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. jo smith says:

    i love looking at each new collection, kimberly must have a pair of superfast runners to keep up with everything, especially with the new additions.

  2. peg says:

    Kimberly also has the newest and the best and MODA being my favorite there’s always something I “need.”

  3. Terry says:

    I always love seeing what’s new at the FQS! Thanks for the giveaway! :0)

  4. Linda Smith says:

    Wow – how does she do it?
    Well, I don’t anyone who can do it better.
    Thanks for a peek into the structure, or not, that your life is.
    Articles like this keep us all knitted together – maybe I should save “woven” together.
    Thx again!

  5. carolyn says:

    I love Fat Quarter Shop. I can spend a lot of time on this site!

  6. Kelley says:

    I love FQS – Kimberly is so innovative and tech-savvy with her marketing. We can learn a lot from her!

  7. Nichole says:

    Great interview! Can’t believe you do all this and just had twins. Here’s hoping you are getting some sleep at night!

  8. Lotte says:

    A family and round the clock business and still enough ideas to drop some of them – i’m impressed. I espcially like and look forward to the newsletters :-)

  9. Debby says:

    I look forward to the emails from FQS. From fabric to recipes FQS is always welcomed in my sewing room!

  10. Nan says:

    What a great interview! I have been a customer of FQS for 4 years now, and they never disappoint with their products or their customer service. This is my first time to your blog, but I will be back!

  11. Caryn says:

    I LOVE the FQS. My family knew I was a big fan when they saw the Christmas card from the FQS- complete with jelly rolls. Kimberly and her ladies give the best customer service and actually listen to customers’ comments and suggestions, which is a rarity in today’s world. Long live the FQS. Kimberly, my prayers are with you and your family- what a blessing to have two new adorable additions.

  12. Jeanne Gray says:

    Love the interview-

  13. Love, love, love FQS–been a customer since 2003!

  14. Roxanne says:

    The Fat Quarters Shop is by far my favorite online quilt store! I check the site nearly every day–sometimes to see what is new and sometimes for inspiration. The variety and selection cannot be beat.
    The customer service is The MOST!
    The recipes are a wonderful bonus.
    Since I live in the Austin area, shopping at FQS also allows me to “keep it local”, which is always a plus.

  15. Ramona Hamilton says:

    For almost five years, The Fat Quarter Shop has been my favorite place to “go.” I have enjoyed reading about all the people who have made this the best on the web. Your selection, ideas, service, and web site are just super.

  16. CraftTeaLady says:

    I have been recently reminded of my love for quilts, quilting, and all things fabric. I don’t own a great machine, so I have put things on hold for far too long!

    Thanks for the chance.~G

  17. Sherry Starr says:

    I love FQS, and spend a lot of my time looking at the new fabric lines.

  18. Ann Tarrega says:

    I love this on-line store and I loved hearing more about Kymberly. I look forward to many more fabric-buying jaunts!!

    P.S. Congratulations on the new arrivals xx

  19. J.P. says:

    I am a new sewer and love looking at all the beautiful stuff on the FQS site. Thank you for the interview! I love to know about the people behind the different places that I enjoy visiting.

  20. laura says:

    I am so happy that this Q and A session happened. I always love looking into why stores are the way they are and who is running the whole thing behind the scenes. I love buying fabric and this online store is absolutely my fave!

  21. Barb Maietta says:

    Great interview!! I love reading about how quilt shops got started. Big congrats on the twins also!!

  22. Lisa Zook says:

    I really enjoyed the interview. The FQS is my go-to site whenever I am shopping for fabric.

  23. Sam E. says:

    I love FQS and babies, so this entry is clearly a score for me. Yay!

  24. Doris says:

    THIS is definitely my favorite on-line fabric shop!! FQS has the best selection and the customer service is phenomenal!! They also have the best BOM’s!! Keep up the great work!! I also love their selection of Charm Packs!!

    Thanks, Doris

  25. Annette says:

    I accidently stumbled on the Fat Quarter website several years ago. What a find! I have been regular customer since that day. It is so much fun to get your e-mails showcasing the newest fabrics and the blog has the most delectible recipes. Kimberly is so super, always knows her stuff. I have referred your site and blog to several of my relatives and quilting buddies.
    Thanks for all you do for all the fabric-addicted gals out there.
    Nettie

  26. CAlili says:

    It is always a pleasure to see a newsletter from the FQS in my inbox. What a great shop and a wonderful place to work!

  27. Sherry Moran says:

    I love the FQ shop! I’ve started this year’s Mystery Designer BOM and it is great!

  28. Linda says:

    Oh thanks for doing this interview. I glad to learn more about the person behind the store I love so much. It was a great interview.

  29. Sandra Davidson says:

    Hi, I just love your web site and always look forward to Fridays when I read the jolly jabber. I love getting to know all the people who design all the beautiful fabric, sometimes I spend a whole evening going over your site and catalogue. I live in Canada and would love to order a lot more from you but postal costs are just out of this world. Kimberly congrad on the birth of your twins and I just love your little Emma, boys are fun, i just had two grandsons two years ago and I sure love being a grandma. Thanks for a wonderful site that lets me live in fantsy a few hours every week. Sandra Davidson

  30. S Kelly says:

    Have ordered from the Fat Quarter Shop. Always receive my order within a couple days of ordering. Have had questions and her staff are great to work with. FQS is my favorite quilting website for current quilting needs!!

  31. It is so great to read about how well you are going in business and still maintain a family. It truly gives all of us WAHM something to strive for.

  32. Peggy M. says:

    Fat Quarter Shop has THE BEST customer service hands down and a fabulous collection of products. Always my go to place! I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to win! Thanks for the great interview. I love knowing what goes on behind the scenes.

  33. cindy novick says:

    It is great to know some of the F.A.Q’s of Kimberly and the FQS!!! In my opinion, FQS is the BEST online shoppiing experience out there…great selection, unbeatable service, and a super easy and fun website!

  34. Rory says:

    I heart FQ Shop!! They are the best, fastest shipping, easiest to use online shop!!

  35. Lisa Leimone says:

    I love getting the FQ shop friday emails! Please sign me up for this wonderful drawing!

    Lisa

  36. Kathy says:

    I have made a few purchases from the FQS and they are wonderful! I would recommend them to anyone. Sometimes you see online shops and wonder how good/reliable they are, but the FQS is very professional and speedy. Which can be a bad thing when you’ve put yourself on a no-buy stash busting year!! Thanks for the interview — it’s nice to hear about the people behind the sites we visit!

  37. Mardeen Libby says:

    The Fat Quarter Shop is my Favorite! If I am looking for something specific or creative, I always go there first. They have some of the best ideas, and they ship super fast. I loved hearing about Kimberly’s favorites, as they are some of mine as well.
    Mardeen

  38. jill says:

    My favorite online shop! Always have what I’m looking for.

  39. Nancy C. in Utah says:

    Ah the Fat Quarter Shop!!! What is there to say except Quality Products, The BEST customer service anywhere, bar none and that I visit it every single day. If I miss a day, I’m either too sick to get out of bed or I’m out of town. I’m a member of their 2009 Designer Mystery BOM but I haven’t cut into the fabrics yet. I normally stay right up to date on my BOM’s but this is my first from from the Fat Quarter Shop and when the finishing kit and first month’s block kit arrived it was instant love. The fabrics are so beautiful and they have such a high quality feel to them that I have been lovingly placing them in a project tote and at least twice a week I pull them out, spread them on my sewing table and just admire them…Okay, Okay, so I fondle them too. Yup, my name is Nancy and I am a Fabric Fondler. I just can’t help myself. Don’t worry though Kimberly, I WILL cut into them and get caught up on the blocks very soon now. As to customer service, I wanted to make a “Prayer Quilt” for a very dear friend that suffered a devastating brain aneurism. I’m not a new quilter but not what you would call ‘seasoned’ yet either. I wanted to make something that would be beautiful, using soothing colors and work up quickly. Jocelyn saw my original post about my friend and commented on it. In just a few days, via email and phone calls with Jocelyn, she had helped me with fabric and pattern selection and this special project turned out beautifully. It exceeded all my expectations. I simply could not have done it without Jocelyn’s and others at their shop. I would never have gotten that type of personal service in any of the shops I frequent locally. Well, obviously I can’t say enough about the shop or the people so I will just leave it at that and say that win or lose on the giveaway, I thank you so much for this opportunity brag on the Fat Quarter Shop. They are the real deal and the complete package. Do I need to say I love them? Nah…I think you gathered that from all my spouting. Good luck to everyone in this giveaway. Also, thanks for your great interview and I also love your delightful blog!
    teenietaters@msn.com

  40. Chloe Rocan says:

    FQS is a new online store for me and I’ve just made my first online purchase. As Kimerley stated every store has a different feel and I love the vibrant and funky feel the store conveys with their fabric selection.

  41. Debby says:

    I ‘truely’ love this blog, and always look forward to reading it.

    Debby

  42. Kris says:

    I love the fat quarter shop — I wish they had a brick and mortar shop, I would be there every weekend!

  43. Danna O says:

    I look forward to FQS emails everyday whether its an interview, a recipe,a discount for the day and all the new fabrics and ideas! Oh yes pics of the twins and Emma too. Thanks much sponsoring the giveaway.

  44. Penny Holliday says:

    Loved the interview – I knew Kimberly was amazing! With the best of the best selections, wonderful personalized customer service,great E-newsletters & blogs w/always current & inspiring FGS info I feel like i’m there visiting & shopping at a store rather than online! Truly unique!

  45. Peggy Baker says:

    This interview was such a great idea. I love seeing your family picture. how nice to finally “see” you and your family. I have been a customer for quite q while. I have a son who was critically ill far away for q

  46. phyllis says:

    I love this site. It’s like how we get to know the people at our local shops while they cut our selections, thats how FQS makes you feel.

    With the Jolly Jabber, new fabric lines, the recipes, as well as the new FQS website, the FatQuarterShop feels just the shop down the street.

  47. sfer says:

    So generous!!
    Thanks for the opportunity!!

  48. I am glad that I found your blog. I love FQS, and their customer service is wonderful.

    Patsy

  49. Megan says:

    I would love True Up and the Fat Quarter Shop! What an awesome giveaway!

  50. Kim Carlson says:

    Have ordered from the Fat Quarter Shop before and was impressed! Planning on ordering again soon, and that $75 would REALLY HELP! : )
    Awesome giveaway! And fun interview to read! Thanks!