We’re finally back with our semi-regular Meet the Sponsors posts. Today I’d love to introduce you to Tisha Galloway of So Fun Fabrics. So Fun Fabrics is an Etsy shop with a small but quality selection of modern designer fabrics and boutique patterns. She also offers several irresistible fabric bundles. What caught my eye about So Fun Fabrics was that Tisha always includes at least one close-up detail shot of the fabric’s design elements. I don’t know about you, but it’s details like that that often make me pull the trigger on buying a fabric.
To go along with her interview, we’re having a giveaway (but of course)! See the bottom of this post for details. Let’s all give a warm welcome to Miss Tisha …
Where do you live? What is the textile/crafty scene like there?
We’re located in sunny San Diego where the population is very eclectic and the vibe is “chill.” There is a fantastic art scene, but not much in the way of textiles and crafts. There are a few fabric and quilt shops here and there, and you can find handmade clothing vendors at any one of the number of farmers markets, but overall, I wouldn’t consider San Diego to have too much of a craft scene.
How and when did you start selling fabric?
I got the fabric bug after my husband surprised me with a “just because” gift. I had seen an apron in an Etsy shop and told him how much I loved the fabric. The print was fun and a little funky, and they were “my” colors – blue and green! When I had the apron in hand, the fabric was even better, so I did some searching and found out it was Amy Butler’s Optic Blossom in Ice. I wanted more of the fabric even though I had no plans for it. I looked in the few local fabric stores we have and couldn’t find it, so I did an Etsy search where I found all kinds of other great fabrics that I fell in love with! I jumped on eBay and began buying up a yard here and a yard there – pretty soon I had more fabric than I knew what to do with. From there, it somehow evolved into setting up a fabric shop. I did a lot of research, signed up with Etsy, did more research and finally, a few months later, I started listing fabrics!
What surprised you most about the business?
What surprised me most was how difficult it can be to sell on Etsy. The Supplies section is very saturated and it can be tough just to be searchable! Another element that surprised me was how friendly most buyers are! I think Etsy provides a community feel that you might not necessarily get with other online retail formats.
Is this your full time job? If not, what do you moonlight as?
Selling fabric is my full time job, although I do help my husband with his real estate and property management company. (Fabric is much more fun!)
How would you characterize your shop?
Hmm … I guess I would have to say young and fresh. The majority of my customers are beginning sewers, young sewers, and those with little ones to sew for!
What are your hot sellers right now?
From the beginning, my best seller has been Heather Bailey’s Pop Garden – it sells consistently. This past summer I couldn’t keep StudioE’s Flourish on the shelf! Most recently, Patty Young’s Mezzanine and Joel Dewberry’s Deer Valley have been selling very well.
Are you online only, or do you have a brick & mortar shop? If you don’t have one, are you planning to open one?
We are an online only store, with no current plans of opening a brick & mortar shop. We’re still growing and still building inventory. But we’re always evaluating the shop to see if where it’s at is a good fit, so you never know what direction it could go in!
Do you run the shop alone or do you have help?
Well, you’ve probably noticed I’ve said “we” a lot. I consider my husband a partner, although he has his own business. We make a lot of the business decisions together and he does all the graphics for the site and blog. He’s my sounding board and he keeps me grounded when my ideas start to get too big. Plus he’s handy to have around to lug in those giant boxes of fabrics that the UPS guy likes to block the front door with. As for the day-to-day operations, it’s just me. The ordering, the cutting, the packaging, the customer service … all me!
How do you deal with the challenges of the current economy, and increasing competition on the online fabric retail market?
I started my business when the economy was already down, so I don’t have sales in good economic times to compare to. I’ve always been a bargain shopper, so I try to price my items at an affordable level. I know many customers don’t have access to brick and mortar shops and have to purchase fabric on the internet, which means they have to pay shipping too. So I try to keep that in mind as well when pricing items. When it comes to ordering new fabric, I really do my homework. I pay attention to what consumers are saying about new fabric lines and patterns. I love reading blog comments and tweets because it reminds me that I need to order what they want, not want I want!
As far as competition goes, I admit that I’m a competitive person and it’s something that I really had to work on when I first started selling. I believe that competition drives the marketplace and it’s just part of owning a business, but it’s still something I struggled with. My husband gave me some good advice early on though. He said, “You can’t control what the other stores carry or which stores customers buy from. You can only control what you offer and how you run your business, so run it as best as you can.” I think of that every time I start to feel overwhelmed or have a slow sales week … and it always helps!
What are the (other!) biggest challenges — and biggest rewards — of being a fabric merchant?
I think one of the biggest challenges for me is budgeting. I’m good with finances, but it’s just so hard not to order every single new line that comes out! I would love to offer the complete collection of every line, but with an increase in designers and collection size, it’s near impossible!
I would say the biggest reward is watching the sales count grow because it means that my hard work is paying off and that I’m making good decisions about what to order. There’s definitely a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes along with the job.
What’s your personal stash like?
My personal stash is mostly made up of end-of-bolt remnants, many of which I don’t have specific plans for … I just like the fabric and want it for “some day.” I still have a lot of the now out-of-print fabrics I bought off eBay a couple summers ago and I actually have ideas for some of them, but until I get better at sewing, they’re tucked away safely in cute little boxes You’ll find a lot of blues and a lot of Heather Bailey, Amy Butler, and Patricia Bravo in those boxes!
Who are your favorite designers, from the past and/or from the present?
Obviously, Amy Butler ranks up there … it was her fabric that got me started! As someone who researches and looks at fabrics and designers every day, it’s hard to narrow down the list. I love Patricia Bravo’s work … she has such a passion for what she does and it shows in her fabrics. Joel Dewberry is another favorite because he consistently produces good, solid collections. Patty Young’s fabrics reflect her energy and enthusiasm and that’s so fun to me. And of course, Heather Bailey, the designer who made me like florals! I love her use of color and how she’s able to make geometrics and florals coordinate so well. And I think Sandi Henderson may be added to the favorites list soon – I’m so looking forward to getting Meadowsweet!
Thank you so much, Tisha!
Tisha is offering a $30 store credit to spend any way you like. To enter, just follow So Fun Fabrics on Twitter, subscribe to or bookmark her blog, or become a fan on Facebook. Just be sure to come back to this post to leave a comment letting us know which one you did (or that you did all three?). Comments will close and a winner will be chosen next Wednesday, November 25, around 2pm Central U.S. time. Good luck!