Mad About Patchwork is a longtime sponsor of True Up, and I was happy to get to know owner Pamela better via my Meet the Sponsors series. MAP is one of the few online shops based in Canada. BUT WAIT! Don’t tune out if you live outside of Canada — Pamela carries lots of stuff you won’t find elsewhere, like her awesome kits for some of the most popular modern quilt patterns. And she offers free shipping in North America on orders $100+.
Giveaway time! Pamela is offering a copy of City Quilts by Cherri House to one reader today — just visit the site, have a look around, then come back here and leave a comment about your favorite item(s) you saw there. I’ll draw a winner randomly next Thursday, August 11, around noon Central U.S. time.
Where do you live? What is the textile/crafty scene like there?
I live just outside Ottawa, Ontario in Canada. I moved here 16 years ago and it’s where I first became interested in quilting. Quilting is very popular in the Ottawa Valley, with a number of local quilt shops to choose from. There are also numerous guilds in the region. There are a lot of traditional quilters, although there are definitely some less-traditional types out there too.
How and when did you start selling fabric?
I started thinking about selling fabric online about 4 years ago. Finding Canadian online retailers was difficult, and shipping from the US was sometimes expensive. The shop has been up and running for just over three years, and the response from Canadians has been great.
What surprised you most about the business?
Everything!! I had no background whatsoever in retail, so everything has been a big learning curve for me. And I’m still learning.
Is this your full time job? If not, what else do you do to pay the bills?
It was part-time until last September, when I resigned from a part-time job in a medical office to concentrate on the shop.
How would you characterize your shop?
I have always brought in fabric that appeals to me. Modern, fresh, fun is my tagline and I am always looking for something that people won’t necessarily find in their local quilt shops.
What are your hot sellers right now?
Are you online only, or do you have a brick & mortar shop? If you don’t have one, are you planning to open one?
I am online only, although I do travel to shows two or three times a year. I like meeting customers at the shows, and although I sometimes dream of opening a brick and mortar shop, I like the flexibility I have from working at home. Of course, local customers are always able to stop by with an appointment to shop!
Do you run the shop alone or do you have help?
I run it alone. It’s manageable for now, although my mom is always there to help me out at the shows.
How do you deal with the challenges of the current economy, and increasing competition in the retail fabric business?
There have definitely been some challenges to operating online from Canada with so much competition from US fabric retailers. I try hard to stay as competitive as possible with prices, even if it means not carrying certain manufacturers because the wholesale price in Canada is so much higher. Because I am small, I can offer personalized and prompt customer service. And many of my customers have been thrilled to find a Canadian online source for fabric.
What are the other biggest challenges — and biggest rewards — of being a fabric merchant?
A big challenge for me, particularly since I work from home is keeping everything in balance. I handle everything myself – from buying to marketing to accounting to blogging – and that can be a lot of juggling. I have three awesome teenagers at home, and they definitely help keep me grounded in reality!
The biggest reward is getting to play with all kinds of fun fabric … I try to sew at least a little bit every day, and you can follow my adventures on my blog.
What’s your personal stash like?
True confession – I don’t have much of a stash. I like to pick fabric for the project I’m working on at the moment, and it’s usually something that I’ve got in the shop. Although I did just indulge in some Denyse Schmidt fabric that was only available at Joann’s. I do have overflowing buckets of scraps, with good intentions of using them up, but somehow that never seems to happen.
Who are your favorite designers, from the past and/or from the present?
Valori Wells, Denyse Schmidt, Heather Bailey, Anna Marie Horner, Dena Fishbein, Holly Holderman are just a few. Moda has some terrific designers, and I love some of the young designers for Riley Blake. We are lucky to have so many choices for fabric!
Thank you so much, Pamela!