saying that because I am on the board (it’s only been a couple years)…this place is the real deal and has been for a very long time. With that, this week I want to discuss my planned visit and sponsorship of the Camp Kehilla carnival and see whether you can help me by donating a sewing machine to another great SJJCC cause.

Camp Kehilla is the SJJCC’s camp for kids with special needs….an amazing place to say the least.  This is the second year that I am sponsoring the carnival.  It is this coming Thursday and I am looking forward to watching all the kids in action, smiling, laughing and having a blast. There is no feeling more rewarding than when the kids come up to me to thank me for the great day they are having. Even if they didn’t thank me, I would feel great. Let’s just hope that the weather cooperates.

Speaking of cooperation, I need some help from all of my quilting peeps. I don’t know if you remember or not, but back in August of 2016, I blogged about the naming of the Andrea & Robert Fortunoff (my parents) Art For Community Program endowed to the SJJCC. Here’s the link to that blog if you want to refresh your memory and the aim of the organization is immediately below:

“Art for Community provides opportunities for children and families to participate in meaningful community service projects creating beautiful and functional items made from fabric to be donated to those in need.”

So here’s the deal.  After a recent brainstorming meeting, the team came up with two great ways to incorporate the fabric donated by the Jaftex Companies (A.E. Nathan Co., Inc., Henry Glass Fabrics, Studioe Fabrics & The Blank Quilting Corp.) in to giving back. The thing is that we are missing one very critical ingredient: sewing machines. That is why I am here today to ask you if you could find it in your heart to donate a gently used (or brand new), portable and fully functioning sewing machine for two upcoming drives and future drives.

The first drive is to make as many pillow cases as possible for a program called Ryan’s Case For Smiles.  This program distributes pillow cases to kids in hospitals in order to help them relieve some of the stress that comes with the traumatic and frightening experience of being in a hospital and all that goes with it.

The second drive is to make place mats for the first ever SJJCC Thanksgiving Community Luncheon for people that are socially isolated. Not only will the attendees get a great meal and not feel socially isolated for the day, but they will also get to take home what I am sure will be a beautiful place mat made with a sewing machine from YOU!

With all that, if you could find it in your heart to donate a sewing machine, please email me at scott@jaftex.com and we can work out the details.  I will even pay for the shipping.  If you help me, I will be forever indebted to you.  You will also become a VIP in my book and I am sure the book of so many others.

XXOO
Sewing Machine Scott

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Oh Yeah, I Forgot To Write A Post May Quilt Market Blog

Happy Monday,

I can’t believe that it is July 10 and I never posted a blog about the May Quilt Market.  Better late than never though.  I am not going to spend a lot of time chirping about the Quilt Market because I am saddened by the continued downturn taking place before my eyes.  I need to continue to be happy boring Scott and talking about Quilt Market will make that extremely challenging. I can only hope that the October Quilt Market in Houston has a better feel.  Let’s say a prayer together and make that happen….AMEN!  I will be there in my smaller booth with a big smile, as always, and hope you will come and keep me company.  I will make sure to have candy for us to share and water to wash it down.  I don’t share Twizzlers though, so bring your own.

So you know that invite that I put out to the world on my blog to come to dinner with the Jaftex peeps?  Yes, it was real!  In fact, we quickly went from 20 people to 50 in a very few days once I mentioned Ruth Chris and steak.  Some people actually took me up on the offer. Imagine that?  Not only that, but they had a lovely evening…or at least that is what they wrote in all the thank you notes.

The crew schlepped their way over to Ruth Chris and I bet they were all very surprised that us Fortunoff boys could throw a p-a-r-t-y.  The drinks were flowing.  The photographer was photographing all the big hitters in attendance.  I really don’t want to name names because I don’t want to make everyone jealous that was like, “I should have emailed Scott about dinner, but I just didn’t know if he was serious or not.”  Come on people, this kid doesn’t lie.  An April Fool’s joke here or there, but a dinner.  I don’t mess around when it comes to food.  In any case, next time I put out an invite, hop to it.

While eating appetizers and having cocktails, everyone mingled.  After that, we sat for some brief speeches from my brother (the hostess with the mostess), Larry Reichenberg (Henry Glass President), Cliff Garfinkel (Studioe & Blank Sales Manager) and yours truly.  In between, salads were served and then our main courses which of course included a lot of tasty steak.  It was made even more delicious for the guests because it was FREEEEEEE!  After dinner, we really stepped it up a notch with a comedian/magician. We joked in the office that this was going to be like my second Bar Mitzvah, but this time we were pulling out all the stops for our valued customers.

The entertainment was great.  The guy managed to get a lot of the audience involved with his schtick.  To be honest, the guy had me in stitches so bad that I went home with a headache from laughing so hard. After the comedy/magic routine, we all had dessert.  The grand finale is that everyone got to go home with a limited edition Jaftex beach bag with some precuts inside.  That was all she wrote folks.  Thank you to all that attended as we greatly value your friendship and partnership.  If you want to be invited to the next big dinner, you are going to have to keep an eagle eye on my blogs for the elusive invitation.

Have a great week!  I am off to camp visiting day next weekend.  I am not sure which emotions will be in control after the weekend, so Monday, there may or may not be a blog waiting for you to read.  Wish me luck!

Scott

PS…here’s a picture of the giveaway bag.  I have a couple left that I might be willing to giveaway if you say the right thing when commenting on this blog.