I thought I would do an interview with Linda so that if you've never shopped at Emma One Sock or didn't know the proprietor behind this online fabric shop you would get to know her a little better.
1. I've been purchasing fabric from your online store for years now. For those who are just becoming acquainted with EmmaOneSock would you please share the story of how Emma One Sock came to be?
That's a long story! Yes we were one of the first online fabric stores, having started out about 17 years ago. To make a long story a bit shorter...my college training was in music (piano performance and music theory, back in the dark ages, ha ha) and after a career as a musician throughout my 20's I finally settled down and got married (to Eric!) in my early 30's. I have always enjoyed making things, and taught myself to sew, knit, crochet, etc. when I was in high school. When my kids were born (they are now in their mid to late 20's) I was inspired to make them little hand knit sweaters and sewn outfits. This quickly developed into a children's clothing line that was sold all over the US (Emma One Sock, named for my daughter Emma and my son Aaron, whose nickname as a baby was "one sock"). It was all produced locally with upscale European fabrics. After six years and lots of growth, I decided to close that business (it was quite exhausting), and had lots of beautiful fabrics left over. We began selling off those fabrics on eBay, but when we realized that there was a potentially huge market for the fabrics to which I had access, we developed our own website (thankfully Eric is a computer programmer) and over time it grew into a thriving business. I couldn't bear to change the name so we are still known as Emma One Sock!
2. What do you love most about running an online fabric store?
Well, I do love fabric, obviously!... so being blessed with immediate access to so many wonderful fabrics is something that continues to excite me. I also very much enjoy the challenge of running a business, and striving for perfection. Our business is almost like a huge art project that Eric and I are constantly tweaking. We are very old school ~ we both have a rather entrepreneurial spirit. There was nothing else out there when we started, no instant website programs that now make it easy for anyone with an idea to start an online business. Our website was designed from scratch and continues to be our unique creation, complete with an internal management, messaging and inventory system, etc. etc, (all thanks to Eric).
3. What is the most important thing you've learned from running an online fabric store?
Not sure I can narrow it down to one thing. People still want the experience that they used to get in brick and mortar stores, so we do our best to provide an online experience that is clear, visually pleasing and detailed, and we send out hundreds of swatches (for free) every week so that people can handle the fabrics. People definitely appreciate great customer service and fair prices. With any business, greed can destroy a company ~ we've always aimed for slow and steady growth and so far it has worked out well for us.
4. What is a typical day like?
We start out early here! I'm usually at my desk by 7 AM at the latest, and our wonderful staff starts arriving shortly thereafter. They cut and ship orders, check in new shipments, fill swatch requests, handle customer questions, and when they can come up for air they straighten up and post lots of roll ends.
Brenden, Monica and Anita
I do a mix of posting new fabrics, updating the website, ordering fabric, handling customer emails, etc. Just recently Monica has taken over the photography, and that has been a big help to me! We are in the process of updating our photgraphy set up ~ just got a new camera and lighting. We're also looking into some other ways to improve the photos on the website, as well as other website functions. Eric does all of the website upkeep and programming, billing, ordering of supplies, etc. We have a small studio and everyone gets along well considering the tight quarters!
5. Is it important to offer international as well as domestic shipping?
Yes, we have hundreds of international customers, repeat customers ~ it's a huge part of our business, and we are very grateful for their loyal patronage! We do our best to find the best shipping rates and our international customers seem to appreciate our efforts.
6. Why has online fabric shopping become such an important experience to sewists?
Like everything else, the convenience of ordering online has unfortunately put a lot of brick and mortars out of business, so in many cases people have no choice but to get used to ordering online. Some others enjoy having a curated choice ~ anyone can find an online fabric store that suits their taste these days, without having to leave their home! It seems pretty clear that our lives have moved online in every respect. There are many fine online fabric stores out there; people find their favorites and learn who they can trust.
7. How has social media changed the day to day running of an online fabric store?
It hasn't really changed anything for us in terms of day to day, although I did notice a boost in sales when I started an Instagram account this past January. As I said, we've been around a looooong time, and we keep running our business the way we always have; our customers seem to appreciate it. I do keep up with Instagram and Facebook, and enjoy figuring out new things to post each day. But I have to keep from getting totally distracted by my iPad, posting photos and checking everyone else's! It can be a huge time eater, and I try hard to keep it under control so that I can get my work done! :-D
8. What are your hopes/goals for the future of Emmaonesock?
Well, I hope we continue to grow and flourish! Eric and I are in our (early) 60's, and while we are still going strong at this point, we are thinking ahead and giving our staff more and more responsibility. The fabric world has changed dramatically over the years. There are probably hundreds of online fabric stores now, whereas you could count them on one hand when we started. We just keep going with the flow, providing the best fabrics we can find, and the best service we can muster, to our cherished customers.
Now because we're all sewists and love to know more about other sewists sewing machines, fabric collections, etc. here are a few sewing related questions and answers.
a. I know that you sew but what type of garments do you like to sew?
Honestly I haven't bought an article of clothing in a store in maybe 5 years or more! I make my whole wardrobe, but often opt for quick and easy knit projects, due to time contraints and the ease of sewing with knits. Most recently I am working on patternmaking though, and am trying to tell myself to be patient and not to only make things that I can finish in a couple of hours. That gets boring after a while. So, I'm turning my attention to working with wovens, perfecting fit, perfecting my basic patterns, so that I can make more tailored garments that may take a much longer time to complete. I hope to learn more about draping too, so that I can design more innovative garments.
b. Do you have a dedicated sewing room?
Yes! When my daughter moved out, I moved in…to her room.
c. What type of sewing machine do you use? Are you a brand loyalist?
I just upgraded about a year or so ago to a Bernina 710 (discontinued but similar to the 720) and a Babylock Imagine overlock. I chose Bernina after doing a bunch of research, and bought a floor model 810 which happened to be half price at the time (!), but I'm sure there are other great machines out there. It also makes it easier when I go to Kathryn Brenne sewing workshops because all of her machines are Berninas so there's no period of adjustment. I do love it. The differential feed is a huge plus ~ I had it on my old machine (Pfaff) and wasn't willing to give up that feature. I gave my old machines to my daughter so they have a good home and are being used!
d. Who or what inspires your personal sewing?
I'm inspired by all kinds of things… I'm often inspired by what my customers make, by some of the amazing sewists who I follow on Instagram, and of course by my colleague Kathryn Brenne. Often I wake up sewing and designing in my head…I'm obsessed! I'm definitely inspired to strive to be less "slap dash" and more refined and meticulous by working with Kathryn. There is so much help and inspiration online now, and there are so many sewing retreats, workshops, schools…I have way more plans and ideas than I will ever have time to execute. Inspiration is plentiful, but finding the time can be a challenge, as I'm sure is the case for everyone!
Here are Emma One Sock's social media sites ~
Now to the part everyone has been waiting for the discount. Linda is offering 15% off your total order from today, Sunday, September 3rd through Saturday, September 9th, 11:59pm EST. To get the discount, use this coupon code "EOS-FANATIC15-2017"
Please remember that Linda will apply the coupon code when she bills your credit card and she doesn't bill it until after the fabric has been cut and is ready to be shipped. So if you place your order and don't see the discount that's why!
I hope you will head over to Emma One Sock's online fabric store and check out her amazing wares.
Happy National Sewing Month!