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. mommymae says:

    so sad i don’t live in austin anymore so i could join in on the crafty love

  2. Joanna says:

    Oh, I love the Fat Quarter shop and would love love love to win the gift certificate!

  3. Lynn M says:

    The Fat Quarter Shop is a must visit (store and blog) everyday. I have to see the “Top Sellers” and “What’s New” as well as following on Twitter. Thanks for the behind the scenes chat with Kim.

  4. Carol says:

    I’ve been a satisfied customer for years – I guess I discovered them when they first opened. Great service and great selection of fabric, but also lots of patterns.

  5. Meredith says:

    I just love the Fat Quarter Shop, and would be in heaven if I won this giveaway. Really enjoyed reading the interview!

  6. Sharon Griffith says:

    One of the best shops on the net…Please add me to the list but how in the world do you decide the winner with all these posts….good luck to everyone.

  7. Patty Ojeda says:

    I love Fat Quarter Shop! The interview was great too!
    Congrats on the twins! Hope you can get some rest!

    Good luck!

  8. karen says:

    Love your great selection! Please enter me in the drawing!

  9. Sue Goodin says:

    I just loved reading this blog. It gave us an insight into what it’s like on the other side of the bolt.

  10. Carrie says:

    Thanks for the chance to win! I could do some damage with that gift.

  11. Ann Dent says:

    I enjoyed reading your “interview” with Kimberly. I’m new to your blog and will be a regular now that I’ve found it.

  12. Penny Ray says:

    It is nice to get to know the people behind the scenes that work so hard. Also, I’m so glad the blog gives us insight into the people that create the fabric we all love!

  13. Penny says:

    It’s so cool to get to “meet” the Jolly family and know a little about where the fabric is coming from when I order from them! Thank-you for posting this Kim!

  14. Reina says:

    I really enjoyed reading all about you! I can’t wait to check out your blog all the time!!!

  15. Joyce says:

    I really enjoyed reading the interview.

  16. Annette says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Fat Quarter Shop. Their shop is SEW easy to navigate, oodles of options and choices. For me – it’s the go to shop to see what’s new. Thank you for the interview. Wishing FQS continued success.

  17. mjb says:

    I like going to Fat Quarter shop to look and see the sets already put together or for pre-cuts.

  18. Darla says:

    Love hearing about how The Fat Quarter shop was started. Wishing them continued success!

  19. Amy Pruden says:

    I love the FQS. They have helped me numerous times when I have been looking for a pattern that my dog chewed up (really!), or a sold out fabric or a up and coming collection. They always answer my calls in a timely manner and are super friendly on the phone. Thanks ladies, it is really appreciated!

  20. Donna says:

    I just started quilting after a long break. I have no stash. This would be a wonderful start.

  21. Callie says:

    The Fat Quarter Shop is my go-to site whenever I need fabric. They always send everything in a lovely package – so nice! It is a treat to order from them. :)

  22. Kirsten Nelson says:

    I love quilting, and I am trying to build up my stash, but with a husband in college and a baby it sure is hard! I go to fat quarter shop and look and drool over everything…my hubby thinks I’m nuts :)

  23. kara says:

    My mother-in-law introduced my to the Fat Quarter Shop and it’s definitely one of my favorite shops to stop by and dream of all that fabric – hopefully I’ll quit working a real job someday and just collect fabric, oh and maybe sew once in a while.

  24. Gwyn says:

    It’s nice to find out about the people behind a favorite website. I was a stay at home mom when it wasn’t in vogue so anyone who can run a great business and have a great family too is A-OK in my book.

  25. Linda Hardy says:

    I agree that the thing that makes FQS so outstanding is the customer service – fast shipping, great presentation of merchandise, and the packaging of their BOMs is first class all the way!

  26. Steve Carr says:

    I have been working on a Fat Quarter Shop block of the month and it is fabulous. But the thing I appreciate most is how beautifully wrapped everything is when you receive it. Those beautiful locking bags with the Fat Quarter Shop sticker on it…I know it costs more to do it this way than to throw it in a bag (which some shops do) but wow…I’m always so thrilled to open my package. Thanks!!

  27. Shelly says:

    Certainly enjoyed your spotlight on True Up!!
    You know what they say…….if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it!!
    Cheers!

  28. Nancy says:

    Enjoyed reading the interview with Kimberly. Please enter my name for the $75 give-a-way. Love the fabric on her site!

  29. carol denning says:

    A very revealing interview, both the excitement and the reality of hard work to have a sucessful shop; thanks for doing it! Your blog is also very informative and enjoyable. I would love to win the gift certificate but a big ” hi” to Jocelyn also!

  30. mary j. b. says:

    Great interview, like hearing how the business has grown. They have a great website and selection. Thanks for including this in your blog.

    AND I love the family photo with “Big Sister Emma” in the middle!

  31. Corey says:

    Great interview! I have bought from FQS frequently and love the fast shipping. I also sent them an email awhile back complimenting them on their packages–their ziplock bags are just so shiny and nice. =) I also enjoyed the Designer Mystery BOM last year. I could def. put this GC to good use!

  32. Mary Souza says:

    Kimberly, FQS has the one of most efficient shipping system and fabulous fabrics I’ve ever known!
    Thanks

  33. Jennifer says:

    Great interview. Just discovered FQS and can’t wait to start ordering!

  34. jen says:

    I LOVE Fat Quarter Shop! Thanks for the oppurtunity.

  35. Bethany says:

    Fat Quarter Shop carries such a wonderful selection of fabric. I’d love the chance to buy some!

  36. janet says:

    I just got some cute poky little puppy fabric from FQS!

  37. Ching says:

    I love Fat Quarter Shop . They have best service.
    Great interview. And happy for Kimberly’s twin.

  38. Jennifer says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop! I haven’t purchased fabric in such a long time due to a big money crunch at home so I would LOVE a gift certificate to this fabulous store.
    Congrats to Kim on her lovely twins!

  39. mamamagoo says:

    Been shopping at the FQS for years and plan to do so for many more… much to my husband’s dismay of course. So a G/C for free fabric would go a long way to smoothing out marital discord… LOL!!!

  40. kathy says:

    wow. that would be such an awesome prize! thanks for the interview. and thanks to the Fat Quarter Shop for the chance to win.

  41. Nicole says:

    What a great interview. Thanks for the chance to win some goodies!!

  42. Cinddy Whitford says:

    I love the Fat Quarter Shop website, blog and newsletter. I check back often and have given many friends links to you! I especially love your christmas section and all of the Moda fabrics! Cindy

  43. Jen says:

    You are soooo lucky to be around such great fabric all the time!

  44. Great to read about Kimberley. I always keep an eye on the What’s New section in the Fat Quarter Shop.

  45. Holly says:

    Congratulations on your growing family and growing business! Busy, but exciting times I’m sure.

  46. Laura says:

    Great interview. Thank you for sharing. I love your shop. Laura

  47. Karen says:

    FQS is my very favorite online quilt store.

  48. Ammie says:

    Thanks for introducing me to the Jolly Jabber blog. It is so cute! I love the pictures, the projects, and the giveaways!

  49. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for introducing me to the 3 Sisters line – I hadn’t seen it before.

    Love the shop!

  50. Maria says:

    Thanks for taking the time to interview Kimberly. I’ve been a customer for a long time, but it’s fun to read about the history of Fat Quarter Shop!