Our first fabric show. Quilt Market May 2018
I had been afraid to try it. I had always said that I wanted to be a fabric designer. Now I had 14 designs under my belt and was nervous to really put them out there in the world. I have become comfortable with having my products in stores, but to actually stand in front of fabric store buyers and owners seemed really scary… I made myself sign up for the show (it was in Portland where I could stay with family (see photo below). how bad could it be?
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!
I signed up for a booth in the Quilt Show, a fabric tradeshow which I attended for years as a buyer for years while making reversible children’s playwear. I faced my fear of showing up in front of quilters, fabri-holics, and the reps I used to buy from. It turned out, they loved my fabric, raved about it, brought their friends, and bought over 1200 yds of it in 3 short days! I had found my people.
So when I got to Portland, I showed up at the blank spot which was my booth in the very back of the hall surrounded by a weird configuration of pipes and drapes, creating boxes around a huge pillar. I stood for a moment feeling overwhelmed, but soon snapped into action. What if I just took all that mess down and opened it up all around me creating more space and visibility (even if it was only to the last aisle of the hall)? Down came the drapes. I grabbed an adjoining table, threw on tablecloths, and now had a plethora of surfaces and display opportunities. I hung all the tablecloths, stuffed and puffed bags and products, creating an inviting showroom.
HOW TO SELL TO THIS CROWD?
I had a display cubicle in the lobby of the building and stuck my cute husband out there next to it wearing an apron that said “Touch ME”. He was a buyers’ magnet!
I had a whole stream of women coming into my booth for days asking to see David. I would ask them what was wrong with me and they would titter and make an order.
I had learning to do. I am selling something into the fabric stores now that is different than what they are used to. First, it’s 58” wide, not the usual 45”. Next, it’s coated. But it’s so soft! Feel it! And the wheels start turning… What can I make with it??
Now I had an idea. I had to show them. Stores were interested in my products too. I could sell them the fabric, and samples of my products to show folks what to make out of it. All I had to do is make sewing patterns, right? How do I do that? All kinds of folks were circulating the show. Pretty soon I had cards from pattern designers, online sales platforms, distributors, and interested parties of all kinds. Many folks wanted scraps to play with. Could they quilt with them? What else could they make?
Mary Mulari (shown here with David Krauter) took my scraps and made some adorable ditty bags.
She has gotten the attention of Gutterman Treads, Schmetz Needles and now Threads Magazine for me. She teaches classes all over the country and will introduce new stitchers to my fabric… I feel the love!
I even had visits from a couple of new reps and one I used to buy from and she is now carrying my line. She has gotten us into one Ben Franklin store of all things! I am always so delighted with the places my reps visit and I love thinking about the end users and how they will delight in using my fabric in their projects.
David enjoyed noticing how “well dressed” our customers were. Not dressed up, but with interesting colors and coordinated accessories. Of course! As I always say:
It’s all about the the fabric!
And color, duh.
Bottom line: Go for your dreams. You and they are worth it!