Meet the Sponsors/Giveaway: Fat Quarter Shop

fat quarter shop logoWell it’s just turning out to be an Austin-themed day. I live ridiculously close to the Fat Quarter Shop‘s world HQ and have always been an fan of their well-designed online shop, though I’ve never met owner Kimberly Jolly face-to-face. And I probably won’t get to for a while, either, since she just gave birth to twin boys a couple weeks ago — congratulations Jolly family!

When I think of the Fat Quarter Shop I immediately think of Moda. They consistently have just about every new collection and pre-cut pack Moda produces, but it doesn’t stop there — they carry contemporary, traditional, and reproduction yardage and pre-cut packs from all the major fabric manufacturers, as well as a huge range of patterns for quilts and other projects, quilt kits, magazines, and notions. Their fat quarter clubs and block of the month programs are quite tempting, too.

From keeping up with the Fat Quarter shop through the Jolly Jabber blog, their twice-weekly newsletter, and corresponding with Kimberly, Jocelyn Lai and Sarah Price (the FQS marketing department), it’s clear the Fat Quarter Shop staff is a close-knit, hard-working bunch who love what they do. Below, Kimberly (pre-twin-arrival) answered my questions about the business she and her husband built.

Jolly Family

Kimberly and Kevin Jolly with their daughter Emma and newborn sons William and Peyton

Where do you live? What is the textile/crafty scene like there?
I have lived in Austin my entire life, which is known for being a smorgasbord of culture.

How and when did you start selling fabric?
I started Fat Quarter Shop in May of 2003. I had really taken to quilting after a few classes and developed a love of fabric. At the same time, I had another full-time job that was winding down, and being me, I need to keep busy all the time. So I decided to start this fabric business to keep me busy. Seemed like a pretty good marriage of skills and passion!

What surprised you most about the business?
I think it would be the passion that people have for fabric. I love fabric of course, but getting to know some of my customers (and their stashes) over the years has opened my eyes to what true unadulterated fabric addiction is. Not just that (and not to be mushy), but I’ve formed such good, dear friendships with some of these people, sprung from love of fabric.

Is this your full time job? If not, what do you moonlight as?
Fat Quarter Shop started out as my moonlighting gig, but now it is my fulltime job, and I’m so glad it is. Fat Quarter Shop is 24/7, it never closes, and that works with my personality. We constantly have new collections coming in, new clubs starting up. There are bad days, but never boring.

How would you characterize your shop?
Fun, fast-paced, and original. We try to always have the newest fabrics, patterns and kits. We love coming up with exclusive kits, block-of-the-months and products, like Jolly Packs® that you can’t find anywhere else. Honestly, some of our best programs have gone from an idea to reality in a week.

What are your hot sellers right now?
New Moda lines, like Sandy Gervais’ Gobble Gobble, plus all the Moda precut items (fat quarter bundles, jelly rolls, layer cakes, etc.) always make our Top Seller list. Oh, and we just got a whole bunch of hot ones in! The newest Michael Miller lines are doing great too (no surprise there), like Laura Gunn’s Lantern Bloom, Patty Young’s Mezzanine, and Paula Prass’ Summer Soirée. On the non-fabric side, though they aren’t new, Tanya Whelan’s Grand Revival patterns are really hot this summer, especially her Practical Bag pattern.

Are you online only, or do you have a brick & mortar shop? If you don’t have one, are you planning to open one?
No, we are an online shop only. An online storefront is more than enough to keep us busy, and we wouldn’t be able to operate the same way with a brick & mortar shop.

Do you run the shop alone or do you have help?
I definitely have very good help. My husband is my partner, and a few expert ladies help me with customers and other shop functions, like trendspotting and buying patterns & fabrics. Couldn’t do it without them! [ed. note: get to know the Fat Quarter Shop staff here.]

How do you deal with the challenges of the current economy, and increasing competition on the online fabric retail market?
We continue to do what we do, which is to be creative and innovative through the changes. In the short term we have had to put some great ideas on the back burner, and like everyone else we’ve scaled down a little bit of everything. But the challenges also present new opportunities to explore, so we certainly aren’t sitting around twiddling our thumbs.

It’s great so many people are pursuing the same dream. We know same fabrics are available at tons of different places. But every shop has its own distinct identity, geared toward different tastes and needs. We’ve established ourselves as a dependable, fun shop that really cares about the details, and that’s what sets us apart. We get emails every day about the way we ship, our packaging, our friendly service -– and we aren’t going to change what we do. Of course, it does motivate us to keep up with the times, like using Twitter to keep in touch with our techno-savvy customers.

What are the (other!) biggest challenges – and biggest rewards – of being a fabric merchant?

It’s difficult to keep up with everything in the business. Like building any business, there are a lot of headaches and growing pains while learning what works for us, and having an online store is an around-the-clock job with no vacation or holiday time. That’s tough, especially now that our family is expanding. On the flip side, I love getting to see all the new fabrics and patterns first and coming up with new kits and projects. It’s what got me into the business.

What’s your personal stash like?
There’s not too much time anymore to make anything outside of store samples, so surprisingly my stash is made up of older fabrics from before Fat Quarter Shop. I stick to what I really like; there are a lot of 3 Sisters and Robyn Pandolph fabrics in my stash. I am in love with elegant, more traditional florals. And of course lots of cute children’s fabrics!

Who are your favorite designers, from the past and/or from the present?

3 Sisters for sure. They’ll always be my favorite.

Thank you so much, Kimberly!

The Fat Quarter Shop is offering one lucky True Up reader a $75 gift certificate. Just comment on this post and we’ll pick a winner next Wednesday, August 26, around 9am central U.S. time. Good luck!

457 Comments

  1. 2hippos says:

    FQ shop sounds like a great place to work!

  2. jenny says:

    what a great giveaway! sign me up!

  3. ~Michelle~ says:

    I LOVE FQS! I can devote significant time to browsing their website. Their tweets just help me keep my fabric browsing addiction intact. ;)

  4. Tracy says:

    Fat Quarter Shop also has great customer service! Always appreciated!

  5. AmandaL says:

    I have always had wonderful experiences with FQS. WHen I was working on a quilt that used different grays, they even helped me determine whether the colors I were seeing on my screen were matches with what i had in hand. Can’t say enough good things.

  6. Betsy says:

    Sounds good to me! Love fat quarters, love to shop for them…

  7. Vicki says:

    FQS is a great store! I’d love to win.

  8. Mary P says:

    I love FatQuarterShop! They have so many fabulous fabrics.

  9. stephanie says:

    What a great interview – I didn’t realize FQS was such a small company! I placed my first online fabric order with them, and was so pleasantly surprised by their lovely packaging.

  10. chris says:

    congrats to the jollys on their twins. and i must say, i’ve just discovered the FQS and will need to make a purchase sooN!

  11. Rachel says:

    Wow! Congratulations. I love hearing about others experiences running/owning fabric stores as it’s my dream job! Thanks.

  12. nanann says:

    I’ve always wished they had a storefront so I could go and roam their aisles. Great giveaway!

  13. Jody Schoger says:

    So glad to hear more about the FQ shop and hear Kimberly’s story. They have the best service — personal, professional, and FAST, and their web page design is easy to navigate. And oh yes…..all that fabric!! Love that, too:)!

  14. Whistlepea says:

    Wow! That’s so generous! I would die if I won.

  15. Kate says:

    What a great interview and fantastic to learn about all the behind the scenes work! Thanks for the chance to win the giveaway!

  16. em says:

    What an inspiring interview, I’ll think of it every time I search FQS for what I’m looking for! Great giveaway!

  17. carissa says:

    SHUT UP! $75!!!! Heaven. pure and simple. How I love @fatquaratershop!!

    Thanks!

    I agree didn’t realize they were so small!

  18. Laura W. says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop website! It’s so user friendly and very visually pleasing. Jolly packs are also a favourite! Congrats to the Jollys on their new arrivals!

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway, I’d love to win :)

  19. Nancey says:

    Thanks for posting this. I always pictured them as a team of girls, surprised to see it’s a young family. They’re great.

  20. Rachel says:

    I spend so much time at FQS drooling over everything! Lovely site!

  21. Diana says:

    It’s always interesting to read about what’s going on behind the scenes, especially for Fat Quarter Shop which is a great place to shop on-line. I would love to win that gift certificate!

  22. DianeY says:

    Thanks for the great interview-I had always thought they were a brick & mortar shop-wow! Thay do great!

  23. Becky says:

    Wouldn’t it be like dying and going to heaven to work at FQ? Sweet!

  24. Cricket says:

    What a lovely family! I only hope that someday I can do something I love 24/7. I can only imagine how much work it must be, though.

  25. FQS carries the most drool-worthy fabrics and their site is so easy to navigate! Thanks for sharing the story behind the greatness.

  26. Shannon says:

    I love the fat quarter shop! I look forward to getting their email newsletters and seeing the new fabrics.

  27. Lindsay says:

    I love to spend money at FQ shop! My fingers are itching…must go browsing!

  28. Jes says:

    great interview! thanks for entering me!

  29. Lisa D. says:

    It was fun to read your article and learn more about Kimberly and her amazing team at FQS. I would sure love to win that gift certificate!

  30. Jenny says:

    Please put my name in the mix, I could really use the gift certificate!!
    Thanks
    krousegirl2 at aol dto com

  31. rachel says:

    wow.
    that’s quite an interview.
    thanks for sharing.
    :)

  32. Stephanie says:

    I love fat quarter shop. They ship fast and have a terrific selection…especailly of charm packs.

  33. May says:

    Thanks for the interview. I love FQS and it’s great to read a behind the scenes.

  34. monica says:

    Thanks for the interview. I’ve had great service whenever I’ve ordered from FQS so I’m glad to read all about them.

  35. Emily says:

    I love the fat quarter shop! It’s great to meet the people behind it. Thanks for the giveaway!

  36. Vickie E says:

    I love the Fatquarter shop. I have been a customer for atleast 4-5 years! Thanks for the interview..

  37. Leigh says:

    OH, PLEASE pick me! I love the FQ shop! One of my fav online stores!

  38. Nova says:

    Must remember to peruse the quilt patterns later.

  39. Amber says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop too – they always have such a great selection of patterns along with tons of fabric!

  40. Carmen says:

    I’ve spent farrr too long perusing the Fat Quarter Shop website. This is terrific!

  41. I LOVE shopping at FQS! Thanks for the fun interview!!

  42. Sheri K. says:

    I’d love to win…I love Fat Quarter Shop!!!

  43. Barbara says:

    Great Interview! I love reading their blog to keep up on all the newest fabric.

  44. Angela says:

    This is such a wonderful site! I would LOVE to win this giveaway! Thanks for the chance. :)

  45. Thanks for the interview – it is always interesting to hear how people started out. I wonder how they manage to store all that lovely fabric.

  46. Brooke says:

    Fat Quarter Shop has always been one of my favorites…..

  47. Collette says:

    Interesting interview. I like hearing how people got to the place they’re at (hope that makes sense even if it’s said quite inelegantly). I actually just ordered from the Fat Quarter shop. Twice in the last month! Precuts are kind of addictive…

  48. Karen says:

    I love their web site!!!

  49. marielle says:

    what a fun shop!

  50. Andrea says:

    I love the FQS! It’s my first stop to check out new and upcoming collections. I really like hearing how they got started, and how they operate. Great little interview!