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. Meghan says:

    Thanks for the great interview! I didn’t realize that Fat Quarter Shop was out of Austin – now I can justify my fabric purchases by telling myself that I’m supporting a local business :)

  2. Jessica says:

    I’ve not shopped from FQS yet…not sure why. They sound like a great company! Thanks for hosting this giveaway!!

  3. Michelle says:

    I just emailed them today to ask about the new Tanya Whelan line, I would love to have a gift certificate!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Oh oh oh! How I would love to be the lucky winner – I have so many ‘back to school’ projects that I’m itching to start, this would be a great help!

    Jennifer

  5. RobinW says:

    Wow! What a great prize!!

  6. Adrienne says:

    I too have spent a lot of month with the FQS and would love to b the winner and spend even more money with them.

  7. Becky says:

    I love their website and fabrics and prices!

  8. Sharon says:

    Awesome fabrics, congrats on the babies! Enjoy every moment as they grow so fast.

  9. katrina says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  10. Suzanne says:

    The Fat Quarter Shop is one of my favorites. They get way too much of my paychecks!

  11. Great interview! It’s always nice to *meet* the faces behind the shop :)

  12. lahuitrefrite says:

    Thanks, as always, for posting these interviews. It’s both exciting and daunting to those of us who are always thinking about our “next” careers.

  13. Lizzy says:

    FQS is one of my regular stops love their selection of moda precuts.

  14. Susannah says:

    FQS is a dangerous place. I don’t even visit unless I’ve got at least $60 to spare. Ridiculously fast and friendly customer service too. Keep up the good work!

  15. Stina says:

    Ahh… I just love that shop.. my favourite of them all.. and Living in Sweden.. I depend on online shopping…ANd I love the fabrics the have.. and Im like Kimberley.. love Three Sisters and florals… :o ))))

  16. olivia says:

    fabric is an obsession i don’t often get to indulge! thanks!

  17. Alessandra says:

    what a great job… should be so much fun. And What a giveaway…

  18. lisa says:

    thanks for sharing! I have been a fan of the FQS for a while, have yet to make my first purchase but do drool a lot. It was so nice to learn a little more about it. Now I really want to go indulge there!

  19. Kelly says:

    Love FQS! I read the blog and like hearing from designers about their new lines. It’s the first place I look for inspiration for a new project, because you can see all of the newest fabric lines in one place.

  20. FQS has the best customer service. I enjoy shopping there. FQS is very efficient getting out orders. This was a great interview, and I feel like I know Kimberly even better now.

  21. Ellen Ban says:

    Enjoyed the interview and congrats on their new twins.
    I always look forward to the Jolly Jabber and online shopping!

  22. would love to win and love all the FACTS you always have in your blog…GREAT INFO!

  23. Sara says:

    FQS is about the only place I shop online. I love everything they have. I too like 3 sisters.

  24. nichole says:

    i really love the fat quarter shop. i also love that buying from them is “supporting the little guy”. :)

  25. Tressa says:

    Such a fun site that you have here. Will have to add to my feed.

  26. Karen says:

    I would love to win that gift certificate!

  27. Ruth B says:

    Fun article! My son lives in Austin with his new wife and I hope to get there someday. Sounds like your stash is alot like mine. But I’m sure yours is bigger!!

  28. Kim K. says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop! Great interview and what an awesome giveaway! Thanks!

  29. Kaye Prince says:

    I love Fat Quarter Shop – they always have the best fabric! I also read both the Jolly Jabber blog and the True Up blog so it’s really neat to see the two come together this way!

    Thanks for the great giveaway; I’d love to win!

  30. karen says:

    A lovely little shop!
    Thanks for the intview and giveaway :)

  31. Jennifer says:

    Wow, that would buy a lot of fabric! Thanks for the giveaway!

  32. Alice S says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop! its my go-to place for fabric.

  33. Carrie says:

    Love the Fat Quarter shop and it’s fun to read a little more of the behind the scenes.

  34. Tracey H says:

    I love the selection of fabric at the Fat Quarter Shop! Congrats to Kimberley and the new babies!

  35. Jodie says:

    They have the best fabrics! Love that shop!

  36. Sandy K. says:

    What a great shop…hinted to my family for Gift Certificates and got 2….great customer service when I redeemed both at the same time and needed help!

  37. Julie says:

    I love FQS! It is my favorite place to go each morning with my cup of tea. I love the ever-changing supply of fabric, block of the months, patterns, etc. I am one of the fabriholics that Kimberly is talking about! Their blog is awesome too!

  38. Heather Groves says:

    Great interview, I love reading about the folks behind the scenes. The FQS is one of my favorite online sites, especially for fat quarter bundles….

  39. Debbie says:

    Great interview. Having placed many orders from Fat Quarter Shop it was interesting to read about the business side of the owner. They definitely run a top notch fabric business. Thanks for the article.

  40. Julie Twitchell says:

    Nice to hear more about the owner of fatquartershop. Cute family. I am new to quilting, but I am officially addicted to the fatquartershop website.

  41. Dianne says:

    I would love to win something from them!

  42. Holly C. says:

    I love fatquartershop! I would love to get a gift certificate there! Pick me!

  43. Dora Dis says:

    My favorite online quilting shop. I think I would have stopped quilting if I had not found it by chance few years ago when googleing quilt shops. Living in a small country with few quilt shops can be frustrating but I was saved by the FQS !

  44. Jennifer says:

    Great interview. So good to see a picture of the whole family. I love love love Kimberly’s shop! Mainly because I live in TX too and I get my stuff the next day!!! Such good products and the customer service is A+! Jenn

  45. Melissa says:

    I browse FatQuarterShop all the time but I haven’t ordered yet. I think I will soon though. Thanks for the great interview. I always feel better about ordering online when I get to know the faces behind the sites.

  46. Nancy Bird says:

    Very interesting – I’ve always loved her shop, and it was nice reading about her and the business!

  47. Sandy Allen says:

    I love Fat Quarter Shop! Thanks so much for the insight to the store and the members there. It’s great to see someone who likes what they do too!

  48. Karen says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop! Love the chance to win a $75 gift certificate to it!

  49. Sarah Greider says:

    I’ve been a customer of the Fat Quarter Shop for a few years now. I love the way they package their shipments and I always look forward to seeing something from the shop in my mailbox!

  50. Amy H. says:

    I love 3 Sisters too! Hands down, my favorite. Plus, I have 3 sisters who quilt with me! :o )