art gallery fabrics
Project Challenge 2012 - Challenge # 7 - Piecing Pillow
Fat Quarter Gang - the Quilted Sham by Maureen Cracknell Handmade

Star Store of the Month

Hey guys,
It's that time of the month when we present to you the new Star Store! When picking the next Star Store we thought of Lauren and her shop Sew Modern. Lauren and her amazing staff have set up the cutest shop over in Los Angeles, California and recently added an online shop to their resume. Of course we wanted to know more about the woman, the business and her crew. We were so excited that when we contacted her she was all for it and even shared pics around the shop.
Beware... these ladies are super friendly and their energy will draw you in!
Here's what we got :)
1. Tell us how Sew Modern got started.  Why?  When? Where? Who?

I learned to sew on a whim about 8 years ago.  I took a class and the instructor, Capril Bonner-Thomas became my mentor and friend.  I was hooked on fabric and sewing in a bad way and I often talked with Capril about opening a store that carried all the fabrics we were only finding online.  We wanted to see and touch and compare in person!  I also wanted a community of sewing geeks like myself to hang out with.  Luckily that community came in the form of the Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild.  I joined right at the inception and was immediately blessed with friends, a focus group, customers, instructors...a community.  In October of 2010 I took the plunge and signed a lease for a storefront here on the west side of Los Angeles.  It's been a wonderful whirlwind ever since.  Though I am the sole proprietor, I have an amazing staff and community supporting me and it all just keeps building.  We are having a blast!  Unfortunately my friend Capril passed away before ever seeing me realize my dream, but I know she'd be proud and amazed.  This year we opened an online shop as well as a way to keep the inventory flowing as we want to have all the great new lines in the shop and we only have 1,500 square feet.  We manage to have over 2,000 bolts, a classroom area, a longarm quilting machine, a huge custom cutting table and a lounge area in that amount of space!

Overview(Sew Modern Store in Los Angeles, CA)

2. Some shops have a theme...what would you say is your shop's theme?
I don't know if I'd call it a theme, but Sew Modern is just what it indicates: A modern place for fabric, learning and creating.  We have a bright, eclectic, inviting style and we want everyone who comes through our doors to feel welcome.  (Well, maybe not the drunk guy who poured whiskey on our rug!) 

Solids(AGF Solids)

3. What goes into fabric selection?  What do you consider and how much of a role does personal taste play?

I am the sole buyer but I definitely get input from my customers and employees.  It's a gut feeling really, that propels me to choose fabrics.  So I guess personal taste plays a huge role, but I like a lot of things so that keeps it plentiful!
Quality of basecloth, designs, colors, price points, delivery dates...all of that is considered as well.  
Lounge(Lounge area to sit back and relax, hang out with friends or hold a get together)

4. Social media is one of the biggest tools out there right do you incorporate it on a daily basis and how have you seen that impact your business?

Social media is huge now in business.  We have a Facebook page, we Tweet, we're on Pinterest...and the ONLY advertising we've done is on blogs.  WE LOVE BLOGS!  We also have our own blog which is getting a facelift as we speak.  I would say most of our online traffic comes from blogs and Twitter.  

5. So let's say I just bought some fabric online...describe the process and time frame from order to doorstep...without letting our any secrets ;)
Luckily our online store is connected to our in-store POS system.  When we get an order a few things happen.  The order shows up on the store computer.  I also receive an email notifying me from our system.  I also get a notice from paypal saying money was received. It's amazing because this way we never miss an order.  As soon as someone is in the shop the order is cut and packaged and the inventory is updated.  Usually the orders ship out the same day they are placed or the next day.  It should arrive on your doorstep within 3 days of shipping.  
Ariga (Ariga going through some AGF Solids)
6. Lauren, you have kids ranging from ages 4-15...How involved and interested are they in the shop?  Are they interested in the sewing, fabric or quilting world?  

My kids are all pretty impressed with the store, but only one of them is really interested in sewing at this point.  She's my 9 year old and she has a sewing machine in her room and she wants embroidery stuff for her birthday.  If they are in  the store, they all like to ring up sales...they think they're so cool.  Mostly they like that I'm a few doors down from Starbucks.
Liz(Liz flashing us a smile)
7. Tell us about your staff.  WE met Liz at quilt market and can tell that you are surrounded by a wonderful staff.

Well that is absolutely true, I have a great staff.  I've got Liz who is my manager, personal slave and sewist extraordinaire, Ariga who is amazingly patient with customers and a great garment designer and sewist,  Lisa who knows all about sewing machine parts and can fix most anything AND sew anything---she made it her personal mission to know our long arm machine better than anyone so she can teach it well, and we have many other top notch guest instructors.  I'm extremely fortunate in that regard.  Oh, and my amazing nanny, Cesiah, without whom I would not be able to work at all!

Long arm(Lisa at the long arm)
8. If you didn't run a successful fabric shop what would be your dream job? 

In many respects this is my dream job, though it couldn't be more different from what I thought I'd be doing with my life.  I love sewing but I can't be holed up by myself all the time, it's just not in my nature.  I need people.  I do hope that some day the business parts of the shop will be running enough without me so that I can be more creative and have a smidgen of free time.  HA!

9. You carry a variety of Art Gallery Fabrics products.  Can you tell our readers what you like most about our products?  What are your hot sellers from AGF right now?

I would have to start at the beginning with the base cloth Art Gallery uses.  It has such a beautiful hand to it...soft and drapier than other mid-weight cottons so it's great for garments as well as quilting.  The colors Pat uses and her designs are just stunning in every collection.  Different from anyone else out there!  And prolific!  just one gorgeous collection after another!
What's hot now?  Summerlove has been selling extremely well and we are constantly reordering Oval and Lace Elements.  They are the perfect blenders.  But Pure Elements has to be our hottest seller right now because the colors are extraordinary and the little bit of sheen they have....mmmmm. just divine!

10. What kind of feedback do you get from consumers that buy AGF? 
Nothin' but net, baby.  It's all fantastic.

11. What is your favorite AGF collection so far?

I have to pick ONE?  That's too hard!  I plead the 5th!

Agf rocks
(Lauren, Shop owner)

Awwww... Thanks Lauren and gals over at Sew Modern! We love you guys too! You have a beautiful store and we are so happy to be in your shop!

If you would like to know more about Sew Modern you can like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and get the latest scoop on the blog.... Go on and let them know AGF sent you!
Til next time... Happy fabric buying!