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. Shelley C says:

    Wonderful! Enjoy the boys amidst the grind of the day! Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. Sandy Murphy says:

    FQS has been my favourite online store since 2005. I had ordered a set of patterns from another online store (which shall remain nameless) and they had debited my credit card but the patterns never showed up. I saw an advert in one of our Australian Magazines for FQS and emailed Kimberley about my sad tale. She was wonderful and restored my faith in online shopping and I have my stash to prove it. I can log onto FQS and get to see all the latest fabrics – a lot of which we don’t see at our local quilt shops. FQS is the best!

  3. Katebits says:

    When my friends were trying to get me interested in quilting they showed me the FQS online. FQS was where I realized that I love love love love fabric.

  4. dotti says:

    I love hearing more about the fat quarter shop and Kimberley because I just love shopping there. It is just one of my favorites. The giveaway looks like so much fun!

  5. SewCalGal says:

    Really nice interview. It is fun to learn more about the owners of the Fat Quarter Shop. The seem delightful.

    SewCalGal
    http://www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com

  6. jodie says:

    They have always been friendly and helpful and I admire her for taking a passion and turning it in to an awesome business. Thanks for sharing more of their background.

  7. Mary Lou says:

    Love Fat Quarter Shop – just joined my first club, can’t wait to get the project! They are always very helpful and friendly! Congrats on the newest additions to the family and thanks for the giveaway!

  8. penny g says:

    I am impressed twins, another child, a husband and a 24/7 business – amazing. Great job on all of it.

  9. Carol Lewis says:

    Loved reading this interview. I’m one of the obsessed shoppers at the Fat Quarter Shop. I think the girls may know my mailing address by heart. I joined a contest once using Simplicity fabric and won 3rd prize for my apron. I’m in so many BOM’s at the Fat Quarter Shop it’s ridiculous, but I’m having fun. I love going to the FQS website and checking out what’s new and reading their blog.

  10. Hilary says:

    Excellent interview, thanks!

  11. Alison C says:

    I’m so glad little stores like this exist.

  12. Gwen says:

    Yay, what a great giveaway! And love the interview with a fellow mom of twins. :)

  13. Catherine says:

    I also love the FQS website. Thanks for the great interview, and the giveaway.

  14. kaylah says:

    Ohhh! i’d love to win. FQS is the best!

  15. Maile says:

    $75 giveaway? Drooool…. I love Fat Quarter Shop!

  16. Jennifer B says:

    Fat quarter shop is a cool site- love it thanks for the chance to win

    ejxd95@gmail.com

  17. Karen S. says:

    I agree with Kimberly about 3 Sisters…good interview…

  18. floribunda says:

    thanks for the interview — would love to win the prize!

  19. Heather says:

    great interview — it would be such a thrill to win! Thanks for the giveaway.

  20. Claudia says:

    I just LOVE the Fat Quarter Shop, and I’m so glad that you interviewed Kimberely, because now I have another blog to check out, True Up!

  21. Jan says:

    What a great interview. I buy way too much from FQS, and could us the GC.

  22. Shannon says:

    Wow, Kinberly wasn’t kidding about 24/7. I just placed my very first order (just stumbled upon FQS), accidentally made it twice, emailed and got a reply within less than 2 minutes. Now that is service!
    I am so tickled to find others that love fabric as much as I do! Keep up the fantastic work!!

  23. Suzanne says:

    Neat to “meet” the people behind the FQShop. And what a great giveaway!

  24. deb says:

    what a great interview. I love the fat quarter shop.
    They always have exactly what I’m looking for and great customer service and fantastic shipping time.

  25. Jen B. says:

    I didn’t realize that this was a small family company! Congratulations on a successful business and an expanding family!

  26. Jaclyn says:

    Great interview & amazing giveaway! I definitely have FQS bookmarked…a fabric addict’s dream.

  27. Dorrie says:

    It’s so fun to have Kimberly in the “hot seat”~she’s usually the one doing the interviewing. I love FQS, I can always, always, always get what I’m looking for there. I especially love the Bella Solids and that she carries all of Tanya Whelan’s fabrics. And we’re both Mother’s of Multiples! Thanks for offering the giveaway!

  28. jessica says:

    loving the possibility of winning some nice fabric.

  29. Helen says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop. The BOM are always the best.

  30. Nicole says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop!! I do try to shop locally, but if I can’t find something, I know I can always count on them…..plus, they have one of the best sale sections i have ever seen!!

  31. skippingdaisies says:

    I came across the Fat Quarter Shop thru some craft blogs and i just love it. I live in Australia and fabric is really expensive here, so its great to find a well priced fabric store, with lots of inspiration. Keep up the great work FQS team, we love you down under!!

  32. Tracy says:

    Thanks for the interview. I am just starting some quilts and am interested in trying out jelly rolls and fat quarters. I’ll check out the shop!

  33. Jeannette says:

    I visit the shop often due to the fabrics that are availble and would love to be in the draw.

  34. I love shopping at FQS. They always seem to have what I need for my special projects.

  35. Noela Young says:

    I have loved shopping at the FQS since I found it a few years ago on the net. The service has always been excellent and the range of fabrics great. My favourite designers are 3 Sisters too. I have lots of their ranges (some still waiting to be used). I enjoyed reading about the shops beginnings and of course Kimberleys answers to your questions. Thanks……

  36. Viv says:

    Great interview. I love the FQ shop. Their website is awesome, so easy to navigate around.

  37. Oh, please count me in. I love FQS!

  38. Karen Notley says:

    The Fat Quarter Shop is the best online shop for patchwork fabrics. I live in Australia and their service and packaging is excellent. I have just finished a BOM and it was superbly presented. The instructions were some of the best I have ever used.

  39. As a fledgling online fabric shop owner myself, I found this interview particularly inspiring. You really CAN have it all! I would love to win the gift certificate to FQS – it would help me build my own stash which is sorely depleted after making wedding gift quilts all summer (and into the winter, I’m sure)!

  40. Anne D says:

    I love the FQS. I love moda precuts and fat quarter bundles. Thanks for the giveaway

  41. Aniza says:

    oh! please…..count me in…nice interview!

  42. Shawn says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop and check in almost daily. The website is wonderful and the friendly emails after purchase are great. The package arrives promptly and I almost forget I paid for it when I see the prettiness inside! I already have my list made if I win!!

  43. Wendy says:

    I purchase fabric almost exclusively from Fat Quarter Quilt Shop. I love their website-it is easy to navigate and their customer service is excellent!

  44. Cherie Wright says:

    What an inspiration! I just started quilting this year, and I found the store when I started. I think I’ve placed nearly all of my orders with FQS!

  45. Pat B says:

    Thanks for the interesting read. Although I have been a Fat Quarter Shop customer for some time and enjoy reading their blog, I learned a lot about the “behind the scenes” running of one of my favorite online quilt shops. Best wishes for continued success and congratulations to the Jolly family! :-)

  46. Donna says:

    Thank you so much for a peek into your life – and congrats on your beautiful new additions! I must admit I am partial to seeing what’s available in your Christmas store! :-)

  47. Gena says:

    It was fun reading about FQS. Kimberly and her helpers get some of my $$ regularly!!

  48. Amy says:

    Leave it to the Fat Quarter Shop to introduce us to True Up! I’ll be adding you to my blog check list, Kim!

  49. Tina M. says:

    Wow, I already love this store and reading about it only made it more fun :)

    Thanks!!!

  50. Brieanne says:

    FQS is my favorite shop! I am all the way in Canada and only order from them, they are always so nice, carry exactly what I didn’t know I wanted yet !(LOL!) and they ship it to me fast, so I don’t have to spend countless days imagining this new project, I can just get right down to work and hop back online to find another after.