WEEKLY BRIEFING: Ambitions of Brothers Cut From Same Fabric
Jason and Rodney Carr’s father ran a Montreal home fashions business for 32 years before selling out to his partner two years ago. With dreams of running a business together, Jason, who had headed up the L.A. division of his father’s operation, cashed in $150,000 in stock and generated another $300,000 from a private investor to open up Softline Home Fashions Inc. last October in Gardena.
“Rodney and I wholesale curtains and draperies, piece goods and quilts. We import fabric from all over the world. We specialize in sheer fabrics both 60 and 118 inches wide. They are laces, embroideries, linens, organza and voile. We stay away from silk and velvet because the profit margins are low. Every competitor has it.
“We wholesale to everyone from small retail shops to JoAnn Fabrics, the largest retailer of home decorating fabrics in the U.S. We have at least 300 customers. We cold call a lot. We look up fabric stores on the Internet. We make contacts at trade shows. I also have long-term relationships with customers from the past. We have very good contacts and we deal with the chain stores, so the orders are high volume.
“I oversee all operations and do the buying for the company. Rodney attends trade shows throughout the year and manages a sales force of five agents across the country. He travels everywhere like a madman. He spends all day in his car. I typically travel 3 1/2 months a year overseas two trips to China and one to Europe. Right now we have six employees two sewers, one bookkeeper, one receptionist and two cutters and packers.
“We’re going to do approximately $700,000 in sales this year. In 2003, we could do $1.4 million. Summer is the best season because people are re-doing their homes. December is usually slow because people spend money on vacations and Christmas gifts.”