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. gwensmom says:

    FQS has a great website- I love to see what is “coming soon”. Thanks for a great interview.

  2. upstatelisa says:

    Fat Quarter Shop is great!

  3. stacy says:

    OOOh, what a fantastic giveaway – count me in!

  4. Tiffany says:

    Fantastic interview with FQS! I had no idea Kimberly started it all on her own like that. What a great success story. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Austin themed days are fine with me!

  6. Amy says:

    What a great site, thanks for the interview. I love hearing how people start and keep their businesses running. It makes it seem so much more doable for the rest of us.

  7. Sherri says:

    What a great interview…fun to learn more about the folks behind Fat Quarter Shop…which happens to be my favorite place to get new fabrics…seems that they always have everything first…and their packaging/shipping service is wonderful!

  8. Christina says:

    Fat Quarter shop: Where I waste much of my time clicking away. :P

  9. Francoise Murphy says:

    How neat to learn how people behind these shops get started. I’m a fabric addict and would love to win the giveaway!!!

  10. Susan says:

    I found the Fat Quarter shop through your ads and found my Moda Wonderland fabric there. I wondered about a bricks and mortar shop too – you’ve answered all my questions!

  11. Cerece says:

    I had no idea I live in the same town as FQS!! How exciting.

  12. Pam M. says:

    I love the Fat Quarter shop. It has such beautiful photos of their fabric.

  13. Korie says:

    Fat Quarter Shop is the go-to place for quilters. They have the best selection of precuts and kits around. Plus the aesthetics of the site are great – a must for this picky person!

    Thanks & good luck!

  14. Helena says:

    I love the FQS. I always go there first when I’m looking for fat quarters.

  15. Sequana says:

    I think Lantern Blooms is one of the best fabric collections EVER! I can’t wait to see her Poppies next.

  16. camelama says:

    Wooo! Like I need another source to feed my fabric insanity. :) :) :) But I love it!

  17. Alissa says:

    Congrats to the Jolly family on their new babies!

  18. carrie says:

    Go, FQS! You’re an inspiration to all us aspiring fabric-shop owners–way to create success and happiness for yourself and your family on your own terms!

  19. Rebecca says:

    I love looking at your site! So many great fabrics! What a busy mommy you must be!!!!

  20. Alissa says:

    Wow! Amazingly generous give away!! Thanks. Love the Fat Quarter Shop.

  21. Tam says:

    I have constantly been impressed by FQS selection. Glad to hear that it is also a fabulous place to work!

  22. sarah says:

    I love the FQ shop! Great giveaway!

  23. Tricia says:

    I love Jolly Jabber! (And, yes, Moda.)

  24. Pookie says:

    I click on the FQS site several times a day just so I can admire beautiful fabrics while at work. I love their site and have had only fabulous experiences ordering from them!

  25. Liz says:

    Great interview–I really appreciate learning more about the business and the people behind them!

  26. Lauren says:

    Enjoyed the interview! Can’t wait to see who wins the giveaway.

  27. Lauren says:

    I can vouch for the FQS. Their customer service is excellent, as is their website and choice of fabrics.

  28. Ady says:

    I got so busy looking at the things I would buy with a gift certificate that I almost forgot to comment!

  29. I love Fat Quarter Shop! Kim always ships so promptly and sends things packaged so beautifully, and they gained a customer for life when they sent me the most adorable Michael Miller Spa Group FQ bundle for my “grab bag”. It’s now a super-cute baby quilt!

  30. Jeannine says:

    FQS is on my “check new stuff everyday” list. I love the site.

    What a beautiful family.

  31. Priscilla says:

    It’s a great site. I love fat quarters!

  32. Jenna says:

    Mmm… yummy giveaway and nice interview! I’ve drooled over many an item at the Fat Quarter Shop! Even enjoy filling up my basket and “pretend shopping” when money is tight! Keep up the great work and enjoy those babes!

  33. Donna says:

    What a lovely family– twins and proud big sister. The Fat Quarter Shop is one of my favorite places to browse, they have a great selection of Lecien fabrics.

  34. sequinK says:

    Sweet! Thanks for the great interview.

  35. carol broughton says:

    Great interview! I love shopping at the Fat Quarter Shop and really enjoy the Jolly Jabber.

  36. Kris says:

    I really like this interview series… it’s fun to meet the people behind the stores that I use. I just had great luck with Christmas fabrics at Fat Quarter Shop!

  37. I’ve been a FQS customer and also love their blog and Twitter updates!

  38. Paige Nichols says:

    i am new to sewing and quilting but find myself over and over at these sites… the beautiful fabrics inspire me to make things i never thought was an option. thanks for that!!

  39. Megan says:

    What a great giveaway!

  40. elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the great interview! Fat Quarter Shop has been my go-to for finding new Moda fabric and tons of other things for a couple of years now. I

  41. Terriaw says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop! I belong to their Free Spirit fat quarter bundle of the month club, and I love it. Thanks for sharing this great interview!

  42. Maria says:

    I love this shop! I belong to a fat quarter bundle of the month club and also the clothesline club. Great stuff! I can’t keep up with the monthly stuff but overall I think it’s a great deal for what you pay for!!

  43. Rachel says:

    Thanks for the great interview! Kimberly said she likes to keep busy all the time-I’m guessing the new twins will see to that! congrats! great online fabric shop!

  44. craftytammie says:

    Thanks for sharing with us. I love Fat Quarter Shop!

  45. aida says:

    OMG, i would have such fun stocking up on Moda! sign me up!

  46. Joanna says:

    Love the Fat Quarter shop! Their orders are always packed so lovely:)

  47. Debra says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop! I’d love to get some Paula Prass’ Summer Soirée. Great Give-a-way!

  48. Cathy Grans says:

    You are my favorite website. I check your site twice (or more) weekly. You have the best patterns, quilt kits and bundles. I feel I know you, even though I don’t. My secret is that I love the smell of fabric and Moda fabric feels and smells the best. When I finish a quilt with moda fabric, it is so soft and feels wonderful. My secret.

  49. Barb says:

    Thank you, what a wonderful interview. It is so interesting to see the other side of the fabric business.

  50. Robin says:

    I love shopping at the Fat Quarter Shop. It’s so cool to hear about how it began and learn more about the talented woman behind it. Thanks so much for sharing the interview!