Cotton Ginny's Craft and Wearable Patterns

Cotton Ginny's Craft and Wearable Patterns
Cotton Ginny's Craft and Wearable Patterns
About Us

The story of Cotton Ginny's
Featured on the cover of Sewing Professional Magazine
 

Cynthia Rose Designs An Ever-Growing Menagerie Of Craft Patterns For Cotton Ginny's

Cynthia Rose first got into the craft business in 1982 when she opened a fabric/quilt/craft shop with her mother, Helen Beverlin, in Fresno, CA. The pair had always enjoyed sewing and doing crafts but found it difficult to find unique patterns and ideas. Thinking that a lot of people felt the same way they did, they stocked their shop with the newest patterns and fabrics and made up lots of samples to inspire their customers.
     Cynthia and Helen named their shop Cotton Ginny’s Fabrics after the mules that used to pull cotton carts, which were called “cotton ginnies.”
     Working on a shoestring budget in their first shop, Cynthia and her mother would often make little craft items for display. Soon they found that customers were so inspired by their displayed crafts that they were asking for patterns for the items. Not having used a pattern to make the crafts, Cynthia and her mother would just type up instructions on a single sheet of paper. The instructions were given away free when the customer purchased supplies or sold for 50 to 99 cents without a purchase.
     As the homemade pattern instructions became increasingly popular, Cynthia and her mother became more and more comfortable writing and selling their instructions.
     Cynthia recalled, “In those years small pattern companies were very few; the industry as we now know it was just being born.”
      In 1983, Cynthia’s mother designed their first official full pattern, which was for covering photo albums. More patterns followed and eventually, Cynthia herself got in on the action by creating a pattern for a reindeer door hanging made out of a man’s wool sock she called “Rudy Reindeer.”
      “We knew we had to market them beyond our shop,” said Cynthia about all the patterns she and her mother were creating. They approached a store called The Cotton Ball in Morro Bay, CA. While they were showing their models and patterns to one of the owners of the store, passing customers tried to buy their patterns. That day they sold their first pattern in a shop other than their own.
      Cynthia stated that that first sale at The Cotton Ball began “a long and prosperous relationship between our two shops and we were very grateful for them.”
      After the patterns became successful in Cotton Ginny’s Fabrics and in The Cotton Ball, they were picked up by a couple of distributors.
      Eventually Cynthia and her mother decided it was time to exhibit in a trade show. They drove cross-country to Philadelphia for their first Quilt Market. “We were so unprepared, we had no idea how to set up a booth or what we needed to take. It worked out okay and we picked up new shops for our patterns,” said Cynthia.
      Not only was Quilt Market good for their business, the drive across the country proved fortuitous for Cynthia and her mother as well. While passing through Tennessee they stopped in a country gift shop where someone had haphazardly stuck a ceramic chicken inside a bonnet.
      “Light bulbs went off in our heads and our next new pattern was born: ‘Chicken in a Bonnet.’ It became one of our best selling patterns,” recalled Cynthia.
      When the pair returned to Cotton Ginny’s Fabrics in California, they were so busy that they didn’t do another trade show for many years.
      In 1986, Cynthia’s mother semi retired and went from being a full-time partner to making models for the store and creating new patterns.
      “I would jump in and design a pattern when time permitted, but that was not an easy task while trying to run a shop,” said Cynthia.
      Then in 1994, after 12 years in business, Cynthia decided to close Cotton Ginny’s Fabrics and start designing full time, naming her new business just “Cotton Ginnys.” She moved to Hanford, CA, to be near her family and now works from home.
      “So many experiences from the store help me in designing. So many trends that I had to learn so that I could teach them to customers, like stenciling, shirt decorating, and on and on, help me now in little ways.” said Cynthia.
      Cynthia also feels that her previous experience as a shop owner helps her relate to the vendors she now sells her patterns to. She knows what they go through and understands their needs. Cynthia mentioned that she believes that shop owners’ three basic needs are “Keep prices reasonable, keep designs simple, and ship within 24-48 hours.”
      Cynthia has a lot of respect and appreciation for the independent shops she works with.
      She explained, “(They) get our product to the consumer and in many cases hold classes to better teach them how to make them. They are working hard for us to keep these traditions alive.”
      Besides selling her designs to independent shops, Cynthia also designs patterns for McCall’s Pattern Company.
      To introduce their new designs, Cotton Ginnys exhibits at Quilt Market in the spring and advertises in a craft magazine. They have distributors and have just had a new Web site designed at http://www.cottonginnys.com/.
      Speaking of one of the keys to Cotton Ginnys’ success, Cynthia said, “Having a great support team is so important in any business, and I have wonderful people who help me.”
      With her support team backing her up and with her enthusiasm and love for her work, Cynthia will certainly assure Cotton Ginnys’ continued success. Cynthia’s support team includes her mother, who still helps in the business, her Aunt Retta, who collates and bags the patterns, and her assistant, Terri. Other team members include Glenn Schafer, her professional photographer, Gloria Ludgate at Palmer Printing, and the smallest member of their gang, Sabrina, Cynthia’s shaggy dog who is in charge of inspiration for all the critter designs. Cynthia also has a special person in her life who supports everything she does, helps her develop new ideas, encourages her and tries to keep her on track.
      “It’s a blessing to be a part of such a creative and challenging industry,” said Cynthia, “I’m not even sure how I got here, but I do count those blessings every day!”

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