Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: The Deal Of A Lifetime!

Hello Friends!

It happened!  The rumors are all true!  Yes, my family is buying FreeSpirit in the deal of a lifetime.  While I was out enjoying vacation with my wife and kids for school break, my dad, Robert (3rd generation), and brother, Greg (4th generation), pulled off what I think will be our most pivotal acquisition ever (we have had around 15-20 companies under our Jaftex umbrella in our 88 years in business.)  They put this all together on their own in record time because they wanted me to not be bothered on my family vacation.  That is what a family business is all about.  With support staff, lawyers, accountants and the lovely and professional team at Coats, they pulled a rabbit out of a hat.  Bravo guys!

It’s not everyday that you get a chance to buy one of the premier players in the industry.  I mean, where do I even start?  Kaffe Fassett and his collective!  Boom!   Tula!  Anna!  Amy! (Omg, I can’t wait to meet them all!) Also, there is The Original Morris & Co.!  I can keep going, but you don’t need me to tell you because these are your idols.  These people are quilting royalty or “machers” as I like to call them.  For all those that watch the Saturday Night Live Coffee Talk series, I must say that I am completely and utterly verklempt (in Yiddish that means a person that is so overwhelmed that they can’t speak.) I mean, over the top excited and I don’t even know where to begin.  This is going to give our family so much credibility as an industry leader.  We are now in an ideal position to push the #sewrevolution agenda and quilting for the fifth and sixth generations of Fortunoffs.

Henry Glass!  Studioe!  Blank Quilting!  Scott’s Free Sewing Machines!  Fabric Editions & A.E.  Nathan Co., Inc.! #sewrevolution!  All of our partners in the US and worldwide including Stof of Denmark, Sykel Fabrics, Air-Lite Batting, Oasis Fabrics, 3 Wishes, Quilter’s Palette & Ellie’s Quiltplace of Belgium.  All of our employees.  All of our sales reps.  I hope I didn’t leave anyone out….sorry if I did.  This is just so exciting.  I hope it is very clear that we are committed…..to the insane asylum….did I say that out loud?  But seriously, if this doesn’t show the world how we feel about this amazing industry, I just don’t know what will.

So without boring you to death, let’s jump right to the chase.  FreeSpirit is back and is going to be better than ever.  The sales reps will have loads of beautiful fabrics to show.   We will be at Quilt Market in Portland.  We will be at the VDTA Show.  If you are wondering if we will be there, the answer is yes, yes and yes again.

I welcome with open arms the opportunity to add FreeSpirit to our stable of well known brands.  I am going to learn a lot from this company and that is an exciting prospect for me as I grow as a fourth generation textile executive.  I am always pushing to be a better businessman and this deal will certainly help to propel me to the next level.

We are blessed to have retained most, if not all, of the licensing talent and the staff at FreeSpirit.  We are just under a new and improved management.  There will be some changes no doubt, but those changes will focus on managing costs better and letting people know that FreeSpirit is here to stay and is as stable as ever.  You could rely on us, our basics, our quality, our top notch designers and designing, our team, me, my family and so much more.  I could go on and on, but I know I had you at “hello.”  Please help to welcome the FreeSpirit team to the Jaftex team!

Thanks for your support.

Scott, proud son and brother.

P.S.  What do you have to say about that?

P.S.S..…Here is where you can find my Executive Facebook page.

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694 words including these.

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.

126 thoughts on “Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: The Deal Of A Lifetime!”

  1. This is absolutely the best news! I am super excited for this and know whole-heartedly that the industry will benefit from this acquisition. We are all winners here! When the dreadful announcement was made by Coats, I secretly hoped that this would be the outcome. I mean, we’ve been talking about a revolution, right? This is a major step in the right direction to make this happen. Congratulations to all of you! Well done! What a great way to start the week.

  2. As the chief cook and bottle washer of the the Kaffe Fassett Collective, we want you to know that we, too, are verklempt. Thanks for being our white knights!

    1. We will be depending on you for our quality control source. Hoping it will remain at the level of quality that we rely on or even greater if that is possible. Thanks for your great input.

  3. I read this rumor but was afraid to believe it until I saw it here…my favorite designers now with my favorite fabric corporation…this can only be a win/win for all of us!

  4. Awesome! I love my Jaftex Family and I am so very proud to be a licensed designer for The Blank Quilting Corp. Welcome FreeSpirit Team! This is the new beginning! Thanks Robert and Greg!

  5. Thank you! I was so afraid these wonderful fabric artists would be split up and signed to different companies, and the quality we’ve come to know and love would be lost. I need to ask, will the Free Spirit Solids line continue as well? The hand of those Solids is so lovely and suited to garments as well as quilting.

  6. OMFG! (My secret wish and desire is to create a patriotic themed Kaffee quilt!)

    Congrats! the upbeat excitement passion and dedication you bring to this industry is wonderful! I am so excited for you and your family and this new adventure that I get to follow y’all on!

  7. Totally over the moon about this…. free spirit has been on of my favorite brands! I was very much saddened when it was announced it was to be no more, but Jaftex put a smile back on my face! I am just so over the moon happy. Thank you and congratulations.

  8. I think I was the last person to win fabric from Free Spirit because the next day they said they were done! Thank you for saving these companies! Looking forward to the future!! Salute!!!!

  9. As a relatively new quilter (less than 2 years) I’ll admit that I hadn’t previously heard much about the Jaftex family of fabrics, but I am a fan of Tula Pink and AnnaMaria Horner and Amy Butler and Kaffe Fassett, and have been following the recent FreeSpirit news. Congratulations! You’re not only bringing a lot of great designers into the fold, but their loyal fans as well! I look forward to checking out Studio E and the other brands in the future!

  10. This is so cool! I had in the back of mind that you might pick up at least some of the designers. I have been a fan of Studioe since I did their machine quilting for market in their first year.

  11. Scott, afraid I don’t know Yiddish, just a little Cajun. Since Jaftex is already so awesome, in these parts, we’d say adding Free Spirit to the team is “Laignaippe” (pronounced lan-yap). It means a little something extra – a bonus.

  12. So excited to have you as our new team! Thrilled that the legacy will continue!! As a Licensing agent that has represented a number of your artist over the years, I’m so happy that my most recent artist, Amy Reber, can still call Free Spirit home! Look forward to working together.

  13. To say I am excited is an understatement, congratulations.
    When I read the news about the close of FreeSpirit my heart sank, purchasing good quality fabric is difficult in Australia at the best of times but this closure would have made it a hundred times worse.
    Now this, what else to say but thank you, also I’m so happy that the designers and employees will be “safe” as well.

  14. What awesome news! I look forward to all the new happenings to come and to see Free Spirit become a much stronger viable company. The talented designers of this label were like no others on the market. We the sewing/quilting community have breathed a collective sign of happiness and relief.

  15. Absolutely love your enthusiasm for the future of the fabric / sewing industry!
    We need more people like you pushing for positive change and forward motion, Scott. More people sewing and creating benefits everyone and ensures your business and others will be around for future generations.
    Thank you for your family’s commitment to beautiful textiles!
    #sewrevolution

  16. You gentlemen have allowed a group of the most wonderful and talented designers to stay in a supportive and stable environment to allow them to do what they do best….. design! And you can fix the issues behind the curtain which needed dealing with. Bravo!

  17. As a quilter, I am profoundly grateful that your family saw how great this move would be and brought FreeSpirit back from the edge! God Bless you all in the new journey ahead! So wonderful for all of us ❤️!!

  18. will you be keeping distribution staff and location as well? Concerned about those 80 or so former co-workers whose jobs are on the line.

  19. Thank you for your commitment to this industry. The quilting community is a strong purchasing agent. If you are strong in the international market in Bulgaria, Greece, Rommai, Turkey ….. I will be there teaching quilting. Looking to open store front. Opportunity is power … wishing you the best.

  20. Scott, I am out of breath just reading your excited post! Whew! So very happy for you and your wonderful family. The move is one of sheer brilliance. I KNEW I should have gotten your autograph when we met at Christie’s! Seriously though, Jaftex has put action behind their words to start a sewing revolution and it speaks volumes to your character. Way to go and I can’t wait to see these ripples turn into tsunamis!

  21. This is simply amazing and I can feel the excitement from the words you wrote! I adore Henry Glass fabrics and Free Spirit Will be a perfect match for your company! Onwards and upwards!

  22. Such exciting news!!! A family operated business – that can only be great news for the fabric Designers and for us fabric oholics who love to buy! Yay!! So happy !!!

  23. So so happy that these companies will not go away. I have made several quilts using Tana Mueller’s Blank fabrics. Thank you. Judy Gordon

  24. Mazel Tov!!
    Your letter is delightful and sounds like an acceptance speech at the Academy Awards.
    Your excitement, energy and commitment to these important fabric lines shines through.
    And I am sure the mishegoss your company is going thru, will all be worth it.

  25. So excited for the Kaffe Fassett Collective and ALL the other fabulous designers of quality textiles!! You will already have a built-in, solid fan base with Free Spirit.
    My Motto: Onward and Upward!
    Denise Shook Jones
    San Diego, CA, USA
    P.S. Since you seem to be the ultimate “miracle workers”, can you do something about our President? LOL!

  26. Another lesson in when one door closes, another opens! Congratulations on your acquisition!!! I’m a quilter and art quilter with an eye on fabric all the time. Kaffe fabrics make me drool….and I have quite the collection waiting for that perfect inspiration. Tula..oh my. Her fabrics are wonderful, on and on and on and you, my dear Scott, and your family may have made a great deal, but we’re tagging along for the ride. Thanks for grabbing this opportunity to practically seamlessly continue the tradition of wonderful designs and fabrics for these designers and for us, the consumers.

  27. Wow Scott, what an amzing response! Congratulations to you and your family, this truly is the deal of a lifetime. Verklempt totally sums it up!
    As a quilter living in far off New Zealand, this news that broke yesterday couldn’t have been more welcome.
    Please, if you can, consider bringing out some of the old catalogue lines that have gone out of production. You would make millions of fabric fanatics extremely happy!
    One more thing, lately the quality of the cotton has become very thin and frays easily when handled. As you can imagine, for quilters who are cutting small pieces and handling them often, this becomes a real problem.
    But I do not want to take away from you and your Verklempt joy!
    Congratulations!
    I look forward to further announcements !
    Cheers
    Kiwi Kymberly

    1. Thanks for your comment kymberly. One day at a time. People keep talking about quality but I don’t know if most people realize that most of the big players are all shipping from the same mills and using the same greige goods.

  28. Impressive! All the way around!

    Wow, I’m so thrilled to know that FreeSpirit landed in good hands. Congratulations to you and your family. Selfishly, I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief and beaming from ear to ear. 🙂

    Thank you so much, Scott, for this marvelous news!

  29. Thank you, thank you! Many of us have been worried about what was going to happen, now we know we’ll still be able to buy the quality we’re used to having.

  30. I’m just learning about all these great designers! Heard from a dear friend that was so concerned about the outcome. Just made my first quilt using Kaffe fabrics and they’re the bomb! I wish you all the best luck in the world! So exciting.

  31. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I didn’t know how I was going to buy enough fabric to last me for the rest of my life if these people were not around. Now I can finally go to bed and sleep. WHEW, what a relief! I wish your company only the very best as you go forward with these new additions!!!

  32. Well done, what a fantastic exciting future, and Scott, it been a pleasure to see you respond to every comment and the time and effort that takes. Engaging with you customer base this way, makes us loyal to your organisation and brands. Looking forward to what amazing things will come next

  33. Best news ever!! Best of luck in your new acquisition! I love Kaffe! The thought of losing those gorgeous fabrics was too much! THANK YOU!!

  34. We were so excited to hear that our friends at Free Spirit have joined a new and wonderful family! The perfect match! Congratulations to you Scott and to your family for recognizing this once in a lifetime opportunity! May all your wishes come true!
    Steve Palmer

  35. Although I design fabric with another company – I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for awhile and especially your take on the quilting industry. I’m pleased that your family will be taking the helm at Free Spirit and I look forward to more energetic blog posts to come!!

      1. I’m an independent designer for Benartex. I love that the fabric/quilting industry is so supportive of each other. Rather than viewing other companies as competition, it makes me happy that the culture is one of wanting everyone to succeed 🙂 Thanks for being a part of that!!

  36. SO happy to hear that my love affair with all thing Kaffe can continue. I do hope you can get back to the Kaffe Westminster fabric. It was so soft, such a beautiful hand. You didn’t have to wash it before you had a lovely soft quilt. The Free Spirit is not as nice. Trying to wait patiently for the new Kaffe designs to get to the stores, Best , Sue

  37. I recently met Kaffe and Brandon at a quilting workshop they held in Sydney Australia. Fabulous men, with such passion for colour and design – it was contagious! I was devastated for them both when I heard the news about Free Spirit closing up, and dreading the thought of not having access to their fabrics any more. Thanks you for saving us all – I’m so relieved to know my quilting world will continue to be a bright and happy place.

  38. Hi Scott
    Great news about acquiring Free Spirit! I own a small Bead shop but my first love is quilting!
    And now my daughter, Cait, who has recently learned how to sew wants to learn to make quilts. We are lucky enough to have several quilt stores in the CT area. I would like to honor my daughter by recommending her for a donated sewing machine. She has Epilepsy and diabetes that she has with daily since she was four years old, the diabetes came later in her 20s. And because of her seizures, it affects her memory and learning can be difficult.
    She always has to stay vigilant with her sugar levels because sudden spikes or drops she can have a seizure. But you wont hear her complain about it, she takes it all in stride and has learned to readapt her life to her disabilities. She had to quit working in hair salons (hairstylist) as the stress, the chemicals, would trigger a seizure. She isnt allowed to drive so relies on family and friends.
    She is on disability So her income is limited so affording a sewing machine on her own is not in the budget. She recently learned how to sew, gift certificate at a sewing school, and she picked up sewing like a natural. She made a pillow and saw my quilt books which she now wants to learn how to make quilts. I think she would be great at it.
    She organizes fund raisers for the Diabetes and Epilepy Foundation. She educates people about what epilepsy is and what it is not so people arent afraid of it, afraid of her. The amazing thing is she has gone through alot but still gets up in the morning and believes today will be a good day. Im very proud of her, as you can see.

  39. I am so excited! You have made my husband and I very happy. We operate an Etsy/Amazon/Shopify business where we make and sell products that use these fabrics. Your family has saved the day!

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