TALES OF A 4TH GENERATION TEXTILE EXECUTIVE: MAKING SURE STUDIOE CUSTOMERS AND THEIR CUSTOMERS ARE HAPPY

Hello Studioe Blogees,

I finally have a second or two to breathe following the very successful Portland Quilt Market for Studioe. Of course when I have time to breathe, I have time to talk and when I have time to talk, I want to talk to you, all of the loyal Studioe followers.

If you haven’t heard yet, Studioe introduced a group of shot cottons at market that are called Peppered Cottons because they were the brainchild of our esteemed licensor, Pepper Cory.  Get it?  On top of that, some of the colors were named after spices and the swatch card says “Solid Colors with Spice.”   Very clever play on words!  How lucky did Studioe get to find Pepper?  Can someone please pass the salt?

Anyway, the shot cottons and many of our other new lines went over very well with US and International customers alike. I am proud to say that this boost to Studioe is getting us ahead of schedule based on my road map to Studioe stardom.  My baby is growing up fast!  One other thing that gave Studioe a much needed boost was the great 2 page spread in the Fab Shop News (April Issue, pgs 44-45).  I owe a big thanks to Laurie Harsh and her team for this.

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Fab Shop News wrote a very nice article about our super-energized approach to Studioe Fabrics.

 

Sorry for the digression, but what I really want to talk about is MAKING SURE STUDIOe CUSTOMERS AND THEIR CUSTOMERS ARE HAPPY.  A lot of companies out there, in all businesses, just ship products and don’t turn back, but we at Studioe are different…..we care and more specifically I care.  In fact, for those of you that just received orders from Studioeyou may have noticed a little postcard in the box from yours truly.    The long and the short of the postcard is that we take our fabric and all the details surrounding it very seriously.

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I am sure that you take it very seriously too as it is your business and livelihood.  The last thing you want is something that is not saleable, sellable, tomato, tomatoe…cut me some slack.  So what I want to say in no uncertain terms is that “Studioe stands by its fabric 1000%.”  Therefore, if you have a problem or concern, please let me know asap.  Me….yours truly….Scott Fortunoff…the President of Studioe.  800-294-9495 x218.  I would give my email, but every time I do that I get loaded with spam from the relentless spammers.   They should take up quilting if they have so much free time.   But seriously, I totally mean everything I am saying.  I guarantee that I will fix any and all Studioe related problems to your complete satisfaction.  Don’t forget, if you don’t tell me about your problems, I can’t fix them.  No secrets please.

I don’t want to hear only about problems because that could start to get on my nerves.  I would love to hear about successes too.  Are the customers falling on top of each other to get to the Studiosection in your shop?  Did someone make something amazing with Studiofabric that we should post on our Facebook page?  Tell me, tell me….please.

 

That is all I have for you today..  So long!

 

Yours Truly,

Scottie

 

PS…Studiocustomers rule!

TALES OF A 4TH GENERATION TEXTILE EXECUTIVE: NEXT STOP…PADUCAH

As I settled into my seat on the 8 am flight from New York’s Laguardia to Nashville, TN, I hear the flight attendant say that we will be taking off an hour later than scheduled.  “Furlough!?!” “Sequester!?!?” I muttered to myself as I worried about my schedule being all messed up since I would only have half a day to enjoy Paducah.  We eventually took off and I spent my time reading up on the American Quilt Society’s (AQS) show in Paducah as well as all the exciting activities and sites available for “fabric” people to see and enjoy.  All and all, it seems like a sort of Shangri-La for quilters.

Like magic, we still landed on schedule, so my plans went without a hitch.  Over 2 hours of very boring driving in the rain, I arrived in Paducah without a single speeding ticket.  Yeah me!  The highlight of the ride was the most amazing endless sea of bright yellow colored flowers and a bag of my beloved strawberry Twizzlers.  It’s so frustrating that the price of Twizzlers keeps going up and the number of Twizzlers in the bag keeps going down…I digress.

As I pulled into Paducah, and neared in on the show, I was amazed by everything screaming out “welcome quilters.” Every store front had a welcome sign including the local body shop and barber shop…..perplexing to say the least.  I figured out that something big was going on here and I unfortunately didn’t realize how big it was until now….better late than never.

This trip so perfectly coincided with my new role as the Studioe President and Sales Manager and my newest foray into the quilt shop only arena.

I parked my rental car right next to the big white bubble that looked just like the place where I play tennis during the winter.  I ran through the rain, entered the revolving door into the bubble, and certainly didn’t see any of my tennis buddies, but I did see some friends of “Jaftex” (the parent company of Studioe named after my great grandfather J. A. Fortunoff).  These friends were customers, shop owners, quilters, fabric designers, book writers and show exhibitors.  I was fortunate to have had seen these friends because they were nice enough to tour me around and show me the ropes.  My observations were endless, but what struck me the most was the number of attendees.  This was like attending the World Series of baseball, but for quilting.  Apparently around 30,000 people attended!!  This show is no joke and is becoming so popular that the people of AQS are going to start having 7 shows a year.  Here are the dates and locations for 2014 in case you wanted to know:

  1. Phoenix, AZ, February 5-8, 2014.  Phoenix Convention Center.
  2. Lancaster, PA, March 12-15, 2014.  Lancaster Country Convention Center.
  3. Paducah, KY, April 23-26.  Expo & Convention Center.  30th ANNIVERSARY.
  4. Charlotte, NC, July 30-August 2.  Charlotte Convention Center.
  5. Grand Rapids, MI, August 20-23.  Devos Place Convention Center.
  6. Chattanooga, TN, September 10-13.  Chattanooga Convention Center.
  7. Des Moines, IA, October 1-4.  Iowa Events Center.

On my tour of the show, which was comprised of a labyrinth of buildings and floors containing exhibits, exhibitors and demonstrations, these were some of the highlights:

  • I got to see the Tentmakers of Cairo, “Stitch Like An Egyptian” Exhibit.  Have you seen these guys?  Hosam Hanafy and Tarek Abdelhay sit there on benches and stitch their applique while tons of people surround them admiring their great work, taking pictures and chatting.  I was very impressed watching them and also impressed with the extremely soft Egyptian cotton fabrics they used.  These cottons would be a great addition to the Studioarsenal of basics.  Get me on the next flight to Egypt!  Believe it or not, I have been to Egypt…I digress yet again.
  • I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of vendors.  They were raving about what a great success the show was for them and how nice it was to work with the people of AQS.   The consensus was that they would certainly be attending more of the AQS shows in the future and were glad to have some additional venue options to choose from going forward.  The energy and creativity that goes into putting an exceptional booth together always impresses me and there were many that were spectacular.
  • I met some people that were interested in designing for Studioe as I look to continue to build a superb team of licensed designers.  By the way, besides adding Pepper Cory to the roster of new Studioe designers, we also picked up Jodi Barrows of Square in a Square and Martha Walker of Wagons West Designs….I digress yet again.  Both will be showing new lines at market that will be shipping before the end of the year.  Make sure to ask to see them.
  • I was fortunate to have gotten a tour of the amazing large contest quilts from Bill Schroeder (who founded AQS and the National Quilt Museum with his lovely wife Meredith.  Both legends in Paducah and pioneers in the quilting world).  For me to see these quilts, it was like visiting one of the world famous museums in New York.  Each quilt was more beautiful than the next.  It is unreal to learn the amount of man or woman hours that go into making the quilts.  The hope of the quilter is to be able to take home some of the more than $120,000 in cash awards including the $20,000 Janome Best of Show.  That is some real moolah!
  • When you spend so much time looking at quilts and walking the show, you tend to get hungry.  Being the chunk that I am, I couldn’t avoid the temptations…..funnel cake, strawberry short cake served by boy scouts, fudge, bbq…need I say more.  I did some damage and enjoyed every second of it.

Those were some of the highlights from the show, but that was not it for me in Paducah.   I ventured over to the National Quilt Museum a couple blocks away.

The National Quilt Museum

The National Quilt Museum

You have to see this place.  The quilts are sick (meaning better than awesome).  I could go on and on about this and the amazing attention to details, but you need to see this on your own.  Not only that, but I am trying to keep the length of my blogs down because I want you to read the entire thing.  I hope you enjoyed this installment because I had fun writing it.  Happy Quilting!

Yours Truly,

Scott

SOMETIMES EVERYBODY WINS…

Hi, it’s Scott from Team Studioe. I just got off the phone with one of the contest winners from our first Studioe  Promotion, Kay Atkins who owns Thread’s N Treasures in Belleville, MI. It was so great to talk to her and hear the enthusiasm in her voice over our products, and how her shop and the customers she serves has changed since she won over $2300 in retail value of fabric.

I am 9 months in since taking over Studioe Fabrics, and bringing it to the New York office. I have worked very diligently on EVERY aspect of the business to really make some big changes and improvements in operations, sales, creative and getting the products to market. But the most humbling and powerful experience for me is to talk to shop owners like Kay. I love to hear the joy that resonates with shop owners in how the Studioe brand is taking hold and growing.

Kay won 12 bolts of fabric, and of course is excited that she won something of such significant value. But she has taken that fabric and increased the Studioe circle of customers in her shop. In this microcosm of what has happened in Michigan, I would like to see this happen in more shops across the country… explosive growth and the awareness and demand for our fabrics.  Join the team! And if you have a story of excitement you want to share, call me up too! I can always use a great phone call like the one from Kay!  My number is 800-294-9495 x218.

CONVERSATION WITH TEXTILE DESIGNER OF URBANISTA…BELINDA GEE

StudioFabrics is very lucky to have a group of designers who are so very talented, and provide so much passion to what they create. One of our designers, Belinda Gee, agreed to have a blog chat with us this week.

Listen here to a great conversation with Belinda, the designer of two of Studioe Fabrics great collections: Urbanista and Metropia.

She explains her personal process to getting from ideas to final design. Wonderful inspiration to those of us who enjoy the creative process.

-Vanessa

 

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/studioefabrics/2013/03/12/interview-with-belinda-gee

Note: we had technical difficulties which ended our talk abruptly at the 20 min mark, however, it was a great chat!

A REPORT FROM QUILTCON

QuiltCon was recently held in Austin, TX and Laura Gilvin, the Marketing and Product Development Manager of Studioe Fabrics was able to attend.  Did anyone else get to go? She came back with a new, clear and inspired understanding of the modern quilt movement and were amazed at the quilts they saw at the show.

Modern Quilt Guild has teamed with Craftsy.com to post lectures from the event for free, so you can see for yourself. http://www.craftsy.com/class/quiltcon-lecture-series-2013/194?expiredPreview=true

Today’s blog is an interview with Laura Gilvin, on her impressions of QuiltCon. First, an introduction to Laura. She has been designing quilts, quilt patterns, and working with our design team on the staff at Studioe Fabrics since its inception. She is an awesome quilter herself, and has been leading the charge toward a better understanding of what the concept of modern quilting truly has become.

Vanessa: Tell me your impressions of the QuiltCon event. Was it worth it? Did it meet your expectations?

Laura: It completely met my expectations.  I think it was the perfect balance between speakers doing lectures and the gallery of quilts. I think some people were surprised that is was so small, in fact much smaller than Quilt Market, but I expected it to be just about the size it was since this was the first conference of its kind.

Vanessa: What speaker were you most inspired by during the lecture portion of the event?

Laura: I loved both Jacquie Gering and Heather Grant. Jacquie is a relatively new quilter; she has only been quilting for 5 years. In her presentation we laughed and we cried as she shared the enjoyment of quilting and how it has personally affected her life. Her presentation had a very good enjoyment factor, because she was very personal in her approach. Heather Grant, Event and Marketing Manager of QuiltCon, provided great information about the causes and shifts that occurred in quilting, technology and culture that led to the birth of the modern quilting movement.  It was great to have the specific understanding of the modern quilt movement with solid definitions. She talked about how social media and the prevalence of the digital cameras and digital images caused this trend to grow as quickly and definitively as it has. Social media was a platform to share a new found love for this type of quilting.  With digital cameras people were quick to put their work on the web, and it spread by apps like Flickr and Shutterfly.

Vanessa: What new understanding of the movement has become crystal clear to you?

Laura: Well, one of the myths that was exploded was that modern quilting is for younger people. It is not. The modern quilting philosophy is a design philosophy and esthetic, but there are certain elements that are unique to the movement. One thing that stood out to me is freedom in construction.  Another is using an alternate grid, which is very different than the traditional approach. The third is form and function go hand in hand – quilt are to be used.

Vanessa: How do you think the modern quilt genre fits within traditional quilting?

Laura: One of the speakers, Heather Grant, described the concept very well in talking about how modern quilting and traditional quilting fit together. She said if the world of quilting is like a 3-legged stool, then traditional quilting has one leg, modern quilting has another, and art quilts would be the third.

Vanessa: How have you changed your own quilt design approach since attending QuiltCon?

Laura: Well, I can’t wait to put some of the ideas into designs of my own. Overall I am very excited about Modern Quilting, and because it is still a new trend, there is a place to stretch out in creating designs with a whole new influence.

SPRING QUILT MARKET – ONLY 86 DAYS UNTIL PORTLAND

We just had a planning meeting this morning about the Studioe Fabrics booth at Spring Quilt Market. While it seems like such a long way off, it is only 86 days away. Take away 24 weekend days, 62 lunch breaks, a couple vacation days, and it’s practically here!

We get so excited because we launch brand new collections at market, and shop owners get to see and touch the collections we introduced in January. On the website we will have a pre-show preview party, so if you can not make it to Portland, you can still get a peek at the latest Studioe collections. Be sure to LIKE us on FaceBook, or subscribe to our newsletter if you want to be invited.

http://www.studioefabrics.com/newsletter/subscribe/

Next week on Wednesday, we will have another episode of Studioe Fabrics on Blog Talk Radio where we will interview Megan Downer, our lead textile designer. Listen in at 10:00 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, February 27:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/studioefabrics/2013/02/27/interview-with-megan-downer

If you haven’t already, please come on over and LIKE our Facebook page!

https://www.facebook.com/StudioeFabrics

 

BLOG TALK RADIO – CONVERSATIONS WITH STUDIOE FABRICS AND PEPPER CORY

We had a live interview this morning with Pepper Cory, who is such a good sport, on Blog Talk Radio. So, she tells me, after the interview, that she was in broadcasting in school, and is a pro at this sort of thing. The list of what she does and knows goes on and on. We are lucky to have her on our team!

Listen in at: http://tobtr.com/s/4378107

 

– Vanessa

Q & A WITH PEPPER CORY ON THE NEW TOWN AND COUNTRY COLLECTION

Today I had the honor of being able to interview a quilt star in the industry, Pepper Cory. Pepper has become such a friend of the Studioe team that we feel like she is part of the family.  Having been a quilt maker since 1972, Pepper has long standing fame in the quilting industry.  She has been intrinsically involved in the quilting industry in many facets including: designing quilts, writing about quilts, teaching, demonstrating, championing others in the industry and at one time she even owned a quilt shop called Culpepper’s Quilts in East Lansing, MI.

Now she has added a new path to her long list of quilt industry trailblazing by designing a textile collection for Studioe, called Town & Country. The premise of the collection is based on her discovery of how taupe inspired color schemes work so well against brilliant colors and equally as well with black and whites. She studied the taupe trend and wrote an excellent article in the October 2012 edition of FabShop News issue, called “The Taupe Tide.”

Q: We are so excited about your Town and Country collection for Studioe Fabrics. What are your thoughts about the new line?

PC: The line is still currently on paper and it is just now at the mill getting made into fabric. I am very excited to see it come to life. I have enjoyed this rare opportunity to work with the lead textile artist at Studioe, Megan Downer. The relationship with Megan through this process has been very rewarding. She took my inspiration and design ideas and has come up with a palette of colors that you can dab a pen into and create a lovely piece on its own or meld with other colors to create something unique. This is a collection that if I saw it in the store, I would buy every bolt.

Q: Where did the ideas come from?

PC: I have always enjoyed the subdued palette of the taupe fabrics that were coming from Japan, though they didn’t call it taupe. The idea was to look at organic and natural elements and create a line that can go with many things. I love novelty prints, as they can be so fun, but they can also be quickly dated. I really like designing quilts myself. When I do, I like to start with a color focus and then you have to add in the medium tones, light tones and then find the darks that will blend. In this collection, all of those hues are present. There are designs that can be used to blend or accent in every color value.

Q: Are there two separate color ways in Town and Country or do you see the colors as all merging into one palette?

PC: That’s a good question. Town and Country is a collection that plays nicely with other colors.  This line, while neutral, has an echo of the homespun feel.  It is like something that could be achieved through natural dyes and the look of organics, but it’s produced with modern fade-proof dyes, of course. The color palette itself was truly a collaboration with Megan who brought the spectrum together while insuring that we covered both warm and cool colors. The warm rusts and beiges work very well with the blue-grays and blacks. I do see it as a cohesive look that would work equally as well with all the brights that are so popular right now. I think this collection would work very well in the modern quilt movement, which I love. It is also very appealing to traditional quilters who look for the homespun feel. That’s why this collection is so appropriately named. Town and Country is both modern and traditional, it is really timeless. This collection has very broad appeal.

Studioe would like to thank Pepper Cory for this interview today and we look forward to more conversations in the future.

The Town and Country line is now available to order at www.studioefabrics.com. With every full collection order, store owners will get a free Hexagon Quilt Kit, with 63 pre-cut hexagons. Delivery is August 2013.

 

TALES OF A FOURTH GENERATION TEXTILE EXECUTIVE

Where Did This Fabric Come From?

PART 3:  SNS SOUTH – DOUBLE AND ROLLING, BAGGING, STOCKING THE SHELVES, PICKING & PACKING AND FINALLY SHIPPING TO YOUR STORE.

Once received, the fabric is temporarily housed in the SNS warehouse, until they receive cutting instructions from us. Now the forklift drivers move the pallets of ROT (rolled on tube) fabric over to each of the different double and rollers a.k.a. cutters.  Below is a perfect picture of this.  As you can see on the lower left are the rolls of fabric waiting to be cut.  On the right side, you can see the young woman working the double and rolling machine.  If you look around her knee level (see arrow) you can see the roll of fabric.  That fabric is being held up by a rod that goes through the center of the tube that the fabric is rolled around.  The fabric is then weaved through the back of the machine and set up to be folded in half and then rolled on the cardboard bolt.  The next picture gives you a better idea of what the back of the machine looks like with the fabric going through.  The woman is moving the fabric through by using a foot pedal like in a car.

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The picture below clearly shows the double part of double and rolling of the 44 inch fabric. But then if you look closely, you can see that the fabric has now been folded in half.  It’s very subtle, but voila! Did you catch that?  I hope you saw it.

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While we are looking at this picture above, I wanted to point out to you how it works with the boards that the fabric is rolled on to.  If you look closely, there are two thin rods that go across.  The boards are secured on to the rods.  Thereafter, as the cutter presses his foot on the pedal to move the fabric through the machine, the rods with the board wind up and the fabric rolls right on perfectly.  If you look on the buggy where the cutter is leaning down, you can see all the other red fabric that he has already doubled and rolled.  There is a little meter telling the cutter how much fabric is on the board and he follows whatever the cutting instructions are.  It is one person’s job in our office to put together the cutting instructions for the plant based on how we have sold the fabric…usually 8, 10, 12 or 15 yard put ups.  The cutting instructions are very important to follow because if they are not followed accordingly, we end up with piece sizes that our customers didn’t order.  Don’t you hate when that happens?  I sure do!

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THIS IS HOW THE BOARDS ARE BOUGHT BEFORE BEING ASSEMBLED -THIS WOMAN IS PUTTING A LABEL ON THE BOARD END

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EACH END OF THE BOARD IS FOLDED IN AND THAT’S IT (NOTE BOARD IS 23”)

 I am exhausted…this is not easy work.  So now the fabric is double and rolled on boards and loaded on to buggies.  From there, the fabric waits on buggies until it is time for the fabric to be bagged.  This is a neat little process.  I think the photos will best tell the story.   Below there is a woman who is taking the fabric and putting it onto the conveyor belt to be poly bagged.  Before she puts it on to the conveyor belt she takes a high pressured hand blower and makes sure there is no dust or debris on the fabric.  Essentially what happens is that the fabric goes through a tube of plastic (like saran wrap) and then it gets melted by going through a hot machine and then it gets cooled off by going under a fan.  After that, the plastic is spliced and the fabric is perfectly sealed and will stay nice and clean.  It could probably survive a hurricane.  As you can see on the last picture, the gentleman takes the fabric and packs it back on to the buggie.

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WOMAN SETTING FABRIC ONTO CONVENYOR BELT SO FABRIC CAN BE BAGGED

 

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FABRIC GOING INTO THE POLYWRAP

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FABRIC COVERED WITH POLYBAG HEADING INTO HEATING MACHINE

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FABRIC COMING OUT OF HEATING MACHINE

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POLYWRAP BEING COOLED

 

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FABRIC BEING LOADED BACK ON TO BUGGY

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AFTER BAGGING, FABRICS ARE PUT ON SHELVES LIKE THESE

When all the bagging is complete, all the bagged fabrics are loaded on to the shelves.  Now the fabrics are waiting to be picked and boxed to be shipped to your store.  What happens now is that we transmit the orders by computer to SNS South and they print the orders.  Then they take the orders and start pulling the fabrics that are requested on each order and once again they are loaded on to buggies.  The buggies are then moved over to shipping and a crew puts the fabric in the boxes and seals them up to be shipped out.  Each day, UPS, FEDEX and other carriers park their trucks at the docks and the team at SNS fills them up accordingly.  Once the trucks are filled, they are off and the cycle is almost complete.  Now, all that needs to happen:

  • Fabric arrives at your store.
  • You unpack boxes and take off the polywrap.
  • You price the fabric.
  • You put the fabric on the shelves…hopefully the Studioe goes in the best spot J.
  • You sell the fabric to a customer.
  • The customer goes home and makes something gorgeous.
  • Now we can all sleep better!
  • Then you come in the next to and make sure to set up another appointment with your Studioe rep so that you can get more of this well traveled and great selling fabric.

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ORDERS WAITING TO BE PACKED

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BOXES OF ORDERS WAITING TO BE SHIPPED

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TRUCKS WAITING TO BE FILLED

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JIMMY FEY….OUR SAVIOR AT SNS SOUTH