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

 

TALES OF A FOURTH GENERATION TEXTILE EXECUTIVE Blog #1, Part A: Where Did This Fabric Come From?

Hello Studioe Fans! 

I am Scott Fortunoff, the new president and sales manager of Studioe Fabrics.

In light of my new role at Studioe, I wanted to start a new blog installment called “Tales of a Fourth Generation Textile Executive.” During the year, I plan to fill you in on a variety of subjects and tales related to the over-the-counter textile market.  I hope that you will find the blog to be unique, insightful and interesting.  Please feel free to ask questions and make comments.  I will do my best to answer your questions in a timely fashion.

TALES OF A FOURTH GENERATION TEXTILE EXECUTIVE

Blog #1, Part A:  Where Did This Fabric Come From?

PART 1:  CHINA TO KOREA, KOREA TO NEW YORK, NEW YORK TO CHARLESTON

As I travel more and more with the Studioe sales reps showing the Studioe lines and meeting with quilt shop owners around the US, there are a couple of questions that I continue to hear over and over again:

“How far does the fabric travel to finally get onto my store shelf?”

“What does your warehouse look like?”

“How does the fabric get double and rolled onto the bolt?”

Wonder no more!  In this blog, I will answer those questions and much more, as we follow the fabric along it’s path to your door.

In order to get the process going, you must have greige goods, actually pronounced “gray” (raw fabric before dyeing or bleaching).  The greige goods come from many different mills, but one in particular that we often use is the Wei Chaw Mill near Shanghai, China (see map of Shanghai below).

MAP OF SHANGHAI AREA

The greige goods travel by boat in bale packing (see image below) and approximately 100,000 yards fit into a full container.

 

BALES OF COTTON

It takes about one week for the greige goods to reach the Pusan Port in Korea (see image below).  Once reaching the port, the greige goods are unloaded from the containers and cleared through customs.  The mills must pay a 10% duty in order for the greige goods to be released.

PORT OF PUSAN, KOREA

At this point, the greige goods are brought, by container truck, to the printing plant in Daegu, Korea (see map below).  This takes approximately four hours.  It’s now been about 7-10 days since the greige goods have been acquired and they finally arrive at the printing plant.  First, the greige goods go through a bleaching process in order to get the fabric to a consistent form….all white and nice without any cotton seed or dirt or blemishes.

After the bleaching is complete, the goods dry and then they are prepared to be printed.   The mill in Daegu uses both flat bed and rotary machine printing.  There are too many details to go into, so take my word that this is an intense process of color matching, press alignment, and all the rest of the inner workings that goes on to make a great print.  After printing, the goods are inspected, and any part of the fabric with design or thread flaws are cut out of the lot.  The printed fabric then gets rolled on to larger tubes (a.k.a. rot or rolled on tubes).  After the rolls are all prepared, they are placed in plastic bags and loaded on to the pallets (see photo below).

ROT on PALLETS

 

 

These rolls can range from 60-250 yards depending on the mill and customer requests.  Our company prefers larger rolls because then we end up with fewer short pieces.  For example, if the roll is 75 yards and we are cutting 15 yard pieces, we would hope to get 5 bolts. But if there is a seam that has to be cut out, we end up with 4 good/standard bolts and one odd sized, non-standard bolt.  On the other hand, if the roll is 250 yards, we are much more likely to end up with around 16 standard bolts which is a much better result.

Now that the fabric is palletized, it needs to take the four hour trip back to the Port of Pusan, by container truck, and from there the container needs to be loaded on to a ship to the U.S.  The quantity of fabric will determine how the goods are to be shipped.  If we have about 70,000 yards or less to ship, the goods would have to travel LCL (less than a container load).  If it is LCL, our goods may be mixed with another fabric vendor’s goods.  On the other hand, if we have 80,000 yards to ship, that quantity can go by itself in our own 20 foot container. Moreover, if we have 130,000 to 140,000 yards, that can go in a 40 foot container (see below).

20 FOOT CONTAINER  or 40 FOOT CONTAINER

We prefer to have a full container because that way we can control our own destiny, like the timing, port of entry, type of carrier and so on.    However, with LCL, we are at the mercy of someone else.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that we have enough fabric to fill a full container, but we try our best as we like to have control.

All aboard to the U.S. of A.!  Then, a mere 20-25 days later the boat arrives at the Port of New York.  From the Port of New York, the goods can travel in any of the following ways to Charleston, South Carolina:

By boat to Charleston, by truck to Charleston, by boat to Atlanta and then Charleston, or by truck to Atlanta and then Charleston.

However the fabric gets to Charleston, it finally gets  cleared through customs and then travels by truck to Seneca, South Carolina.  Welcome to SNS SOUTH!

 

 

To be Continued….. 

 

 

 

 

TALES OF A FOURTH GENERATION TEXTILE EXECUTIVE Part B: Where Did This Fabric Come From?

PART 2:  SNS SOUTH, UNLOADING, UNPACKING, DOUBLE AND ROLLING, BAGGING, STOCKING THE SHELVES, PICKING & PACKING AND FINALLY SHIPPING TO YOUR STORE.

 

Is there anybody out there? Hi!  It’s me, Scott.  I’m back!  From the multitude of comments, emails, phone calls, death threats (note sarcasm) that I have been receiving in response to my first blog installment of Tales of a 4th Generation Textile Executive, it seems quite clear that legions of quilters around the world are waiting on the edge of their seats for my next installment (note sarcasm again).  The irony of the whole thing is that my social media guru, Vanessa, keeps begging me to write the blog… as if anyone is going to read it.  “Just trying to stay with the schedule Scott” she keeps saying.  I get it Vanessa.  The only thing more depressing than the number of people reading my blog is that I, being “Mr. Studioe” have like 60 friends on Facebook.  Who knew that one day our self-worth would be measured by the number of Facebook friends we have?  What is this world coming to?

Enough with the digression….sorry!  To kick things off in Part 2 of “Where Did This Fabric Come from?” I am going to send a free fat quarter bundle of our beautiful basic Watermark line to the first person that makes a comment about this blog.  I don’t even care what your comment is, just say something, anything…..pretty please.

Now that our greige goods have been shipped, dyed, printed, packed and shipped again, they have finally arrived at SNS South at 1631b Sandifer Boulevard in South Carolina (see that little red dot on the map below).

SNS South

 

Entrance to SNS South – Seneca, South Carolina

Two Large Main Buildings at SNS South

SNS South is comprised of two massive buildings as you can see from the photos above.  Each of the buildings is further subdivided into about 4 large rooms with different customer’s fabrics and required machinery in each room.  In addition, SNS has two other facilities.  One is SNS West which is in Fontana, California.  SNS West is where a lot of fleece is double and rolled for many U.S.  fabric vendors.  Double and rolling in California helps to save on the freight expense by not having to ship the fleece cross country.  The other SNS facility is in Clifton, NJ.  This facility is called, you guessed it, SNS North.  In total, the SNS facilities comprise of over 1 million square feet in the whole country.  If you have a shop in the U.S., it is highly likely that you have received fabric that was handled by one of the SNS facilities, as they have many fabric convertors as their customers.

SNS is not owned by any one fabric convertor, but rather, SNS is a contract warehouse.  They charge a fee for doing whatever it takes to get fabric in, rolled or packaged, and then shipped out to customers worldwide.  As mentioned in Part 1 of the blog, my family did own a converting plant or two at one point.  However, we have learned that it is a lot easier to contract out the work than to have to deal with the problems and stresses of having a warehouse,  especially one that is not nearby.  SNS performs the service of cutting the fabric, rolling onto boards, applying labels, and packing on pallets.  Everything they do is factored into a single price that is attached to the cost of a yard of fabric. Costs of their services usually ranges anywhere from 15-25 cents per yard depending on various factors like:

  • Width of fabric. i.e. 44/45” vs. 60”, 90” or 108”.
  • Weight of fabric i.e. fleece is more expensive than flannel or quilting cottons.
  • Size of the double and rolled pieces i.e. an 8 yard bolt would cost more than a 10 or 12 yard bolt.
  • Boxes used to ship out fabric i.e. recycled vs. brand new.
  • Who the ultimate customer is i.e. quilt stores vs. chains.
  • How good of a customer you are at SNS – meaning the amount of volume performed each year.

Take a look at this photo below of the loading docks and just picture 3 different trucks backed in there with their rear doors open so that the SNS employees can go inside the trucks and unload all the fabrics.  Sometimes when the fabrics come in on the trucks they come in nice and neat on pallets which are easily removed with forklifts (see two forklifts below).  Other times, the goods could come in loose in which case the workers have to unload the trucks by hand and load the fabric on to pallets (see photo below).

Docks where goods are removed from trucks

Large forklift moving pallets of fabric

 

Small forklift at SNS South

 

Loose rolls piled onto pallets

 

After the trucks are unloaded, the truckers leave the facility and are off to their next job.  Now comes the most important part of the entire process…..the fabrics have to be double and rolled.  Essentially what this means is that the fabrics are folded in half on the width (half of 44/45” inches) and are rolled on to 23” boards.  For 108” wide goods, we us 27” boards.  Most vendors in the fabric industry use machinery to double and roll the fabrics.  Interestingly enough, two years ago when I went to India I learned that some of the goods there are double and rolled by hand.  The workers just sit on the floor and patiently roll the fabric.  I am sure it won’t be long before they get some double and rolling machines. It is much quicker when it’s automated. Next post, we will see the automation of doubling and rolling the fabric! Stay tuned!

NEW, NEW, NEW AND ALL OTHER THINGS NEW.

We are in the process of unpacking our big ‘ole suitcases from the Houston Quilt Market. You probably are doing the same, right? It turns out that our suitcase is now full of new ideas, inspiration and tricks. There is so much to discover at the quilt market and while there is just NO WAY to absorb it all, there are some very important take-away ideas that we want to share with you.

Most importantly, we hope you noticed that Studioe has an entirely NEW presence that created a buzz at the Houston market!  Did you hear it? We are essentially brand new in our management, our designs, our marketing and our aggressive Free Freight sales promotion for our quilt shop owners.

First the new management: Scott Fortunoff, the fourth generation of a long-standing New York textile family, is at the helm of Studioe as the new president and sales manager. The vitality of the Fortunoff family is no secret to the fabric world, having seen the success of Henry Glass Fabrics, A.E. Nathan Co., Inc, Jaftex Corp., The New Stylemaker and Fabric Editions, Inc. (This Fortunoff family has no relation to the retail chain on the east coast).

Scott’s ambition for the lines, the designs and the promotion of Studioe is a force as strong as the winds of Hurricane Sandy, but a lot kinder.  Scott’s personality is such that he tries to meet and talk to all our customers whether in person, on the phone or by email.  Did you get a chance to meet him yet?  If you didn’t see him in action at School House, Sample Spree or at the Studioe booth, you should make an effort to meet him as he would like to get to know each and every one of you.Second the designs: Megan Downer, a lovely soft spoken woman and thoughtful designer is leading the new team in New York. She coordinates designs from the talented bevy of licensed designers on Team Studioeand is looking to build her team.  Her first major acquisition was to sign Pepper Cory up to design a taupe inspired line called Town & Country.  Megan is on the prowl for more designers so expect more promising additions. The eight lines introduced at market are the result of Megan’s dedication to getting the design team in high gear, in spite of having a major surgery in the midst of it all.

 

Finally, but certainly not all….the spirit of Team Studioe is strong with the many talents of people like Laura Gilvin and Vanessa Denniston (“V”) in marketing, advertising and social media.  They work to get the quilt patterns made by our outside pattern designers, they design all of the advertisements, they are working to build our social media presence, they built our new website and so much more. They are the behind the scenes workers who bring the fabric to life and to market and are keys to the success of Studioe. There are a lot of hands and minds that touch the Studioe name and we are all dedicated to bringing the Studioe brand into a new era, with all things new for you.  We hope you like our new direction and appreciate your support.

Happy Quilting!

Team Studioe

STUDIO E GOES TO MARKET!

Kansas City was a huge success! The new lines and the booth were well received by shop owners across the country. Our new lead designer, Megan Downer, and Studio e leader, Scott Fortunoff ,  posed for a quick candid shot during one of the few moments of lull in the Studio e booth.

Our booth this year featured a quilting challenge to some well known quilters to use the Studio e Essentials line of fabrics to create a piece that would be featured in the “gallery” of the Studio e booth. Here are some pictures of the wonderful pieces. Congratulations to all our quilting stars for a great show in Kansas!