A short intro before the Q & A with Susan. I've been purchasing fabric from Susan's online store for the last three years and I've bought some amazing pieces. To me her selection is curated with a more artistic bend...fabrics that you buy when you want to sew more than a basic garment. Not to say that she doesn't have some basics in stock but I head to her site when I'm looking for something extraordinary that will kick my garment up a notch or two.
I also had the opportunity to meet Susan at Sew Expo 2016 ~
The Smuggler’s Daughter has one of the most intriguing business names in the fabric world. Its owner, Susan Liane, is quick to tell customers that she is not a smuggler and that her online fabric store is a legal and ethical business operation. She is, however, a smuggler’s daughter. Susan uses this intriguing name for her online fabric store that carries fine fashion fabrics with many distinctive pieces from clothing designers and manufacturers. Here is what she has to say about owning and running this popular online fabric store!
I love the fact that I actually touch every piece of fabric before it is selected and offered for sale at Smugglers Daughter. This is not the case at many large online stores where fabric is drop shipped from other countries. So I suppose that buying is what I love the most, but it can be stressful for any business owner to make good decisions about what will sell – what my customers will ultimately want.
What is the most important thing you've learned from running an online fabric store?
That I’ve got to give a sewist as much information as possible about the things they feel like they would only learn if they got to touch the fabric. I have to describe the hand and the drape of a fabric and give customers suggestions on what type of garment to sew from a particular piece.
A lacy pleather and a burn out velvet I purchased last December
What is a typical week like?
The Smuggler’s Daughter adds items to the sale section on Mondays, so I start the week off looking for what I can mark down. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I sometimes add blog posts, so I may be sewing or writing on those days. Finally, I add new fabrics on Fridays, so I spend many Thursdays entering information and photos to the site. Of course, we fulfill orders and ship packages every day, and most days I like to survey what the sewing bloggers are saying – a good
way to keep abreast of events and trends in the sewing world.
Is it important to offer international as well as domestic shipping?
I have had orders from all over the world – Israel, American Samoa, Finland, Russia, Australia and Great Britain so international shipping is an issue. I have been surprised that international shipping costs have not been more daunting to my customers.
Do you offer swatches?
Yes, just email me at email@example.com and we will send swatches for free. We do limit swatches to four fabrics at a time and to fabrics that we have at least 8 yards in stock.
Why has online fabric shopping become such an important experience to sewists?
Garment sewists, in particular, have a difficult time finding high quality fabrics outside of major urban areas. When I lived in San Francisco this never occurred to me, of course. I had more than one great fabric store to choose from. But when I moved to a smaller town, it became very clear that most local fabric stores carry quilting cotton and not much else. If you want to sew clothing for adult women who care about quality and fashion, you will probably have to look for fabric online.
Do you have any social media accounts?
The Smuggler’s Daughter is active on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you go to our Facebook page, The Smuggler’s Daughter, and “like it” you will find a code worth $10 off your next order. I love Instagram and plan to get active there soon.
What are your hopes/goals for the future of Smugglers Daughter?
I love the fabric business and I love working with people who sew. Right now I just love the fact that I can succeed by treating customers as I would like to be treated. Someday, we may have a brick and mortar store along with a school, but that is a dream right now.
Now some questions about you and sewing...
Do you sew and what type of garments do you like to sew?
I sew clothing. The quilting bug has never bitten me and I may have sewn two quilts in my life. I love taking a pattern to a place where it may have never been before by altering the design and using unexpected fabrics. Recently I made a vest from a shirt pattern and used three fabrics, one of which was an old dishcloth that I purchased in a junk store. To me, this is art.
Do you have a dedicated sewing room?
The family room in my house is my dedicated sewing room but I do share it with a dog bed for my pooch, Pumpkin.
What type of sewing machine do you use?
I have been sewing on a Bernina for about twenty years. When I first bought it, my brother and I ordered Chinese takeout to eat while we were setting it up and testing it out on my kitchen table. When we opened the fortune cookies, my fortune said “You are Going to Have Some New Clothes.”
The Discount ~
I hope you learned a few new things about Smugglers Daughter and Susan the owner. Now for the good part, Susan is offering 20% off your total order effective today and good through Saturday, September 30th at midnight PST. Just use the code "FANATIC" on the website to get the discount.
I hope you find some amazing treasures to add to your fabric collection!
Happy National Sewing Month!