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. Christy says:

    I just placed an order with the Fat Quarter Shop – what a great selection. This interview was a nice way to learn more about the person behind the business!

  2. Melissa says:

    What a great way to let us “know” the person behind the business. I think it is easy to forget that shops online aren’t all by big corporations, and I’d rather throw my $$ at a real life person instead of a corp!

  3. Beth says:

    Fat Quarter Shop is my go to fabric store!

  4. Ashley says:

    Great interview, and great giveaway – thanks so much! I enjoyed the behind the scenes look at the FQS!

  5. aimee says:

    What a good concept! I read their Jolly Jabber, but it’s nice to get some background info. Thanks!

  6. Lindzie H says:

    I love that you have all the fabrics from Moda! I love your shop! THanks for the chance to win!

  7. Kersten says:

    Nice to hear the background of the Fat Quarter Shop.

  8. helen says:

    The Fat Quarter Shop is one of my favorite online shops. Their shop is the first place I look when I’m planning a new quilt because their presentation of fabric lines is the best I’ve seen online. And I love the Coming Soon section because so far that is the best source I’ve seen for new fabric lines. Of course, then I have to wait for that line to arrive. Do I really have to wait until October for Aster Manor? They do have nice BOMs. And it is always a pleasure to order from them–they ship so fast! But I knew that when I received a Christmas card from them that I might have shopped there a bit much.

  9. Sally W says:

    Wow very cool shop!!

  10. Laura says:

    I look forward every month for my Fat Quarter Club shipment. It was very interesting getting a peak inside the Shop. Would love to go on a little spree!

  11. Jean Burke says:

    The Fat Quarter shop is an awesome place for quilters – when I have a bad day, it’s nice just to browse through and look at the beautiful selection. Thank you for working so hard for us quilters. All the best to Kim and her new bundles of joy! Piece…

  12. Susan says:

    Great shop! Congrats on the twins!

  13. randi says:

    FQS is a great site to purchase from. Great customer service!

  14. Tonya says:

    Thank you for the interview. I have always loved shopping at the Fat Quarter Shop. It is nice to put a face behind the brand. congratulations on the twins. I couldn’t even imagine how much work and patience that will take.

  15. Superb interview! I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Fat Quarter Shop. Thanks for the chance to win the gift certificate! Something to dream about!!!!!

  16. Jenn says:

    Sounds like an amazing place!

  17. Victoria says:

    I have way more than $75 sitting in my shopping cart aka wish list on Fat Quarter Shop – I would love very much to win!

  18. Jocelyn says:

    Thanks for all the great info about Fat Quarter Shop. Your babies are just too cute!!! Thanks for the generous giveaway!

  19. Jackie H says:

    What a fun, happy shop you have! :) It’s always so fascinating to hear more about the owners and how they got started. :)

  20. Kathryn Laposata says:

    Thanks for the interview. And the generous give away would be wonderful to win. There’s much more than $75 worth of fabric I’d love to buy.

  21. Fanny says:

    I very interesting and inspiring interview! Thank you for sharing. I would have a ball spending $75. Please enter me in the generous drawing!

  22. Carrie says:

    What a dream job! I love the Fat Quarter Shop website too :)

  23. Jen says:

    What a generous give away…
    I love FQ! It’s so easy to find things and the CS is amazing! Sometimes I prefer shopping online more then my local shops!

  24. Karen says:

    What a great interview. Big fan of their shop!

  25. laurel says:

    I’ve ordered from FQS a couple of times and always had terrific service – congrats and thanks!

  26. sksurfgirl says:

    I LOVE Fat Quarter Shop, which I originally found through True Up. Have ordered several beautiful fabrics.
    Thank you!

  27. Harley says:

    What an awesome giveaway! I’d love to be entered, because I love the FQS! :D

  28. Beth says:

    Great interview and what a cool shop!

  29. Pamela says:

    FQS is awesome and one of places I check 1st for great new things! Great interview!

  30. Barbara says:

    Great interview. I love the Fat Quarter Shop. They have great things and their blog is always tempting me.
    Thanks for the great giveaway

  31. Linda A. says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop and have ordered from them since the beginning…as I was just starting into the quilting bug…Great to have them around!!

  32. Dawn says:

    I heart FQS!! It is one of my favorites!!

  33. Amy says:

    I love the FQS, thanks for the great interview, and giveaway.

  34. Barbara says:

    Congratulations on your beautiful family and your wonderful business!

  35. Rosemary says:

    Congratulations to the Jolly family on their new arrivals. It is always lovely to find out about the people who run a shop. It is great to see a supportive family unit. I love browsing through the lovely fabrics and making my selections with the knowledge the service is always perfect.

  36. Jo Anne says:

    Thanks for an interesting interview with Kimberly. I have long been a fan of the Fat Quarter Shop. I would be delighted to win that gift certificate.

  37. Barbara says:

    What a great interview! It is so interesting to hear from Kimberly about the Fat Quarter Shop. I love getting things from them because everything is always perfect. Also, their customer service can’t be beat.

  38. Cathy M says:

    Fat Quarter Shop provides the best service in the business and has a fantastic selection – always my “go to first” quilting website.

  39. CJ says:

    I learned so much about the Fat Quarter Shop! Things I just had no idea about. Interesting!
    Thanks for the interview and the chance at a GC!

  40. Carolyn says:

    Wow, in all the time I’ve been getting lovely packages from FQS, I never noticed that they were in Houston! I always thought they were from somewhere in California. I love dealing with Kim and her staff, I can always find what I want and it arrives beautifully packaged. Thanks for the article!

  41. Kelli says:

    I love FQS. I just bought something there last week and it was all I could do to stick to my budget since they have such great stuff!!!!

  42. katie winn says:

    What a great interview. It’s fun to see a little behind the scenes of the store I love.

  43. Carol says:

    I love the FQS. I probably go to the site 3-4 times a week, just to see what is new. The blog is also great. I feel like I know the folks working there. They are great!

  44. Nancy says:

    Uhh… one out of about 240 is not good odds, but I’d love the gift certificate so I guess I’ll try anyway. Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

  45. smilingwoman says:

    Congratulations on the birth of twin boys! So glad to hear about your Fat Quarter Shop… would love to have $75 to spend on your delicious collections of fabrics! Thanks for the chance at a great prize!

  46. Patty says:

    Great Interview and Great Giveaway. I would love to get the French General fabric……..see I am already thinking what I’d get if I win!!

  47. Deb says:

    I enjoyed reading the interview and love to check out the Fat Quarter Shop for all their new fabrics! Pls enter me for a chance to win.

  48. Brina says:

    Oh, wishing the Jolly family many happy days ahead with twins, and wishing them a wee bit more sleep than I sure they are getting!
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    Brina
    blrohloff at aol dot com

  49. Lisa J says:

    I love FQS. Their website is FANTASTIC! Definitely the best out there….so clear and bright and easy to navigate. Thanks for the giveaway!!!!

  50. molly says:

    This giveaway is a dream come true!! How exciting. Count me in!!