I thought this might be fun to start and admittedly I love reading Tasia’s posts on her burgeoning business every month. I’ve always found posts like these interesting because I really do want to know what its like to own a small business and make ends meet with it. So now that I’m adding a new perspective to the table – owning a brick and mortar fabric store – I thought you all might want to know more about what goes on and how things are run here at A Fashionable Stitch.
I like to think of our little shop as a fabric boutique because, yes it’s small. We are not a Hancock or Joann and honestly, that’s good because these chain stores do have their place and they do provide things that we really don’t have the room to provide. For instance, we don’t sell buttons currently. After a lot of thought about this too, I don’t know that we will sell buttons because buttons can take up quite a bit of room and eat up quite a bit of capital. And our shop’s physical location is right in between a Hancock and a Joann, so we have to have a different focus when it comes to what we are going to sell. We rent a location that was once a little house. The property has been commercialized and we have our own parking lot and such. The upstairs area is dedicated to the retail space while the basement is dedicated to the classroom (which we’re in the process of revamping) and the online shop storage area.
Owning a business is kind of like owning a house, especially in respect to the maintenance of the building. It’s been snowing quite a bit this December and sheesh! I have to keep on top of shoveling and having ice melt on hand so that people don’t fall and break their neck! Yup, as a business owner you have to worry about these things. Just one more hat to wear!
Keeping afloat in December
I’ve noticed this trend with my online shop as well as with a brick and mortar. Also my dad was self employed growing up too (lawyer) and it was murder! December is the worst month of the year as far as revenue goes. I would be totally lying if I didn’t say that I was a bit disheartened this past month as this was my first month as a brick and mortar shop owner and seeing the bills that need to be paid and the money that’s come in is quite tight. I think it really comes down to the idea of gifts during December. And this involves changing your entire idea about merchandising for a month or so (probably starting in November really) and you have to start thinking in terms of, “Well, if I were a spouse/significant other looking to give a gift to my sweetheart, then I need something shiny and all put together.” These are things that definitely need to be re-considered and brainstormed for next year, but I will say that we have some really exciting things planned for next year. Now, off to write them down and put in a place that will not be forgotten!
Buying fabric for a shop
Probably the number one question I receive about my online shop is, “Where do you find all these notions and supplies you have here?” Sometimes I don’t know if people really want to know or if its just a passing question, but I will say that finding suppliers/sources is hard work. Oh. My. Goodness. Part of buying a fabric store is buying the suppliers list. People do not share this information. They protect it with their lives! So I am glad to have a suppliers list to start with. I’m also growing my own list and its been interesting. I have to keep on top of the needs and wants of the shop. I want so many different options for the shop and yet, there are needs that have to be maintained like having a selection of bridal fabrics and laces (we have a lot of weddings here in Utah year round!) and things like cotton batiste and specific colors of silk shantung and dupioni all have to be in stock and ready for purchase. Then there is a growing list of wants. I want all these different types of fabrics and what’s worse is to be perfectly candid, I could care less about wedding dress fabrics! Ha! So I become torn by things that I want and things that I have to have. Sometimes its definitely about selling items that you don’t care to sell. Strange, but interesting.
Out with the old, in with the new
One of the main focuses of December for the shop has been getting rid of the merchandise that’s not selling. You have to be creative when you are up against things that don’t sell. My mother instilled in me the idea that much in life is about presentation. And to be honest, this is sooooo true. Sometimes when items aren’t presented well they don’t sell – so true in so many facets of life! I’ll give you a few examples. With the purchase of this shop came the acquisition of what seems like 5 billion really old trims and ribbons. I had worked at Yellow Bird Fabrics for over a year and had never seen these trims move. Ever. The trims aren’t necessarily bad, they are just rather project specific and as such they rarely get bought. One of the first things I did when I took over was to go through all the trims and fish out all the ones that really needed to move and hadn’t. Cut those up, put them in 3 yard bundles with a few other colors of ribbon and Voila! Instant color and cuteness by the register. And they are usable! They aren’t just junk. They can be used in clothing or as gift wrapping ribbons and trims.
We also decided to get some fabric moving too by cutting several of the bolts into remnants. One of my ladies said that she used to work at a fabric store that had a marvelous remnant rack and it’s something that we’ll be utilizing too. The majority of the remnants are at least 2 yards, so they work well to actually make something out of. No 1/2 yard or 1/4 yard remnants here!
Additionally, we had a roll of rayon that had not sold a single yard. Such a pretty rayon too – great for a dress. But it was cream colored and well, boring. I dyed the yardage (with good quality dye, mind you) into two different colorways. The end result was really cool actually as the zig-zag stitching took the dye more than the rest of the fabric. Again, just a presentation/vision thing really, but it makes a big difference in seeing the potential in something that you hadn’t considered before.
I think that’s it for December’s Behind the Scenes. Gosh, I can’t believe December is already gone! I’ll admit, this has been hard. I’ve been very much consumed by this whole entrepreneur thing (as I should be, I think) and that’s been both good and bad. I sewed but a very little bit in the last part of December and that’s something that has to change. I love sewing and I don’t want to just give it up because I’m a shop owner. So I’ve actually been sewing quite a bit in January. Almost finished with a jacket (which I started January 1st)! Yay! Priorities have to be set. If you never make time to work on the things that you enjoy, you never will. I could work on the shop all the time everyday, but its not what I want to do all the time. So setting limits and parameters is very important. I’m learning that bit by bit.
Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying a day off – I know I am – and that you have time to do a little reflecting and a little looking forward. I suppose not too much of this though because if there is one thing I’ve learned over the years its that I take myself much to seriously and well, there’s an art to being able to let things go and let things happen the way they are going to happen to a certain extent. Anyhow, or anyway, here’s to the good and bad from 2013 and a cheer for the good and bad yet to come. Hip Hip Hooray!
All my best for you and yours,Sunni
Friends, thank you for your patience as I’ve been getting used to my new role as retail shop owner. I really really hope you all had a wonderful 2013 holiday (whatever holiday that might be for you), with another just around the bend. Here’s to a shiny New Year, eh?! Since posting about my recent acquisition of a physical retail shop, I thought it might be a good idea to answer several questions I’ve received about it. The thing is, I have it all figured out in my head and I just think that you do too when you would have to be a mind reader to know all the details and how its all worked out. I’m sure (so sure) this will be a work in progress. I’m actually still concerned about how the online presence of everything is going to jive with the physical presence, but we’re coming to new and exciting decisions about that too. So here we go:
Who are you?
I’m just a gal with a serious sewing obsession. It’s turned into quite the adventure because not only do I own an online shop, but now I’ve gone and purchased myself a brick and mortar shop too. Yikes!
You have a shop? Where’s it located?
I’m a Salt Lake City, Utah local, so if you’re purchasing from me online, this is where its all shipped from (this, if you’re unaware is in the U.S.). Now I also own a brick and mortar in Salt Lake City, Utah too. It’s also called A Fashionable Stitch. Here is our physical address:
A Fashionable Stitch
988 East 3300 South
Salt Lake City, Utah
(801) 466-3110 (tele)
Wait. Didn’t you buy Yellow Bird Fabrics?
Yes, yes I did. But I decided to change the name to be under my A Fashionable Stitch umbrella. We still share the same vision as Yellow Bird Fabrics just different names and owners is all.
So, what kind of fabric do you sell?
We specialize in fine apparel fabric. Wools, cottons, silks, linens and a full assortment of bridal and evening wear fabrics too. We have a full assortment of linings, notions, trims, supplies and tools too, especially for the garment sewer, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do other types of sewing with our wares too. You can definitely quilt or piece using our fabrics and even home decorate with them too. They are beautiful for a myriad of uses.
Are you going to close your online store then?
No. The online store will be staying open because, you know, it’s important to me. I’m an online guru – a bloggy tech (nically challenged) sewing gal and I love my online customers much too much to give it up.
Are you going to sell fabric online too?
Actually, yes! Ha ha! It’s a bit of a slow process, but I’ve already gotten started with some pretty lovely wool knits, silk prints and a couple of knits with kidswear in mind (though you wouldn’t have to use them for kids per se).
What brands of independent sewing patterns do you stock? Do you sell them online?
Well, just so you know, we don’t sell any of the Big 4 patterns in store just yet. We have ideas for selling some of our favorite sewing patterns in store though, so if you’re a Salt Lake City local, definitely sign up for the local newsletter because we send out a couple of newsletters every week to keep you informed of what’s new in the physical shop. As for the independent pattern companies, we are currently selling Colette and Sewaholic and we have plans to bring in several more as well. Plus we’ve decided to start selling a few children’s patterns and fabrics too and I’ve got some Figgy’s on the way and I’m looking into a few more children’s patterns too. Then there’s the matter of this unbelievable rainbow stripe cotton velour that we just got in (which is also online, right now). I only wish I had kids so I could make them a pair of leggings or a hoodie or something out of it. To die for cute, right? At this time, I’m not selling patterns in my online shop, but in the not so distant future, this will change.
How do I contact you?
You can email me at email@example.com. If you’re interested in contacting the physical store, look for the address above and the telephone number to the retail store is (801) 466-3110.
I’ve been subscribed to your newsletter and you never send me anything? What’s the deal?
For quite some time, I’ve not known what to do about the newsletter. However, now that I have a physical shop, I’ve had a lot more practice about what I feel a newsletter should be. You should know that there are now 2 newsletter groups that I send emails to. One is dedicated to my online shop (probably the one you’re signed up for and don’t receive anything about, but you will soon) and one is dedicated to the physical store. You can sign up for the newsletters here. There’s much more on the horizon for the newsletters too. Oh the fun we’ll have!
When are you going to start teaching classes again?
Sigh…. Honestly folks, I am soooooo busy right now, I just don’t know that teaching classes is in the cards for me anymore. Plus there’s this part where I actually still want to sew stuff and that hasn’t been happening very much lately. But, I’ve got something else up my sleeve that I think will work out a little better anyway. Hold the phone though! This doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to hold classes at A Fashionable Stitch. In fact, I’m in the process of getting a few new teachers on board so that we can get some new classes going soon. Most likely February 2014.
I think that does it for now. Have any more questions? If you do, be sure to leave them in the comments and I’ll update this post with your new questions. Again, I would like to thank all of you, my dear readers, for your support and encouragement. Means so much! Not just to me, but also to my mister and my staff! If you’re ever in Utah, please don’t hesitate to stop by the physical shop location or even contact me for a meet-up to talk sewing! I’m pretty nice, I think (OK, I’m actually a serious pushover, so I’m totally nice). Here’s to all things A Fashionable Stitch! Yay!
I’d totally be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m soooooooo tired right now. It’s been a whirlwind of prepping, cleaning, buying, paying, needing this, wanting that, ordering, transferring ownership of certain things like bills, shoveling snow, working, selling, and well the list goes on and on. Wow. Guys (gals) owning and running a real life shop is hard work. I haven’t been sleeping well either because I’ve been so excited and jittery and stressed out about all of it. That’s what my stress does to me – I don’t sleep and I don’t eat. Ha ha. More like I just forget to eat and the butterflies in the stomach fill me to a point of not even wanting to eat. Weird.
I’d totally be lying if I didn’t tell you that its pretty fun though. I mean, yeah, its hard work, but its fun. Just proves that hard work can be fun. And quite satisfying. And it leads to more and more ideas and creativity and wow. I’m so inspired by so many things right now, I feel like I could explode. The fact that I’m way too tired to follow through on all these ideas hardly matters. Ha ha ha!
So what can I tell you? Last week was my first full week as a brick and mortar entrepreneur. Did I make a million dollars? No. I have to say that I’ve done a lot of prepping for this venture and now I feel like I’m finally ready to just start helping people find the fabric they want and need and well, selling my wares. Admittedly, getting the word out is probably one of the harder parts of owning a business. I know this from my online adventures. And then of course there’s the bills and there’s the scheming for what’s next and there’s a lot of people giving you advice and pulling you in all sorts of fun new directions and then there comes a time when you have to finally find your own voice and start doing what you know you feel in your gut to be right. It’s so crazy. Today is that first day where I’m beginning to feel that calm after the storm. You know, where you exhale and think, I’m ready.
I’m baring a bit of my shop owner’s soul to you and though it might not make any sense whatsoever, I’m ready. I’m actually ready to start sewing again – haven’t touched my machine in weeks. And there’s a little something something on the horizon where I’ll need something like a whole wardrobe of new things. Yikes! But exciting. Guess I’ll not want for fabric, right? Anyway, just wanted to pop in and say, I’m back baby! We’re ready to roll again. For those of you who’ve emailed me – I’m slowly getting back on top of that. All orders from the online sale have all gone out. Whewwww! The online shop is back up and running too. If you live in the Salt Lake City, Utah area – HOP IN to A Fashionable Stitch (988 East 3300 South, SLC). I’d love to see your bright little face.
Thanks everyone for your incredibly encouraging words from my last post. I’m definitely a little anxious about what this new venture holds, but your words meant the world to me and really gave me hope that I can do this. Thanks. I totally needed that. Now, off to cut out a Papercut Ensis Tee in some pretty lovely wool double knit from les shop. And what about you? What’s on your sewing table?
You guys, I’ve got some really really big news. My apologies for my absence here. I feel like I’ve been running around with my head cut off and to be honest, my head is still spinning (on my finger no less). I taunted you in my last post with this news, just a little. As crazy luck would have it, the owner of the fabric store that I work and teach at (Yellow Bird Fabrics) decided to sell. It was a big decision and one that was made because of circumstance – nothing bad or life threatening though, which is good. She asked if I wanted to buy. I know, I know. This is the CRAZY part! And after some serious fretting and sweating and thinking and inner turmoil and “should I really do this?” type stuff, I decided to dive in, head first. And now A Fashionable Stitch enters a new phase. We are a bona fide brick and mortar shop! Yeah. You could say I’m walking on air right about now.
I never thought I would actually own a fabric store. In fact, I played around with the idea for awhile and thought, um no. Then after being approached with the opportunity to buy, I felt different. I really wanted it. There are so many things that appeal to me about having a brick and mortar shop. The personal contact with customers. Having parties (oh yes, there will be parties!). Educating people in person. Feeling fabric in person. Seeing fabric in person. Decorating. Scheming about how to package things – I love packaging! There is TONS to do and I already feel like I’ve done a ton and that a ton has been done by Amy, who went before me. She’s given me a legacy, seriously and its wonderful. You guys, I own a fabric store! Isn’t that just the craziest?
So what does this mean? It means that me and my mister will be quite a bit busier, but all for something that we both love – Mr. S totally digs that I’m into fabric and I totally dig fabric, so we’re definitely going to have a lot of fun. I’ve got a really fine group of ladies working for me – I am so lucky! You’ll be hearing so much more about them in the days to come. They all have really fabulous ideas and many of those are going to be popping up here on the blog. I’m pretty sure you’re going to get a handful of behind the scenes here at AFS headquarters (and now we actually have a real headquarters!). There is so much to do and I want you all to be apart of it, if only through the interwebs. The online store will be expanding to include more notions and a select amount of fabrics. And I’ll also continue to blog, of course – a passion I’m much too loathe to give up.
There’s much more to say, but I’ll save some things for future posts. You’ll be hearing about the shop a lot. Sheesh. It’s so exciting. Oh. my. goodness. I’m pinching myself even now…
And because we have some serious celebrating to do right now and because its Black Friday – the online shop is having a sale. Right now. I’ve tried to stock up on everything, so clean me out, would ya? Save 25% on your total purchase today and tomorrow, when you enter THANKS2013 at the discount code section during checkout. While supplies last. Can’t be combined with any other offer. Here’s to something brave and new. Thanks everyone!