On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast we’re talking about building an innovative company in the sewing industry with my guest, Fred Drexler.

Fred, along with his wife, Joyce, founded Sulky of America, a premier thread and stabilizer company. Fred began his career in the sewing industry in 1965 at age 23 as a salesman for the Singer Company in Akron Ohio. In 1969, he opened his own Singer dealership in Punta Gorda, Florida and met Joyce in 1974. She founded Speed Stitch, the company that popularized free motion embroidery using a domestic sewing machine. In 1987 Speed Stitch partnered with a German thread manufacturer to form Sulky of America.

Sulky President, Jason Prater with Sarah Gustason and Fred Drexler, at Spring Quilt Market.

We trace the history of the company from Fred’s early days selling Singer sewing machines, a job he took on a whim, to building one of the most significant companies in the home sewing and quilting industries today. Hear how Joyce stumbled upon water soluble stabilizer at a time when it was non-existent on the American market and how she and Fred went about making that product a massive commercial success. Sulky continues to partner and innovate today. This year they released an exclusive thread collection with Cotton+Steel.

Cotton+Steel Sulky Threads

In 2009 Fred passed the role of president of Sulky onto Jason Prater, an employee who had worked at the company since 1995. We talk about the particular challenges of selling Sulky and how Fred is thinking about the future.

Fred and Joyce Drexler

Fred and Joyce on their motorcycle.

And, of course, I ask Fred to recommend great stuff he’s enjoying right now. Fred and Joyce are enjoying spending time with their six grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Fred is an avid motorcyclist and they take 100+ mile day rides in the mountains of North Carolina near their home.

Catch up with Sulky on their website, on Facebook, and on Instagram.


Girl Charlee Fabrics

Today’s episode is sponsored by Girl Charlee Fabrics. Girl Charlee Fabrics is your online source for knit fabrics, carrying a wide selection of unique cotton jersey, cotton lycra, brushed poly spandex, french terry, and more. Girl Charlee Fabrics also stocks all the best indie sewing patterns from designers around the world. New customers save 10% on their first order, and always $7.99 flat rate shipping on any order, any size!  Shop now at girlcharlee.com.


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