Meet the Sponsors: Drygoods Design

This week’s Meet the Sponsors interview is with the lovely Keli, owner of the new shop Drygoods Design. I think you’ll love the beautiful, inviting design of her shop — everything is well organized and a cinch to browse, and I love the chalkboard backgrounds and the typography. And, boy, does she have a knack for curating fabrics. Below is the assemblage of yellow and grey fabrics currently on her front page — it makes me look at some of these prints differently than I had before ( = want!).

Keli is offering a $75 gift certificate for one lucky reader today. Just visit the site and name your favorite collection or print. Leave a comment here about it, and I’ll draw a winner randomly next Wednesday, August 24, around 11am Central U.S.

See the end of the post for a special coupon code and more good deals from Drygoods Design.

Where do you live? What is the textile/crafty scene like there?

Originally from Oregon, I live in Seattle, WA and it definitely feels like there’s a craft-centric community in the Pacific NW. The Drygoods Design “headquarters” are lucky to be in Ballard, a vibrant neighborhood within Seattle that’s heavy on local and handmade. I am really looking forward to the Schoolhouse Craft Conference in September, which I think will be a great representation of what’s going on here. As for textiles, we have the typical larger retailers such as Jo-Ann’s and then just a few smaller shops, which can be hit and miss on the more contemporary and modern selections.

How and when did you start selling fabric?

The site launched in mid-May, just a month before I welcomed my second child. After teaching myself to sew about four years ago, I developed an unstoppable love for fabric. Sewing was, and is, a way for me to evolve my love for design and pattern. One thing led to another and I was making custom orders for friends and now a couple of shops in Seattle carry my handmade goods in addition to my Etsy shop. At the end of last year, I decided to put a site together so I could be surrounded by beautiful fabric, connect with people and hopefully offer a unique online experience for the recreational sewer/crafter, both beginner and experienced alike. That idea finally came to fruition in May.

How did you come up with your name?

I wanted a brand that could span several years, not knowing where my business would take me. I have long loved the term “drygoods” and feel fabric falls into that and conjures up the idea of when people would go to the general store to buy fabric to make their clothes. Or maybe I just watched too much Little House on the Prairie when I was little :) . Drygoods Design has been in place since 2007 and then Bread & Salt came to life as my handmade goods line from Eastern European culture where people often offer bread and salt as a welcome gift to new neighbors. I believe that that’s root of all gift giving – welcoming someone to their new role in life – be it a year older, a new house, new baby, etc. I hope customers can find something they too love or be inspired to make something on their own.

What surprised you most about the business?

So many things but I think the standout is the sheer magnitude of creativity in the online sewing/craft/design community. There’s so many talented people, both designers and customers/crafters. I have a hard time editing down my fabric selections since there’s so much out there and if I could, I’d have even more inventory. I also have so many projects I want to do but can never find the time in between managing the shop and my own retail endeavors. The folks that are constantly creating are such an inspiration and one day, I hope to one day catch up on my Google Reader feed and all the starred Twitter posts I’ve bookmarked.

Is this your full time job? If not, what else do you do to pay the bills?

Right now it is since I am on maternity leave from my part-time contract job. Typically you’d find me doing communications and marketing for a global technology company based here in the Puget Sound.

How would you characterize your shop?

Modern, fun, edited and hopefully, refreshing and inspiring.

What are your hot sellers right now?

Anything geometric – the Premier Prints chevron print, especially in ash/white, is hard to keep in stock. Also hot right now is Children at Play by Sarah Jane, Miscellany by Julia Rothman (on my personal wish list), Anna Maria Horner’s Loulouthi and Heirloom by Joel Dewberry.

Are you online only, or do you have a brick & mortar shop?

Online only for now but Seattle folks can always visit my studio and pick up there. I would love to eventually do a brick and mortar concept.

Do you run the shop alone or do you have help?

All by myself, unless you count my newborn who is always with me these days, which is great but also can be a challenge. However, I think there are so many mom/small business owners that we’re creating a whole new generation and approach to running a business while still having some semblance of a life :) .

How do you deal with the challenges of the current economy, and increasing competition in the retail fabric business?

As a longtime online fabric consumer, I’ve always known what I am looking for and how much I need, which can make me the best customer or the most critical. As a shop owner, I know I can’t BE everything for everyone so instead of chasing trends or competing with all the online fabric sites, I try to keep focused on why I am here, which is a genuine love for fabric and sewing, sharing ideas and connecting with people. It’s a slow road but I am enjoying every minute of hard work it takes and getting to know those in the industry. Speaking of which, I am really hoping to make it the Fall Quilt Market!

What are the (other!) biggest challenges — and biggest rewards — of being a fabric merchant?

One of the biggest day-to-day challenges is keeping things fresh and new while maintaining a decent amount of regular posts, either on the blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest without bothering folks. When it comes to cutting orders, I love it – there’s something so therapeutic about unrolling, cutting and folding fabric, except for the manufacturers that can’t seem to line up their selvage edges :) . Often I imagine what it will become for someone.

As for the biggest reward, it’s hands down connecting with my customers. I love getting to see pictures of their projects, help find the fabric they need, answer questions and resolving any issues that might come up.

What’s your personal stash like?

Probably a little out of control. When I moved into an office my husband was shocked by the amount of fabric I literally had stashed in the house :) . It runs the gamut from five year old japanese imports to older midweight lines from Heather Ross, Liberty of London (wish I had more) and Alexander Henry to newer home decor fabrics, such as DwellStudio and Kokka oilcloth. I have tons of scraps calling out to be used.

Who are your favorite designers, from the past and/or from the present?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say Amy Butler was definitely a part of my early sewing projects. I think most people would agree that she was integral in how the quilting fabric industry has shifted to a designer-based model in the past several years, which I think, overall, is a great thing. Sites like Spoonflower are a wonderful resource for seeing new and fresh designs as well. It’s self-publishing as its finest. As for designers, there are so many whose collections I covet but I love me some Melody Miller, Sarah Jane, Estuko Furaya, Anna Maria Horner, Jennifer Paganelli, and Lizzy House (super excited for Outfoxed), to name a few. I could go on and on about my favorites but will stop there.

Thank you so much, Keli!

Special Coupon Code! Get 15% off your order, now through next Wednesday, Aug. 24, with code TRUEUP15. Cannot be combined with other coupons. Join Drygoods Design mailing list to get news of new arrivals and special offers regularly — and subscribers are eligible for the Drygoods10 Rewards Program. In this program you receive $10 towards a future purchase for every $100 you spend in the shop. If you spend $500 within a calendar year, you’ll get a bonus $25 credit! More info here.

160 Comments

  1. Jen says:

    Oh, I love the Miscellany collection!

  2. Liz Mouse says:

    I’m waiting for Secret Garden, but if I had money to burn now I’d buy up some Patty Young Grand Bazaar!

  3. Alician says:

    I love Joel Dewberry’s heirloom collection. It’s fab!

  4. Kallie says:

    Loving the petticote turquoise!

  5. Laura W. says:

    I LOVE the Storyboek collection! Thanks for the great giveaway :)

  6. karen says:

    I am completely in love with that grey and yellow set – especially those chevrons! My how lovely they all are together. And I am so excited to learn about a shop right in my own backyard. How awesome is that?

  7. Jill says:

    I have to say that I’m in love with that citron and grey FQ bundle, I also love the storyboek line. Great giveaway!

  8. Meg in CT says:

    Yeah, group me in with the fans of the gray and citron bundle. Holy yum! And I have to say I’m crushing pretty hard on Heirloom right now, too.

  9. MarciaW says:

    Heirloom by Joel Dewberry though Miscellany and LouLouThi are sweet too… I also like the colorstory of grey and citron from MM.

  10. jenn hill says:

    I am in love with the citron and grey fat quarter bundle!