On today’s episode of the While She Naps podcast we’re talking about the business of fabric with my guests, Hailey Hoffman Chisholm and Aaron Hoffman of Hoffman California Fabrics.
Together, Aaron and Hailey represent the fourth generation of the Hoffman family working in the company that will hit its 94th anniversary later this year. Hailey works as marketing and sales associate. Her mother, Robin Hoffman Haack, is the chief financial officer.
Aaron launched the Me+You brand to offer hand-dyed solids and batiks featuring minimalist graphic designs over solid backgrounds. His goal was to make batiks more appealing to quilters pursuing the modern aesthetic in their projects. Aaron’s father is Tony Hoffman, the company CEO. Walter Hoffman, who still works daily in the office, is grandfather to Aaron and Hailey.
Walter Hoffman walks through the Hoffman Fabrics warehouse.
Hailey and Walter.
We begin by talking about Walter and Phillip “Flippy” Hoffman, both of whom were extraordinary surfers in the 1950’s, surfing on the North Shore of Hawaii and in Bali. Their love of surfing led them to pivot the family fabric business which has been founded by their father Rube Hoffman and was, at the time, focused on wool flannels, to surf fashion.
This video made by Cushe shoes explains how the Hoffman’s brought surf fashion into the mainstream.
Today, Hoffman California has a fabric archive with 50,000 hanger samples, 9 yards each, of every print Hoffman has ever made since the early 1950’s. It’s the largest tropical print archive in the U.S. and possibly the world!
The Hoffman Fabrics tropical print archives.
The brothers went to Bali in the late 1970’s to surf and struck up a conversation with a guy in the water who was making batiks. They visited his workshop and have been producing batik fabrics for their company ever since. Hoffman California was the first company to introduce batiks to the quilting market.
Artisans in Bali making Hoffman batiks.
We also talk about:
- Why Hoffman mostly uses in-house designers rather than freelance designers
- The role of sales reps
- Why batiks get a bad rap among modern quilters and what Aaron is doing to combat that
- The environmental impact of making batik fabrics. Here’s a video showing Hoffman’s wastewater treatment facility.
- The changing role of Quilt Market
- The potential of digital printing
- The recent shakeups in the quilting fabric market
Rolls of fabric stacked up at the warehouse at Hoffman California Fabrics.
Me+You fabrics on display.
And, of course, I ask Hailey and Aaron to recommend great stuff they’re enjoying right now.
- Jumping in the ocean (he also loves to surf, as does his daughter)
This episode is sponsored by STITCHES Midwest 2018. Exclusively for While She Naps listeners, you can get 20% OFF STITCHES Midwest 2018 classes and events by visiting www.STITCHES.events/Midwest and entering the coupon code MIDWEST18WSN at check-out. With stimulating classes and shopping for ALL— knitters, crocheters, weavers, AND sewers, quilters, and others interested in all things yarn AND fabric—you won’t want to miss this amazing show. You can learn more at www.STITCHES.events/Midwest
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