I want to wish everyone a healthy and Happy New Year. It’s been a very busy start to 2011 and I have a lot to share with you, but tonight’s blog is devoted to a letter from Paula and I. Big changes are in store for Bonnie Blue Quilts and we wanted to share them with you. Please sit back and read our letter.
We opened Bonnie Blue Quilts in 2005 when we realized there was a need for one source for all of the reproduction fabrics that were appearing in the market. Boy, has it grown and changed since that first day. It is hard to imagine that two bookcases of fabric and five quilt patterns set up in one small bedroom would grow into a thriving online business that requires two large warehouse and multiple employees! Although we started out as an online fabric store, it quickly became obvious that you, our customers, wanted more. We were thrilled that you loved our quilts, but you wanted your quilts to look like our samples, so we began “kitting” our designs and including the same fabrics in the kits. Our “Exclusive” kits have driven our business and made us unique among quilt stores. In addition to purchasing the newest fabric collections for our website, we also purchased large quantities of the fabric we used in our samples, thus insuring the availability of our kits long after the manufacturer had discontinued the fabrics.
We want to maintain this uniqueness, but carrying the same fabrics that every other quilt shop is selling defeats that purpose. The internet has changed the face of today’s marketplace. With just a few keystrokes, a customer can shop quilt stores all across the country and find the best price for any item. The best price may not necessarily be at Bonnie Blue Quilts and we realize that. We have also listened carefully to our customers – your comments are about the quilts and what we have done with the fabric, not the fabric s themselves.
As the business grew and evolved, it became all-consuming. The warehouses demanded our time and designing and piecing were left to afterhours, which meant late nights or early mornings, and time with our families became non-existent. Now add traveling across the US to 15-18 shows a year, and we’re away from the office and warehouse and designing and piecing on the road. Virtually impossible. The traveling and quilt shows are physically exhausting and keep us away from our homes and husbands. “Empty nest” for them included wives, not just their children. Something had to give!
Having said all of this, you can understand why thirteen months ago, on our fifth anniversary, we decided to carefully look at what we had already accomplished, where we currently were and where we still wanted to go as a business. We did not want to continue in the same way, so we needed a new business plan. We decided to start 2011 with the business heading in a new direction. Throughout the previous five years we have always had other ideas for the business that we wanted to pursue, but could not conceive of how we could fit them into our already overbooked lives. We couldn’t give them 100%, and we couldn’t imagine starting something and giving it less than 100% – that’s not the Bonnie Blue way!!
It was obvious to us that we were in need of a change. We’ve looked very hard at the business and finally decided on a plan that would allow us to be more creative and thus make Bonnie Blue Quilts better for you – our customers. The final decision was to downsize the website to only carry kits, which will allow us the time we need to pursue other creative avenues.
As of February 1st, our new focus will be the kits our customers love so much. We will no longer be selling patterns or fabric by the yard. If your local quilt shop doesn’t carry our patterns, we suggest that you ask them to visit us at Quilt Market so they can see what we have to offer.
Over the past six years, we’ve enjoyed your calls, your emails and the opportunity to meet so many of you at quilt shows. However, as sad as it will be, we will be decreasing our travel considerably and attending a minimal number of quilt shows this year.
We are very excited about the future for Bonnie Blue Quilts and where it will take us in the next few years. We hope you will share in our excitement! Watch for a Block of the Month program and more new quilt patterns, fabric collections, and quilt appearances in magazines, and perhaps even a book – all for you, our friends and loyal customers.
The remainder of the fabric that is in our warehouse and on our website is currently on sale at 35% off. Shop and build up your “collections”! We’ve saved what we need for the beautiful new designs that we have planned, but the rest is yours. Check out the website for great deals on some great fabric. And if you live anywhere near us (Katy, TX), we will be opening the warehouse again for shopping – details to follow in later emails.
Of course, our plan to downsize comes with some sadness. We realize that these changes will affect a number of very special people, and we want to take a moment and thank them.
To Jackie – who “thrives” on customer service,
To Cindy – who is truly “employee of the month”
To Lindsay – who brings a bit of “youth” to brighten our day
and to Jill – who dazzles us with her “fast figures”
THANK YOU!!!!! Where would we be without each of you!!! You have been a part of the Bonnie Blue family and we will be sad not seeing you every day.
And to Peter and JR – thank you for your continued support, woodworking skills, manual labor and just being there through this adventure that is Bonnie Blue Quilts!!
Happy New Year and Happy Quilting,
Mary Ellen and Paula