Handmade: Outlet store helps cut the cost of sewing
Sean Jonna only had the doors to his fabric outlet open two weeks when employees from two competitors began shopping at the store after learning about it through word-of-mouth from customers where they worked.
As the owner of Fabric Land Outlet Store in Royal Oak, one of the newest fabric retailers in Metro Detroit, he said, they come “because they like the quality of the fabric and the prices.”
The savvy business owner, who lives in West Bloomfield, equipped himself with knowledge needed to start and operate a successful fabric business during the three years he worked at a local manufacturing warehouse that produces linens for special occasions. Although he didn’t learn to sew, he said, “it taught me all about different fabrics and fiber content, and the different usages for the fabrics. They made draperies, tablecloths, chair covers, dinner napkins, and anything you’d see at a wedding.” He quit his job and launched his business just over a year ago.
About those hard-to-beat prices — material at Fabric Land ranges from $1.99 up to $79.99 a yard. There are also three bargain bends filled with fabric, priced at $1.99, $2.99 and $4.99 a yard. Every week, new fabric produced mostly in the U.S. is added to the store’s inventory, which also includes decorative tassels at 99 cents each, and fancy trims, starting at 79 cents a yard.
“People are happy about our pricing because they don’t have to buy fabric online anymore because we are very competitive. People like to see it up close and feel it, rather than buy online where the color will always be different because it’s based on the screen’s resolution,” explained Jonna.
Customers have a wide range of fabrics to choose from. “We wanted to carry a little bit of everything,” he said. “We have a large variety of knit fabrics, jersey fabrics, cotton quilting fabrics, upholstery fabrics, home decor fabrics, apparel fabrics, evening wear fabrics, suiting fabrics, faux furs, lining fabrics, drapery fabrics (etc.).” He also carries waxed cotton prints from Ghana, with plans to expand his selection of African fabrics “very soon.”
Southfield resident Loren Hicks, founder of Michigan Fashion Week (a weeklong event highlighting fashion designers and runway models here in Michigan) said, “He has great prices and great quality fabrics. He has such a diverse inventory, so I love the store.”
Jonna believes his low prices have helped rekindle a love affair with sewing for many of his customers because he’s made quality fabrics more affordable. “I’ve heard it over and over, and that made me really happy because we’re bringing back sewing.”
He also said what sets his store apart from others is the fine service they offer. “I have a very friendly and knowledgeable staff, who love to answer questions. Both were customers, and after getting to know them, I realized their personality and passion for sewing and knowledge for fabric was a perfect fit to be in my store.” Each is a fashion designer and seamstress.
A varied customer base frequents the popular outlet with the bright turquoise and hot pink sign, at 32767 Woodward, one block south of 14 Mile (Royal Oak).
“I have a lot of interior designers, a lot of seamstresses and fashion designers, a lot of theater groups, a lot of quilting groups and people who are reupholstering furniture,” he said. “Girls who want to make their own prom dress will bring in a seamstress or tailor, and a lot of bridal salons have been stopping in, so we’re trying to cater to everyone’s needs.”
He added, “I have grandmothers bringing in their granddaughters, starting at 7 years old, who are learning how to sew, up to women in their 70s, and it’s a big mixture (of ages) in between.”
Last month, Michigan Fashion Week hosted a private shopping and networking event at the store, with seminars, a sip and shop, and refreshments. Attendees had the opportunity to learn sewing techniques from a host of professional fashion designers. Upcoming activities will include sewing classes with Jonna as one of the students.
(Fabric Land Outlet Store is open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Sat., and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. Parking is available in both the front and rear of the store.)
Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, email@example.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.
Contact Fabric Land Outlet Store (32767 Woodward, Royal Oak) at (800) 517-1135 or on Facebook. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.