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. Sheri says:

    I have always enjoyed Fat Quarter Shop however Kimberly is the one that got me start with the clubs. So for the past 2 1/2 yrs I have been enjoying the Layer Cake and Clothesline club. Her personality is what I was attacked to and the way she keeps her blog update when she off to a show that made me feel like I was right there with her. So Kimberly Thank you for being a wonderful person and starting FQS. Like everyone else I would so love to win the 75 Gift Cert. You always have the most current collection I love that!!! Just think you will have some great fun with 3 children helping you with all that fabric!!! I loved the interview that you gave too!!

  2. Jamie says:

    Great interview. Busy family and busy business – sounds like fun!

  3. Beth Street says:

    I love the fat quarter shop for precisely the things mentioned in this blog. Every package I receive is so nicely done up and even the receipt is in a nice envelope instead of just being thrown in there.
    I also love the fact that your inventory is up to date and that it is huge!!! :)
    Beth in Stockton, CA

  4. Hannah says:

    Congrats to the Jolly family. I have 18 month old twins. It is such a blessing.

  5. Donna says:

    I absolutely love the Fat Quarter Shop. The customer service is great and I love the selection of great fabric! Thanks for the great interview! Would love the gift certificate too! Thanks for the giveaway and btw I enjoy reading your blog as well!

    Donna in Texas

  6. Judith says:

    I love fat quarters, they give me the chance to buy a wider varitey of fabrics. As a bag maker it means that I can produce a wider range of fabric.

  7. Jennifer H says:

    I was just on their site! What a generous giveaway! Thanks!

  8. Katherine L. says:

    Thanks for the interview. It is always interesting to see the face behind the fabric stores where we all shop!

  9. Candy S says:

    Love FQS…service is great and what a selection!

  10. Julia says:

    I love fat quarter shop <3

  11. Gloriajean says:

    Thank’s for doing the interview. It was fun to get to know a little more about the person behind fat quarter’s web site.

  12. Beverly Lawer says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop. Their service is excellent. I have been buying things for the last 2 years and will continue to be a regular customer. I love looking at all the new fabrics that come in. MODA is my favorite fabric line! Thank you!

  13. damia says:

    I love FQ shop! Soooo many great fabrics! :)

  14. Sharyn says:

    This was a fun blog to read. I love the behind the scene stories. FQS is a fun web store and I visit at least once a day.

  15. Sandy G says:

    I also love Fat Quarter Shop. I love Jolly Jabber. The $75.00 Gift Certificate would be fantastic. I have been buying most of my material from the Fat Quarter Shop and they always have everything I want.

    Sandy

  16. dorothy says:

    FQS is one of my favorite online quilt stores! they really do have awesome customer service–a great range of fabrics–and fantastic sales :-) i would love a $75 gift cert–though i’d probably end up spending much more!

  17. barbara says:

    I just read the interview on the Trueup blog, so I found out for the first time about the FQS. And I live in Austin for crying out loud. Going straight away to check out their offerings. Wow! I’d love a gift certificate, I guess we all would, huh?

  18. Michele says:

    Oh, the twins are so cute. I’d love to pick up some moda marbles with the $75 gift certificate.

    Have a great weekend!

    Cheers,
    Michele
    Quilting Gallery

  19. Michelle says:

    I love the FQS and would go crazy if I won the gift certificate. Learned about the giveaway on their blog so this is the first time I’ve been to yours. Will definitely be back in the future.

  20. Polly Blank says:

    Kimberly,
    Congrats on your new boys and Emma. What a nice family. I’ve ordered from you before and enjoy your fast service. I like reading your Jolly Jabber.

  21. Diane says:

    Thanks for a great interview and all the interesting information. I’ve been reading FQS/Jolly Jabber for a long time. My friend lives in the Virgin Islands where fabric options are scarce. She wants me to send her your link! I will! Thanks for a fun chance to win big!

  22. Lynn Vogel Turbes says:

    I LOVE MODA!!!

  23. Great interview! Now each time I open the FQS twice-weekly email I will think of this. And I would LOVE to win the gift card!
    Kat

  24. Amy says:

    I also LOVE LOVE LOVE FQS. Their site and customer service are unmatched. I always look forward to their e-mails and blogs. It truly is a great family run business.

  25. Maxine says:

    What an awesome giveaway! Sign me up :)

  26. Amanda says:

    Love it! FQS is my favorite fabric store!

  27. Jeannie says:

    One of my favorite on-line haunts! All the Moda kits, and so on. I’d definitely use the gift certificate for a fat quarter stack of the newest collections! Like Authentic, or French Laundry. A real splurge.

  28. Sue says:

    I have been a big fan of Kimberly and Fat Quarter Shop for a few years now. I can attest to the fact that they do indeed have incredible customer service! I would be beyond thrilled to win a gift cert from them. I always have a wish list from that cool place and would put it to wonderful use!!
    Thanks for the opportunity to play along!!
    -Sue

  29. Karen in Breezy Point says:

    Nice interview–I am surprised that there is no “brick and mortar” store because it seems like The Fat Quarter Shop is as cozy and fun as my local quilt shop!

  30. Renee g says:

    I think Moda when I hear Fat Quarter shop too. But, I know they have much more.
    rsgrandinetti@yahoo(dot)com

  31. Gina says:

    My sister sent me the link to FQS and I was hooked. They are the essence of great costomer service and I could order from them every day! What a great interview to share with the fabric loving community.!

  32. Jan in TN says:

    I really enjoyed the interview with the owner of the FQS. It’s nice to get to know a little better who you are dealing with.

  33. Janet says:

    Fat Quarter shop is one of my favorite places to shop. Love how the website functions and the wonderful close-ups of the fabric.

  34. Laura says:

    Thanks for posting the interview with Kimberly. I learned a lot about the FQS that I hadn’t previously known!

  35. Margaret says:

    Loved the interview. Enjoy FQS and all the info they share. Thanks!

  36. Denise says:

    I love their web site and this great giveaway!!
    Thanks!!

  37. Rhonda says:

    I’m relatively new to quilting, but “old” at technology… I was drawn to FQS.com because of their superior website and ease of browsing, “seeing” and buying. I keep coming back because of the great selection of fabric and helpful customer service. This is definitely my favorite online quilt store.

  38. Julia says:

    Thanks for this interview – The Fat Quarter Shop is one of my most favourite place to shop. They’re just awesome! Not only because they have the best website with a fantastic selection of fabrics, clubs, patterns etc. (really, I’ve never seen a better online shop!) but also a fantastic customer service…they don’t treat you like a customer, but like a friend!
    I wish some of the quilt shops in my part of the world would learn from them!

  39. Lisa K says:

    Fat Quarter Shop is hands-down my favorite place to shop online. Their web site is terrific – creative and easy to browse. Keep up the great work Kimberly and company!

  40. Rain Vincent says:

    Proud to know Kim as a quilting friend and so proud of her success! Amazing how she can merge family and work. She is an awesome person!

  41. Carrie P. says:

    What a great blog you have and the list for the places to find vintage fabric, fabulous. Fat Quarter shop,wow,fun blog to read and fun place to shop.

  42. Rene says:

    I have ordered from Fat Quarter Shop only once so far!! It is often difficult to organise shipping and payment to Australia but not this time!! Great service and excellent prices!!

  43. Helen says:

    I am a UK based customer of Fat Quarter Shop and can’t say enough good things about the fabric and the service I receive! I have recommended them to my quilting friends

  44. Judith says:

    I too love FQS and frequently order their products. You newborns are beautiful! Beautiful family picture.

  45. Dionysia says:

    ….it was great to read about the behind the scenes of a family plus extra help, business…
    I enjoy the weekly emails and esp the ” what’s new” and the special kits that are only available from the web

    Austin is a sister city to me city here in Australia… why not have a prize for a usa best comment and one “international” !!
    congrats on the new arrivals,too

  46. monicalee says:

    wow! now you know how many readers you have!

  47. Erin says:

    wowowowow. love this shop. i am a new quilter and slooowly building up my stash. this is a great way to start!

  48. Shelly says:

    I always am checking out Fat Quarters website. Every order I’ve made has showed up in my mail box so quick! Never had a problem. Love all the choices!

  49. Ann Finley says:

    Wow this was an interesting article about Kim. Guess I never thought about what the Fat Quarter Shop was really like. I love the fabric that I can always find here but never thought about how the shop started.

  50. Trish says:

    It was a great article about Kim and her shop. I spend way too much money online there !!