On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast we’re talking about building a fabric company with my guest, Arvin Pairavi.
Arvin is the President and Co-Owner of Shannon Fabrics, a family owned importer and distributor of plush fabrics. Arvin joined the company in 2000 to work with his father and has helped grow Shannon Fabrics from a small business to a team of more than 50 employees.
The Shannon Fabrics team at Spring 2017 Quilt Market.
In this interview we trace the Pairavi family’s history in the fabric business. Arvin’s grandfather and father had fabric stores in Iran before the family fled to the United States as refugees in the late 1980s. Once settled in Los Angeles, his father went into the fabric business again, opening a retail and wholesale fabric shop focusing on garment fabrics.
When the family hit hard times due to the stock market crash in late 1999, Arvin left his job in the electronics business to help his father. They began importing fabrics, expanding their wholesale business significantly. On a buying trip Arvin discovered a new, exceptionally soft polyester fabric that was different from anything currently on the market at that time. He placed a small order for what Shannon Fabrics called Cuddle fabric and was thrilled when this new substrate became an immediate success. Today, it’s one of Shannon’s premier products and is available in nearly 100 colors.
A few years later Shannon Fabrics entered the quilting industry, attending Quilt Market for the first time. Later, a licensing partnership with Robert Kaufman led to more popularity among local quilt shops.
We also touch on:
- Over saturation in the fabric market
- Whether Fabric.com should be considered a big box retailer
- The importance of setting a low minimum order threshold for new wholesalers
Arvin and Jenny Doan in Hamilton, Missouri.
And, of course, I ask Arvin to recommend great stuff he’s enjoying right now. Arvin recommends:
- anything and everything by Tony Robbins
- Persian cuisine
Keep up with Shannon Fabrics on their blog, and on Facebook and Instagram.
This episode is sponsored by Okan Arts. Okan Arts offers vintage Japanese fabrics for adventuresome sewists and quilters. The shop specializes in high-quality yukata cottons that are hand-dyed and traditionally used to make summer kimonos. The fabric patterns range from classic geometrics in indigo and white, to bold, lyrical motifs in vivid colors. Be sure to visit Okan Arts when you are in Seattle, or online at okanarts.com.
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WONDERFUL interview, Abby ~ Thank you for sharing this interesting and inspirational example of entrepreneurship!
Thank you for listening to the show, Martha!
Thank you Abby and thank you to Arvin Pairavi for being a guest. I really enjoyed this interview from beginning to end. I was inspired to purchase some of plush fabric made by Shannon Fabrics this past February by a shop owner who took the time to show me in great detail how to use it. In hindsight I’m convinced she must be an example of the education Arvin described as being so important a part of what they convey to their retailers. It really did make a huge difference to me and was so very helpful. I ended up making a bigger-than-I-would-have purchase, but without any buyer’s remorse because I had a purpose! I really appreciate the information that you bring to your audience. Thank you again.
That’s great, Rebecca. I love to pieces of Shannon Cuddle in my stash.
Wow! Wow! I’m so happy to listen to this podcast! I didn’t know anything about Shannon Fabrics other than I can’t do my business without them! It was so joyful to listen to this podcast and learn that there is such a great story and good people behind it. Abby – you really captured how great the cuddle is by explaining about how it doesn’t stretch and curl like the cheaper Minky. I go so far as to spray baste minky to muslin or interfacing before sewing it if I can’t get the Cuddle I need so that it behaves a little more like Cuddle. Now I know how many colors there are, I can’t imagine I’d ever need anything else. The trick will be finding the perfect colors at the right time- I loved the reference to store locators. I’m finding some gems nearby that I didn’t even know to check. This past spring I needed 10 yards of a low pile pink plush. I’m on a pretty tight budget so I got something other than Shannon. I couldn’t even use it. So I support what he says about you get what you pay for. I had to order the Cuddle and stress over if it would arrive on time, and I lost all the money I spent on the cheap stuff.. It definately saves money in the long run to stay loyal. This was just a great podcast, in the future if I hear gripes over my prices, I’m going to refer my customers to this podcast. 🙂
Small world, I love this specific podcast, 20 years ago I worked in the garment industry in LA, not everyone ran a company like Arvin does.. I hope Shannon continues to thrive. This weekend I was at Brewery Artwalk, wearing a dress I made from fabric design by Bari J. A woman commented and mentioned that she works in the industry, it was Teresa Coates from Shannon. We talked for an hour, about the industry, about quilting, about fabric design. We would have connected because of my dress. But because of this podcast I had a lot more to talk about. I love it when a podcast brings people together. I’m also excited to see how Shannon continues to thrive.
What a great story! I love this.