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. PaulaK says:

    What an interesting interview – and a beautiful young family. It is amazing where the love of fabric can lead! Thank you for the opportunity to win such a generous gift!

  2. Susan says:

    I’ve had great experiences with the Fat Quarter Shop…wonderful customer service. I always look forward to my Monday and Friday email from them. I think I’ll have to see about one of the monthly fat quarter bundle clubs…something else to look forward to.:)
    Congratulations on the new deliveries. Enjoy!

  3. Robyn says:

    Love the Fat Quarter Shop…Fairly new to this online fabric shopping experience and have so appreciated thier selection and prices…and all the wonderful information from True Up as well!

  4. Jacqui says:

    Oh this would be fabulous to win! Though I imagine choosing the fabrics would be hard with such a great range. :)

  5. shelly says:

    Nice interview. I’m in Austin too.

  6. Katherine says:

    Ah, yes. Fabric addiction. I’m (more than) somewhat familiar with that malady. I could always use help feeding it.

  7. Kellie says:

    Love the Fat Quarter shop and their amazing range, especially all the pre-cuts.

  8. Stine says:

    I LOVE the variety of fat quarter packs! Definitely one of my favorite online shops!

  9. Vanessa says:

    I’ve always like perusing the Fat Quarter Shop website, it’s no nicely organized. Thanks for showing us the women behind the website!

  10. Mandi says:

    Going to The Fat Quarter Shop always makes me light-headed…. too much good stuff! Too many great items! Too much wonderful and necessary fabric!!!!

    Thanks for the chance to enter this great giveaway!

  11. Kristy says:

    It’s always so interesting getting to know the sponsors. FQ Shop has such a great selection, I’ve been visiting the christmas cloth section quite often recently. Thank you FQ Shop for the generous giveaway!

  12. Sarah S says:

    Thanks for the super interesting interview! I’d love to win this shopping spree!! I’m a complete fabric addict! :)

  13. Carmen says:

    WOW $75??? I think I’d be set up for a whole year! Cool giveaway, loved the interview.

    ThAnKs!
    Carmen

  14. Brittany says:

    Congratulations to the beautiful twins!

  15. Stephanie says:

    What a great place to work!! I would love to be able to work with fabric and patterns all day!

  16. La La Llama says:

    Another great interview, you’re always coming up with great articles. Thanks!

  17. Nikki says:

    I only buy my fabric from the Fat Quarter Shop and I live in England!

    I think they have the best selection, price and variety available. Because I live so far away I am relying on the website pictures of the fabrics and believe me they are a very good match to the real thing! Your purchases come beautifully packaged and I always feel as though they have been handled with care and sent with a heartfelt thanks. I am a faithful reader of their blog and also receive the newsletter and I wouldn’t buy my fabric anywhere else.

  18. Alisa says:

    Oh, to win this! Lovely interview, thanks!

  19. Anna says:

    Wow! That’s a very generous gift cetificate! Thanks for making it possible for us to try our luck! :)

    FQS looks great!

  20. Ellen Easter says:

    The Fat Quarter shops is one of my favourite US shops. Kimberley provides a great service to even remote parts of Australia – job well done

  21. edina says:

    Great interview – please enter me in this wonderful giveaway – thanks!

  22. strikkelise says:

    Congratulations with the twins!
    I’m often surprised to find out how small the staff behind online shops are, very few people run what looks like a big business. Thanks for the interview.

  23. Tara J says:

    FQS has become my main source of fabric – their selection is great, and their customer service is outstanding!

  24. Kate says:

    FQS is one of the best. It was fun to read a bit about the behind the scenes action. Thanks!

  25. Jen says:

    Great giveaway and interview… I love knowing those behind these fantastic sites. FQS always seems to have the fabric I need before others, thanks for introducing us!

  26. Liesl says:

    FQS looks like a great source for fabrics.
    Count me in for the giveaway. :)

  27. meg99 says:

    I’m glad to know what Kimberly think of FQS.
    FQS is the best fabric shop in the U.S. I’ve ever know.
    I can get a lot of information about fabrics,patterns,and so on.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  28. Brenda says:

    Have always had fun purchasing from here.

  29. Signe says:

    Thank you for making me aware of The Fat Quarter Shop. What a fun an beautiful place to feed my fabric addiction. Yum!
    I bet it’s hard work running the shop, but it has to be the funnest job ever too.

  30. I’m so excited to see that you are offering pre-order on Tanya Whelan’s Dolce! Can’t wait to get my hands on this! Thanks for the fabulous giveaway!!

  31. Renee E says:

    I have seen the shop during the fabshophop and i am with you one the florals! I love them!

  32. emtdlb says:

    I am so jealous you live so close to so much fabrics. It is so neat to see a place that is so much like family and still a successful business. Usually those things don’t go well together. Thanks for the chance-you can never have enough fabric.

  33. Melissa H. says:

    Thanks for the info. I love learning about how people got started in the fabric business!

  34. Lindsay says:

    Wow! Love fat quarter shop and 75 dollars there would be great!

  35. MzTallulah says:

    It’s so inspiring when someone succeeds in turning their passion into their day job, and manages to involve loved ones as well as a close-knit staff that feels like an extension of their family!

  36. This is such a great shop, and a very interesting article! Congratulations on your new twin boys!

  37. Marilyn G says:

    I have ordered fabric from the Fat Quarter Shop many times. They have a great website and they always get my order right. They carry the Moda Bella solids in Jelly Rolls which are great when you have a quilt with sashing strips between the blocks.

  38. kern says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop. They carry Lecien which I loved devotedly.

  39. Vicky says:

    The FQS is my favorite shop, online or bricks & mortar! I visit daily to see what’s new!

  40. AmBurg says:

    They always have such great fabric! I’d love to win. Hoping… hoping…

  41. Meg in CT says:

    What a cool interview–I adore FQS! Thanks for the opportunity!

  42. Amy says:

    I have LOVED the Fat Quarter Shop since I first discovered it about 3 years ago. I love the HUGE selection – I can always find the fabric line I am looking for.

  43. sewbloom says:

    what a joyous, practical life

  44. Joanna says:

    I have Fat Quarter Shop’s website as one of my favorites. Maybe it’s a good thing they don’t have a brick and mortar shop – I’d be there all the time! What a great business!

  45. John says:

    I LOVE the Fat Quarter Shop! $75 to spend there would be such a welcome treat! Keep up the good work, FQS and True Up!

  46. Monica Gee says:

    I would love some fat quarters!

  47. Allison S. says:

    Pretty please with sugar on top, pick me!! Thank you so much for the opportunity–FQS is a fabulous shop!

  48. Achaia says:

    Please enter me! I love fabric, and the Fat Quarter Shop has such a wonderful variety!

    Thanks!

  49. isa says:

    Wauw. What a generous give away.
    Thank you for the chance :-)

  50. ozjane says:

    Nice to see Kimberly Kevin and Emma and to hear more of the story.
    My favorite, most dangerous time with this shop is during December. I must try to save for it this year.