Fabric Company Celebrates a Century
AN ANDOVER ANNIVERSARY
By Bob Ruggiero
Last year, Andover Fabrics reached a milestone where they could have been feted on a jar of Smucker’s by Al Roker on the Today Show. But celebrating a century in business during the Year of the Pandemic was not going to happen. Like countless other companies, the fabric company had to pivot with their staff and business practices.
Cliff Quibell, Andover Senior VP“We closed the office on March 12, sent everyone home, and left a voice mail message saying that we’d be back on March 15. Well, that didn’t happen!” Senior VP Cliff Quibell laughs on a Zoom interview. Andover later reopened their office in July for staff who couldn’t work from home (like their design studio), but on a rotating-team basis. “I shoved everything from my office into a duffel bag and left! It hasn’t been easy. But we never shut down and we never stopped shipping.”
Attendees at the upcoming Virtual Quilt Market on March 23-25 will get to hear a lot about Andover’s history, current projects, and future endeavors at the Premier Schoolhouse event on March 23 (which will be presented live, but recorded for on demand viewing). Andover will also present their new(ish) substrait lines like the “Century Cloth” of 100 solids and accompanying “Century Prints,” which began rolling out in October.
Andover’s Century Solids
But let’s start at the start. Originally called Concord Fabrics, the company was founded by Max Weinstein in 1920 in New York City's Flatiron district, selling corduroys and haberdashery. The company grew when son Alvin Weinstein joined the company after serving in World War II and founded the over-the-counter division of Concord Fabrics to sell to Macy's, Gimbels, and other stores. He called this division Andover Fabrics.
The Andover division began exhibiting at Quilt Market in the late ‘70s and co-sponsored the Concord-Fairfield Fashion Show for many years. Third-generation family member David Weinstein (currently Andover’s President and Owner) joined the business full time in 1984, and acquired Makower UK in the early ‘90s.
In 2003, Andover Fabrics and Makower UK split from Concord Fabrics to become a completely independent business. Adam Weinstein (also known on social media as “Andover Adam”), has since become the fourth-generation link, and is currently the VP of Marketing. Adam recalls being eight years old when his parents would bring him into the office, where he might also see his grandparents.
“The energy in the office was so exciting. I got a real thrill out of sorting office memos because I felt like I was helping. Then the company began using this new-fangled invention called ‘electronic mail,’ and I had to find something else to do!” he says.
In high school, Adam would help with database entry, but wasn’t planning to stay in the family business. After college he would intern at NBC, MTV, and some ad agencies while occasionally working for Andover. He eventually returned to consult on branding for the company, and was back in the fold full time in 2013. But it’s not something he takes for granted.
Andover President/Owner David Weinstein and VP of Marketing
Adam Weinstein at the 2013 Quilt Market in Houston.
“I think everyone should be skeptical when the son or daughter of an owner takes on a major role in any family business. I definitely feel the pressure to prove that I deserve the opportunity that I've been given. It's a tremendous privilege to be a part of Andover, let alone to have a leadership role in it,” he says. “One of the hardest parts of the past year has been not seeing the whole team at the office. Everyone cares so much about each other, it's really special. And that's a big part of what keeps me motivated.”
Daryl CohenThe family aspect of the company is appealing to Daryl Cohen, Andover’s Brand Manager. “There’s this feeling working for a company like this. It’s a team, and the family has a real interest in you,” she says. Quibell adds “they’ve extended the ‘family hug’ beyond the [actual] family. I’ve worked for three of the four generations, and they’re caring and generous outside of the business. And family comes first.”
In terms of their new fabrics, potential new Andover designers will usually first reach out to Cohen about submissions. The company also has in-house designers working under Creative Director Karen Jarrar, creating with everything from hand painted artwork to advance computer graphic designs. They include Alison Glass, Edyta Sitar, Gail Kessler, Kim Schaefer, Giucy Giuce, Kathy Hall, Libs Elliott, Max & Louise, Di Ford-Hall, Two Can Art, Renee Nanneman, and Sarah Golden.
The quilting industry has, like so many others, seen a sea change in the past decade as business moves more online, and not just for ordering by retailers. Cohen—who has a significant social media presence herself—notes its crucial how the company uses platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to not only for brand awareness, but to foster a sense of community. Andover has significantly beefed up their YouTube presence during the pandemic.
“As our new lines are being released, ‘Andover Adam’ does the videos and narrates the collection, which goes out to our sales force. Then we’ll put that on social media, and the designers will start [promoting] to their own audiences,” she says. “Someone like Edyta Sitar will put up a picture, and in a minute she has 4,000 likes. It’s insane!”
Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar printIn past years, Andover has held the licenses to make fabrics inspired by and using the imagery of TV shows like Downtown Abbey, Little House on the Prairie, and Outlander, and currently produce lines inspired by the books and artwork of legendary children’s author Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar). Quibell knows that the pop culture representations—whether long-running or more of a certain time—reaches a new and different audience.
“We get a lot of people who know nothing about quilting that look at stuff like that and maybe they don’t make a quilt, but they make a table runner or banner for a kid’s birthday,” he says. “It brings people to the community who would have never known about us before.” Cohen adds that she’s already seen garments and cosplay inspired by the white-hot show Bridgerton pop up.
As for the future both immediate and post-pandemic, Quibell says the goal is to just continue what they’re doing and adapt to changes that come around, “whatever they are.”
“We’ll hopefully all get to see each other again sometime this year. We’re following the science and we’ve done so from the beginning. And we’re also looking to pave the road and bring in the future of the company with [new employees].”
And for “Andover Adam,” that day can’t come soon enough. “When we closed our offices on March 12 last year, no one really knew when we'd see each other again. I remember walking home that day, literally shaking with anxiety. It wasn't just the sirens blaring, but there was this real sense of panic cast over the entire city that you could feel in your bones,” he says. “I think it's so important to know that you're not alone, especially during tough times.”
For more information on Andover, visit AndoverFabrics.com
Virtual Quilt Market
International Quilt Market/Houston
Classes/events begin October 21
George R. Brown Convention Center
Houston, Texas USA
NOTE: Quilt Market is a credentialed
trade show only, and not open to
For information on these or any other Quilts, Inc. shows, visit Quilts.com.
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