Q&A with Heather Givans, Crimson Tate owner

Keywords Manufacturing

It’s no surprise products like hand sanitizer and wipes are in high demand. But quilting fabric?

Heather Givans, the owner of quilting shop Crimson Tate, can attest that, yes, her online sales are off the charts, especially since the Trump administration urged citizens to begin wearing cloth masks when they go out in public.

Now, Givans is busy selling her spirited, printed fabrics—some of which she has designed—to customers who are making masks for themselves and others, as well as creating quilts and other projects as an escape.

Meanwhile, she has organized a mask-making effort for Eskenazi Health and is working with other groups on their mask projects as well.

When did Crimson Tate start seeing affects of the pandemic?

It was a little bit before there was a big mandate [to close]. We had already switched to having no one coming in the store—so it was curbside pickup or online ordering. And then they called for shelter-in-place … and now we’re all online, all the time.

But you still come in?

I do. I have seven employees and I gave them the option to do what they feel comfortable doing … because, you know, we’re not an essential business. And while I understand that people are buying supplies for essential reasons, I don’t know that the fabric store has ever been declared as an essential business.

When it first started, it was just me. But it quickly buried me, because it was such a huge response of people needing supplies to make stuff. So, one of my employees who just lives around the corner, was like, “I’m coming in.” So Amy works a couple of days a week.

So how has business been?

It’s scary. And I don’t know, because in one moment I’m like, “Wow, this is really fast and furious.” And then in another, it’s like, “Where did everyone go?” So while, yes, our online business has exploded, it has just made up for people not coming through the door.

Do you feel like it’s enough to keep things afloat?

For right now, yes.

What are you doing with Eskenazi?

I have a buddy who works at Eskenazi, and I just texted him, “If ever you need mobilization, you just need to yell and let me try to help if I can.” And probably a week after I sent that text message, he was like, “It’s go time.” And before I knew it, I was responsible for 4,000 masks.

It’s something that we could do and a service that we could provide, because quilty people are super generous and want to help. My goal was to find 100 volunteers who would make 40 masks apiece, because 4,000 is overwhelming and certainly not something that one person could do.

We’ve done it by emailing my customers and people that I sew with and whatever. And so, then their friends tell their friends and so it’s just rolled out a little bit like that.

There are a lot of groups doing this. And I’ve partnered with some other people (for masks outside the Eskenazi project), like People for Urban Progress and Pattern.

Are your customers ordering fabric to make masks or because they are working on other projects?

Both are happening. I mean, [sewing] is their meditation, right?

It’s been fun but it’s been challenging helping people coordinate quilts and stuff via email or over the phone or Instagram. But we’ve been able to do it.•

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