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
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
Besides selling her
designs to independent shops, Cynthia also designs patterns for McCall’s
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
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
“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