This is a follow up story for The Fabric Loft. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hello, My name is Chantelle Taylor and I am the co-owner of The Fabric Loft. My mother-in-law, Brenda McArthur, knew someone who knew someone selling an online fabric shop in 2021 and she jumped on the opportunity.
From day one she asked that I help her with the zoom meetings and figuring out Shopify. It wasn’t long until we realized there was a role for me in a bigger way with The Fabric Loft. I have since left my corporate job and shared my time between the Fabric Loft and doing payroll/management duties for my husband's Crane Business.
We were excited when we started The Fabric Loft as we also purchased the subscription base, we had 75 subscribers at that time and we couldn’t wait to send out our first orders. We were in the middle of the pandemic and we quickly realized we had to get smarter and order ahead to receive fabric on time. The first two months were rocky and we didn’t get the product out as fast as we wanted… we have since changed our methods and have 5 supplies of who we order from and have a lot of fabric options to offer.
Our subscription base is growing and we love that we have added to our product lineup and now offer 6 full-time subscriptions, which are so easy to start and easy to cancel if something changes and you need a break. We also have a few gift subscription options that have been amazing, we have already seen so many repeat customers. Nothing like getting your favorite sewist a fabric subscription for 3-6 months as a birthday gift!
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
I can’t speak to how the business was with the previous owner, but we have seen some nice growth. We did rebrand to give ourselves a fresh face and also to have the name resonate with us. Milestones we have had to overcome are shipping costs, and getting cotton products since 2020 changed all that. We have beefed up our social presence and are continuing to get better and better at that every day.
Another big hurdle for us in 2021 was learning Shopify, and figuring out a system we weren’t familiar with. I am pretty computer literate so I was able to get Shopify sorted out quickly, our subscription service took me a little bit longer to understand. Originally there were fewer subscription options than we offer now, so adding new ones and making sure everything ran smoothly every month was a lot to initially grow into.
Both Brenda and I have a role within the business. Brenda is focused on the subscriptions, so her role is to make sure that the fabric is cut, ready, and then packaged and shipped within the first few days of the month. I oversee the fabric orders, receiving fabric, storing the cotton, managing social media as well as emails, inquiries, and arranging new suppliers and considering new products. I am also in charge of the financial side, so making sure at the end of the day we are covering our costs and keeping ourselves happy and our customers happier.
Shopify has an ever-changing system, so we are very focused on making sure we offer every payment method, as well as every platform so that we reach everyone looking for our product.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
Shipping is the biggest hurdle. We have tried many ways to see what works best and at this point, we are sticking with flat rate shipping. We have looked at outsourcing the shipping and that was more than we currently pay with Canada Post. We even called every possible option such as Purolator and UPS to see if there was something we were missing but it just comes down to shipping is expensive. We’ve had to make changes to adjust and not overwhelm our customers at checkout.
Product shortages were also a bit of an issue but appear to be resolved. We do get emails frequently that fabric is delayed, and we are currently waiting on our Christmas 2022 fabric and it’s already 2 months late. It causes challenges, the biggest positive I can make of it is that when we do have the fabric we will ship it as fast as possible to ensure everyone has their projects ready for the big day.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Lessons we have learned along the way have helped us to decide our direction. At one point Brenda was very passionate about doing markets and tradeshows but we quickly learned that the cost of said booths was a lot in comparison to customers.
It’s hard to be an entrepreneur and it’s okay to ask for help.
We couldn’t gauge how many people to expect and it came down to changing our focus. We have also had to figure out new ways to market, and how to share the product so that we stand out, which was a big part of why we decided to rebrand. We didn’t want to be missed, so we have FABRIC the biggest part of our brand.
A few other lessons learned along the way is that you can’t please everyone. Our subscriptions are a surprise. You know you will get premium cotton fabric, you know you will get the brand name and you know how much you will receive but the rest is a mystery and that isn’t for everyone. We have had to learn that it’s okay to not be for everyone and it's a big learning curve to not take that personally.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
By September I will be working on the Fabric Loft business more as my corporate job will be over at that point. I foresee us taking the fabric business to new levels and having an impact on Youtube, TikTok, and Instagram in a bigger way.
My goal for 2023 is to grow the subscription base, that part of our business model makes the most sense and we can plan for it in advance. It’s fun to surprise our subscribers every month with new and amazing collections.
We will also be introducing a new subscription in 2023. We don’t have all the details yet this subscription will be a Block of the Month style product.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
I love podcasts and audiobooks, as a mom of 3 (7,5,2) I find it easier to consume information in an audio form.
I love listening to Mel Robbins (I’ve personally suffered anxiety since early 2020 and she also had anxiety so it’s so relatable to me).
I have a few other businesses - moms on IG that I follow who give me so many great ideas that help me to be creative and get out of my head.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
It’s hard to be an entrepreneur and it’s okay to ask for help. I have three little and it takes a village to make this happen. As a working mom, I find it impossible to complete tasks fully when my kids are around. I do have my older children in school and my youngest goes to a day home. Without having these people helping out and being an option for our family I’m not sure I would be able to work or keep the business afloat.
A few years back I didn’t know how to ask for help and I’ve grown along the way to figure out it's the only way.
Where can we go to learn more?
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The Fabric Loft has provided an update on their business!
Over 2 years ago, we followed up with The Fabric Loft to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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