Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: So Much To Learn At Quilt Market

Each quilt market is a life experience in and of itself.  I always learn so much about this industry, business, life, people, social media, the world, selling, buying and the list goes on.

Here are some things I learned while speaking with customers, co-workers, competitors and sages of the industry…..you know, those guys that have been in the fabric business for a lifetime and are a wealth of knowledge.  Kind of like my dad who has worked for over 50 years in fabrics, or like so many others that I spent time with at market chatting about all the changes taking place, the challenges and how fast everything is happening.   It is remarkable how fast things are moving.

On the blogging front I received so much constructive and valuable feedback. For example, I was challenged to make up my mind about who my blog audience really is.  Is it consumers or shop owners?  Hmmm, that was an excellent question.  Well, I didn’t consider my audience as much as I considered my blog brand name:  Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive (TOAFGTE). That is my mantra and I am sticking to it.  Am I being selfish?   It’s always about you Scott.  You sound like my wife.

Anyhow, these are my stories, 50 or so a year, take them or leave them. Read them or don’t read them.  I will just continue to kick that can down the road for now.  Selfish again? I just can’t please everyone. I do acknowledge the suggestion and appreciate the constructive criticism, but I am sticking with my guiding (TOAFGTE) force.

Another suggestion I heard was that I should avoid the grinchy and negative blogs.  I can live with that suggestion because no one cares to hear about my problems, but maybe on the other hand they do.  Usually my most grinchy blogs stimulate the most comments and discussions. That being said, the lawyer in me wants to retort that I am just not happy with everything all the time and I like to tell it how it is without sugar coating. Unfortunately, life is not always filled with rainbows and ice cream, although that would be fantastic.  If you want happy boring Scott, I guess I will have to give in to that one the best I can.  I am going to need to order more happy pills.  I freaking hate happy boring Scott and I am not sure that you will like him either.  Anyway…I guess we will have to wait it and out see.

Another suggestion was to write shorter blogs and newsletters.  (I write those too for SE & BQC in case you were wondering).  You want shorter? You got it.

TO BE CONTINUED……….

The Blank Blog Bonanza (BBB): Monthly Specials For May & June 2017

Dear Valued Customer,

Below are the details for the newest BBBs.  These BBBs apply to orders that are taken in May & June of 2017 only, but the orders DO NOT have to ship in May or June (they can ship anytime, except where specifically indicated below). Please note that all prior BBBs are now done and these are the only ones that are in effect. Here goes:

#1.  PRECUT SPECIAL:  Buy one set of precuts and get the second set of the same precut from the same line for free.  Please refer to your sales rep’s pricelist to see what is available for this special as some precuts are now sold out and discontinued.  This special does not apply to American Honor or Natural Treasures fat quarters.

#2.   44″ QUILTING COTTONS:  These are really good folks, so please pay close attention!

  • DECEMBER DELIVERY FULL COLLECTION SPECIAL:  Buy any full 12 yard May release collection for a December ONLY delivery and pay just $.10/yard (ten cents) for shipping.  Buy any full 15 yard May release collection for a December ONLY delivery and you will get free freight.
  • SUMATRA BATIK SPECIAL:  Buy any 8 bolts of Sumatra batiks and get a free order of Sumatra strips (4 pieces per order).  If you buy 16 bolts, you get 2 free orders of strips and so on.
  • BASIC LINE SPECIAL:  Buy 8 or more bolts of any of these basics for one shipment and save $.25/yard (twenty five cents).  You can mix and match for this special:  Crystalline, Fusion Illusion,  Honeystone Hill, Intermix, Pearl Dot, Pearl GridPrimitive Basics (On top of the already discounted sale price.  Colors are limited), Splash or Starlet.
  • ECLIPSE SOLID SPECIAL:  Buy 4 or more bolts of any of the Eclipse solids for one shipment and save $.25/yard (twenty five cents).  The order still must meet the regular 5 bolt minimum.
  • STOF MELANGE BASIC SPECIAL:  Buy 8 bolts or more of any of the Stof Melange Basics and save $.25/yard (twenty five cents).  These must ship anywhere from September 2017-November of 2017.  If you buy all 81 of the Stof Melange Basics over 3 shipments or less starting in September and shipping every month OR every other month, you save $.65/yard (sixty five cents).  YES 65 CENTS!  If you take all 81 for one shipment from September 2017 to November 2017, we will also only charge you $.10/yard (ten cents) for freight. If you ship all 81 colors in December, the order will ship freight free.  GO FOR IT!

#3.  108″ FABRICS:  Buy 8 bolts, mix and match, of 108″ fabric and get the 9th one for free. This applies to all 108″ lines EXCEPT Hopscotch 108″, Pearl Grid 108″ and Plush 2 ply flannel 108″. However, if you buy 8 bolts, mix and match, of Hopscotch 108″, Pearl Grid 108″ or Plush 2 ply flannel 108″, you can get the 9th bolt free.

We hope that you continue to take advantage of the BBBs.

Contact your Blank sales rep to place an order or contact customer service at 800-294-9495 x245 (Renee)
To Monthly Specials!
Your Blank Quilting Sales Team

 

Meet Tana Mueller, designer of American Honor and more…

“To be born in a place is to be of that place, and to be born in Texas is to be part of a diverse and proud people who believe themselves to be different, carrying on a tradition of a fierce and glorious past.”

Fierce and glorious. This could be the definition of Tana Mueller, the designer of the American Honor collection that has stirred emotions and brought viewers to tears simply by looking at the poignant images from the line.

That’s exactly what happened when the line was first launched at quilt market last spring. Scott Fortunoff, President of The Blank Quilting Corp., was showing the American Honor collection to a shop owner, whom we have affectionately named Soldier S, when she began to weep. She was previously a soldier and the designs in the collection meant so much to her. Sparked by this raw emotion, the brainstorming for the American Honor Quilt Challenge began.

As we wrap up a year-long effort this week with the final voting, we felt it was time to give kudos to Tana. As the designer of the line, she has her own story to tell. She herself has 22 years of public service behind her as a law enforcement officer on patrol, and also as a police academy instructor.

As a matter of fact, when she was putting pencil to paper on her new collection called “Thin Blue Line” ( a tribute to law enforcement), she had to put the crayon down from her own grief. One of the rookies she had trained lost his life in the Dallas shootings on July 8, 2016.  It is a sad fact of her past service in law enforcement, but Tana has personally known many police officers over the years that have been killed in the line of duty. When she focused on the work she was doing in these designs for Thin Blue Line  they were completed with a new fervor. She has created this collection for the fallen, their families and for law enforcement officers that protect and serve every day. “They know what the job is when they go in,” she says. “And they would all do it again.”

Here is a sneak peek of one image from the collection which will be released in May for sale.

 

It is very special when your designs move people’s hearts.  “There are so many wonderful stories behind everything that has happened since American Honor was released,” she said. She has personally framed and donated several pieces of the fabric’s two lead prints: the cross with boots and the eagle.

“The first prints I received I had the two leads framed and gave it to the manager of the Starbucks store where I often meet with my team. He still works with shrapnel in his back. He held my hand as we walked toward the prints I had set up in the coffee shop, and we got closer and closer his hand got tighter and tighter around mine, he was in tears when he realized these prints were to honor him.”

“Since then I have donated several framed pieces  to non-profit organizations that are raising money for their cause, specifically paying tribute to military families,” she said.

Tana’s talent draws further than this American Honor phenomenon. She is also the sole designer for one of her companies, Western Denim and Dirt. These fabric collections typify the western cowboy lifestyle that is so indigenous to the Texas culture.

Her nickname is the “Crayon Lady”.  As a matter of fact, on the day we spoke she had just returned from the Blue Bonnet Shop Hop where 8 shops got together and had her create an exclusive fabric design specifically for use with Tana’s fabric crayon technique of coloring on fabric.  One block was in each of the stores. Shop Hop participants had to visit each store to collect them all.

She was actually still a little hoarse from talking 10 hours straight doing her demos.  “Coloring with crayons on fabric is becoming a big thing here in southwest Texas,” she says. And it directly relates to her fierce pursuit of sharing this art form.

And as for the glorious part of Tana’s reputation? That is far less clear. She is a very humble person, and while the fame that has come with having several successful fabric collections with The Blank Quilting Corporation, she is not one to be filled with pride…except of course when it comes to being from Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the heart of the American Honor Quilt Challenge

Thank you so much to all who have entered into the American Honor Quilt Challenge. Each and every quilt that has been entered is so treasured because there is a heartfelt message that is woven into each stitch made.

These projects are so much more than fabric, beautiful designs and fabulous quilting they are symbols of heroes and remembrances of men and women of valor and honor.

Words can’t explain the sacrifice that our men and women and their families make to serve our country, and we recognize that this is a small tribute, and a very small token.

So we celebrate all the contestants and the quilt shops who are our partners in this challenge. We can not wait to give the donation to American’s Mighty Warriors in the name of the winners (both contestant and the quilt shop).

And for ALL quilt shops that have chosen to take part of the American Honor line we thank you too! We want you to know that because of the fantastic response to this collection, we are making this collection a BASIC line in the Blank Quilting fabric lineup and available for ordering all the time.

No matter who wins, we celebrate the heart of this quilt challenge, that we truly honor our American heroes.

They are small words, but sent from a big heart from all of us at The Blank Quilting Corp.:  Thank you.

American Honor Countdown!

Happy Monday! If you are a contestant in the American Honor Quilt Challenge, you are most likely counting down the hours and days until all entrants’ projects need to be posted (March 31) and the voting begins (April 1)!

If you are not yet in to the final throws of furiously quilting up and binding your American Honor project, there is STILL time left (5 days to be exact)! I know that most quilts are not made in 48-72 hours, but you can take that as a personal challenge for your chance at the fabulous prizes!

When you win, your favorite shop wins too. And, if you own a shop and you win, then you win double! The top 5 prizes are:

5th place: 4 — 20 pc. FQ bundles of Fusion Illusion. The contestant’s quilt shop of choice also wins 4 — 20 pc. FQ bundles of Fusion Illusion.

4th place: The same as 5th place PLUS 4 — 12 pc. FQ bundles of Primitive Basics. The contestant’s quilt shop of choice also wins the same prize.

3rd place: The same as 4th place PLUS 4 — 40 pc Sumatra Batiks Strip Packs. The contestant’s quilt shop of choice also wins the same prize.

2nd place: The same as 3rd place PLUS 4 — 20 pc. bundles of Starlet and a $200 donation made in their name to America’s Mighty Warriors. The contestant’s quilt shop of choice will also win the same prizes and have a $200 donation made in their name to America’s Mighty Warriors.

1st place: The same as 2nd place PLUS 4 — 28 pc. FQ Bundles of Splash and a $400 donation made in the winner’s name to America’s Mighty Warriors. The first place winner will also receive a $100 cash prize. The contestant’s quilt shop of choice will also win the same prizes,  a $400 donation made in their name to America’s Mighty Warriors and they will also receive a $100 credit towards any future purchase from The Blank Quilting Corp. (not to be used for existing balances).

For whatever reason, everyone seems to be waiting until the last minute to load their projects here. So quite frankly, you have about a 1 in 20 chance of winning (as of today), not counting all the quilters that are rushing to hit the March 31 deadline.  Those sound like pretty good odds to me.  Don’t you think?

That means you should really start your American Honor project right NOW, call in sick for two days and do nothing but make the most fabulous American Honor quilt we have ever seen. It is totally worth it!

Now, for all who are waiting on the side-lines… wondering what the beautiful American Honor quilts look like and are ready to VOTE…the wait is almost over.  April 1 the American Honor page on the Blank Quilting site will open up for your votes.

So set this link for Saturday, April 1,  to take a look at all the projects and vote for your favorite.

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: The Yenta Is Baaaaack!

Happy Monday Yentees,

The is back with another installment of news a.k.a. gossip.  Like I mentioned last time, I don’t really consider it to be gossip since it really is all fact in spite of what some want to believe.  The only thing is that it might be gossip to you since you haven’t heard it until now.  Before I get in to the heart of the for this week, I wanted to clarify one thing from the first installment.  Regarding the contraction that I predicted in the fabric industry, you should know that the contraction will affect everyone including my companies too. Unfortunately, no one is immune.  So in spite of what some might have thought I said, the contraction is hitting everyone, but it just hits everyone differently….some worse than others.

Anyway, last week I discussed the unfortunate demise of a couple companies/divisions to the benefit of the rest of the industry, but this week I am discussing the combination (mergers & acquisitions) of others. I have two to discuss:

  1. This is old news by now, but news nonetheless.  On or around the time of the 2016 October Quilt Market, Wyndham bought Anthology Fabrics.
  2. Just this past week, it was announced that the distributor, Troy Corporation, out of Chicago, Illinois was purchased by a company that I had never heard of before, Midwest Embroidery Supplies out of Farmington, Missouri.  I look forward to meeting the new owners and working closely with them as we have had a longstanding and fantastic relationship with the Troy’s.

Congratulations to all companies involved with these deals.  Good luck!

My brief comments on the M&A are this.  The Wyndham deal is a good one for our industry as it combines two entities that can now benefit from the synergies of being one combined entity.  More  deals like this would be welcomed in our industry as far as I am concerned.  It would also help to reduce the number of suppliers as there is just an overabundance.  On the other hand, the Troy/Midwest deal doesn’t really have any major benefit to the future of our industry because it really just keeps Troy in the game under a new owner who isn’t a big player in fabric at all.  That being said, it is probably a good deal for Troy, but it doesn’t help the other fabric distributors or convertors who are dealing with the contraction.

Mary Jo Cloninger of Mary Jo’s Cloth Shop.

I unfortunately have some very sad news to report.  This past Friday I got an email informing me that Mary Jo Cloninger of Mary Jo’s Cloth Store in Gastonia, North Carolina passed away at 85 years old.  Since I go down to the Carolina’s most frequently on business, I often had the opportunity to work with Mary Jo on various occasions.  The one thing I would never forget about Mary Jo was how she would always insist on 20-25 yard bolts.  She would always say anything less than that is a remnant.  She was always shocked to hear that the chain stores were taking 8 yard bolts. Anyway, the fabric industry is losing a true gem.  Rest in peace Mary Jo, you will be missed.  My thoughts and prayers go out to your family.

On a lighter note, as a follow up to my previous blog about Monopoly changing their game pieces, it’s official that the thimble, shoe, wheelbarrow and iron are gone.  In is the rubber duck, penguin and Tyrannosaurus rex…really?  They will join the Scottie dog, top hat, cat, race car and battleship.  Next year, we fabric people should vote for the sewing machine.  The is now out of ammo for the time being.

Until Next Week,

This is Scott Fortunoff the fabric signing off.

PEACE!

 

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Time To Post Your American Honor Contest Entry

Happy Monday Everyone,

American Honor Quilt Challenge

Last year The Blank Quilting Corp. came out with a line called American Honor by Tana Mueller of Western Denim & Dirt. The American Honor line evoked a lot of emotions pertaining to American Soldiers who lost their lives protecting this great country. With those emotions came the idea of creating a contest using the American Honor fabric line.  Here is a link to the American Honor line in case you haven’t seen it.  It is really something else in that it really hits home.

So, what I am here to tell you today, and for the whole month of March, is that the time has finally come for all entrants to start posting their projects on the contest landing page.   As of the first week of March, we have not yet received one submission… WAAHHH!  I am sure that everyone is putting the finishing touches on their masterpieces as they want to put their best foot forward to try and get their hands on one of the great prizes that are being offered.  One special feature of this contest is that not only do top 10 contestants win, but also the top 10 contestants’ shops of choice win too.  Go to this link and skip down to the prizes section to see what the winners will get.  You could also view all the rules and other info about the contest.

That is my message for this week.  Keep in mind also that it is only March 6, so there is definitely still time to get out there and buy some American Honor fabric to whip up a quick contest submission before April 1. Speaking of April 1, 2017, that is when the voting will begin.  So, even if you did not submit a project, you will still have the opportunity to vote on your favorite project.  Please make sure to exercise your right to vote.

Wishing everyone the best of luck!  May the best projects win! Thank you for participating and supporting this effort.  We greatly appreciate your involvement.  We hope you had fun.

Until Next Week,

This is American Honor Scott

The Blank Blog Bonanza (BBB): Monthly Specials For March & April 2017

Dear Valued Customer,

Below are the details for the newest BBBs.  These BBBs apply to orders that are taken in March & April of 2017 only, but the orders DO NOT have to ship in March or April (they can ship anytime).  Please note that all prior BBBs are now done and these are the only ones that are in effect. Here goes:

#1.  PRECUT SPECIAL (REPEAT FROM THE JAN./FEB. BBB):  If you buy 2 of any of the same precuts (excluding American Honor & Natural Treasures) at full price i.e. 2 orders of Splash 5x5s, you will get the third unit of the same item for free.  In other words, buy 2 and get one free. Please note that the order still needs to meet the 5 unit minimum order and the free unit does not count towards the minimum.

#2.   44″ QUILTING COTTONS:

FULL COLLECTION SPECIAL:  If you buy any full collection in 15 yard cuts, you will get free freight on that order as well as anything else that ships with it.  If you buy a full collection in 12 yard cuts, your freight will be 10 cents per yard and anything else you order will also ship for the same price per yard.

SUMATRA BATIK 2 SPECIAL:  If you buy 8-30 bolts of the Sumatra 2 Batiks, you will get 20 cents off per yard.  If you buy 31-50 bolts of the Sumatra 2 Batiks, you will get 40 cents off per yard.  If you buy more than 50 bolts, you will get 50 cents off per yard.

METALLIC COTTONS (44″ & 108″):  If you buy any 6 metallic bolts from the same line listed below, you will get the 7th bolt from the same line for free.  No mix and match please.

#3.  108″ FABRICS (REPEAT FROM THE JAN./FEB. BBB): :  For every 5 bolts of full priced 108″ fabrics that you purchase, you will get 10 cents off per yard. That discount increases with every 5 bolts ordered.  In other words, if you buy 10 bolts you get 20 cents off per yard, 15 bolts gets you 30 cents off per yard, 20 bolts gets you 40 cents off per yard, 25 bolts gets you 50 cents off per yard, 30 bolts gets you 60 cents of per yard and so on. The maximum is 50 bolts for $1.00 off per yard.  This special cannot be mixed with the metallic 108″ special immediately above.

We hope that you continue to take advantage of the BBBs.

Contact your Blank sales rep to place an order.
Contact customer service at 800-294-9495 x245 (Renee)
To Monthly Specials!
Your Blank Quilting Sales Team

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Love Thy Neighbor….Or Not?

As I ponder the idea of continuing to blog for years to come about the fabric industry, it seems that I am going to have to venture away from the quilting related blog path every so often.  It’s just that I need to mix things up a little for your sanity and mine. I don’t want my blah blah blogs to become too ba—ba—boring.  With all that being said, this week I am going to tell you a personal story that some might consider funny and others might consider to be sad.  In any case, there are lessons to be learned.

2 weeks ago I was at the Vacuum & Sewing Show in Vegas (more about that in another blog).  Monday morning I got a frustrated call from my wife.  Go figure, as always, whenever I am not home, that is when all the drama happens.  She called to tell me that at 745 am someone took our garbage bags from the curb and spread our garbage allover our driveway.

My wife posted this on local social media sites, but no one knew who it was.

My wife looked at our security cameras (see photo above) and unfortunately could not determine who it was.  She called the police and filed a report.  Of course, she and the kids were a little worried because who does such a thing in a so-called civilized society?  The police thought it was someone with a couple screws loose.  I thought it was just someone that didn’t like how our garbage smelled.  My wife wondered out loud if it might be our neighbor.  Turns out, we unfortunately didn’t start off on the right foot with them when they moved in to the neighborhood not too long ago.  Long story short, there was a property line issue and I had to take down and replace 25 bushes and put up a new fence.  Their moving in was definitely not an inexpensive venture for me and that didn’t even include the legal bills and unnecessary drama.

This is an action shot.

Fast forward 2 days when I returned home from Vegas.  I was driving home and saw my neighbor putting out his garbage. In spite of our differences, I thought I would ask if he knew anything about the garbage incident for the sake of everyone in the neighborhood. Immediately, he said that HE DID IT!  I was totally stunned and asked,”Why would you do something like that, psycho?” (Ok, I didn’t actually say the ‘psycho’ part).

He told me that over the last couple of weeks that he found my garbage allover his driveway.  So I said, “And you think that I did this?”  I went on to say, “Buddy, I am a nice 44 year old gentleman, you think I am getting up in the morning to get myself dirty and scatter my garbage on your driveway?”  “Are you insane?”  In any case, he said that this was like the third time it happened. That combined with a bad night of sleep with a sick child caused him to loose his cool.  I asked him, “Why didn’t you just come over and ask?”  He just presumed that it was me trying to mess with him because of the long past property line issue.  As if I don’t have better things to do with my life.

There was an easy explanation after all.  Our garbage collectors walk through the neighborhood emptying all the garbage cans and then the truck drives around and then they throw the trash in the back.  It turns out that my garbage collector was moving my garbage to my neighbor’s driveway and I guess it spilled out a couple times.  In other words, it was a big misunderstanding that went haywire.  In the end, I think there are a couple of lessons to be learned.  Never assume because that makes an ass out of u and me (ASSUME).  Also, it shows how important it is to communicate with people.

Enough of the story, but I did want to tie this in to our industry and my business experiences.  We often run in to situations where our customers assume certain things that are not true or not totally true.  Rather than calling us to discuss, they just take a position like we don’t want to do business with you ever again or any of your other companies and cancel all my orders. This really isn’t a great way for anyone to do business and a lot of times there is an easy solution. We value all of our customers very much and as I always say, our business and industry is not perfect.  We do the best we can all the time.

All the being said, please consider how you would feel if every time you made a little mistake or had a misunderstanding with a customer that they told you that they would not do business with you ever again.  It is a little extreme if you ask me. I would venture to say that the error would have to be egregious for me not to want to do business anymore. Please keep that in mind going forward and remember that a lot of lives are affected when you make grandiose threats about not doing business with our companies any more.  To be honest, it hurts when this happens and unfortunately it happens all too often.  We didn’t make it for 87 years in the business by treating customers poorly.

By the way, I thought it would have been nice for the neighbor to show up at my house the next day to apologize with some wine or a cake or even just an apology.  That is what I would have done, but then again I wouldn’t have tossed the trash allover.  Live and learn my friends and love thy neighbor or not as you choose.

What do you think about that?

Rational Neighbor Scott

 

 

Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Our Industry Is Under Siege…By Hasbro Toys

What’s up folks?  Happy Monday and Happy President’s Day!  As if things in the quilting and sewing industry have not been challenging enough lately, we now have a new enemy knocking down our door and picking on our favorite American past time…sewing.  It’s like we are under siege from all directions…all the time.  Next thing you know it, our dear president will start picking on us too.  In any case, the newest twist, in case you haven’t heard, the people of Hasbro are moving towards getting rid of the thimble. Ahhh!!  This is a real kick in the thimble if you know what I mean.

As if it wasn’t bad enough already that the people of Hasbro got rid of the iron in 2013 in exchange for no other than a……..cat?!?!  Someone really has it out for our industry and we need to defend ourselves before we are no longer represented.  I mean, what about the freaking wheelbarrow? Does anyone even use wheelbarrows anymore?  I haven’t seen one lately in New York City. Or what about that weird looking shoe?  This looks like a shoe from 1935 when Monopoly was invented.  It sure doesn’t look like any shoe that I have ever seen or worn…thank god.  I vote for the shoe and the wheelbarrow to go. I also vote for the iron to come back and I think a quilt should be added.  How about them apples? (Good Will Hunting reference.)

As you probably know, I am all for change, but I am not for this change. As far as I am concerned, if it isn’t broken it doesn’t need to be fixed and this isn’t a broken…it is a classic. What could possibly replace our dear thimble?  A poop emoji?  An iphone?  An electric car?  These things will come and go, but the thimble….never.

Unfortunately, I think it is too late to save our beloved thimble, but at the least, we should let the people of Hasbro know that we are up in arms about this.  I am sure that you can figure out how to protest this on your own.  If in doubt, google it.  Good luck!  Let me know what you do.

Until Next Week,

This is Sad Scott