Only a few month’s after Johann Hertz opened her Cloth & Bobbin Fabric “boutique,” the bottom fell out of the economy. But here she is, 2 1/2 years later and still sewing and selling and loving what she does.
I asked Johanna some questions. Here they are with the answers:
1. Did you have a business plan? “NO” (However, Johanna had a former career —Don’t we all?— in selling and managing, so she had a feel for what she wanted.)
2. Why did you decide to go into business for yourself, and why the fabric business? Johanna said she wanted to be in a creative business that she enjoyed coming to. She also felt there was a need for a local fabric store in her community (Narberth, a town on the Philadelphia Mainline). Note: Johanna has been sewing since childhood, so this was an area she felt comfortable in.
3. How does being an entrepreneur impact on your family life? Johanna told me she was single and had no children, so she could put in the long hours needed to be in her own business.
4. Do you think self-employed women with their own business have a more difficult time than men in business?
Johanna answered that YES, except that she is in a business that is generally female-oriented, so she might not have had the obstacles that women face with businesses that more men might also choose.
5. What obstacles did you not see? Johanna noted what I wrote in the first paragraph, that she did not anticipate such a dip in the economy. I said that perhaps her business did not go under, because with money tight, people may have decided to make their own items instead of buy them.
6. Are you pleased with how the business is evolving? “YES, very pleased.”
7. Who comes up with your great advertising ideas? Johanna combines her own ideas with other people’s suggestions as well as input from her creative graphic design artist.
8. Any other comments to help women who want to go into business “Have realistic expectations.”
Because Johanna’s store is small, I also asked her how she could decide what to buy and sell. She said that you can’t do everything well, so she focused on one area to create a niche—contemporary, edgy, cotton fabric. Cloth & Bobbin also provides classes, patterns, trim, and buttons. I like to think of it as a boutique, because it fits the definition: “A business that serves a sophisticated or specialized clientele.” (Oxford University Dictionary)
Since I purchase almost all my fabric for my tote bags from Cloth & Bobbin, I can attest to the fact that her fabric patterns are contemporary and edgy, and I love that they are cotton. Here is a tote bag I made from fabric I purchased at Johanna’s lovely shop:
Johanna will ship fabric to you, but you really have to come into Cloth & Bobbin to appreciate what a gem it is!
The website is: www.clothandbobbin.com. Take a peak to see what’s cookin’, or I should say, sewin’ at Cloth & Bobbin.