Ebrahim and son Arvin Pairavi in the office of Shannon Fabrics.
Q&A – Arvin Pairavi
of Shannon Fabrics
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When you think of those soft-to-the-touch “plush fabrics,” usually one company comes to mind — Shannon Fabrics. The company will be celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, having evolved into a wholesale fabric provider who – in the words of their slogan – aims to “make the world a softer place.”
The company’s origins began overseas. Ebrahim Pairavi, his wife Ziba, and sons Edwin and Arvin emigrated to the U.S. in 1988 from his native Iran. That’s where he grew up around his own father’s fabric business. Ebrahim opened Shannon Fabrics as a small retail store in 1995, naming it after his U.S.-born daughter, Amy Shannon. Arvin joined the family business in 1999, with a new retail store debuting soon after. However, a few years later the company decided to pivot from a retail to a wholesale business, where they’ve been ever since.
Now the President of Shannon Fabrics, Arvin Pairavi recently shared with eInsider the company’s story and how they plan on facing the future in the quilting and sewing industry.
What motivated your father to start Shannon Fabrics? And what was the business like at this initial time?
He had been in the fabric business back home in Iran, and so had his father and grandfather. When he first started the company, it was primarily in the business of buying and selling closeouts and promotional fabrics.
The Shannon Fabrics warehouse.
What was it about growing up in Iran and around his own father’s fabric business that prepared him for this journey? How did he learn/train for the business?
Being around the business as a child he learned a lot, but as a young adult he had to take over his father’s business due to an illness and assumed full financial responsibilities for his family.
What was behind the decision to switch from a retail to a wholesale business?
The tough nature of the retail landscape in Los Angeles and the desire to grow the business.
For you, what has been the funniest or most amusing thing that’s happened since you came into the company?
The funniest thing for me is that our current General Manager and Customer Service Managers were once customers‚ and now are part of the reason we have been so successful!
The staff at Shannon Fabrics.
What have been the advantages and also disadvantages of having a family owned-and-run company?
Of course with everything there are advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include having my dad’s experience and credit to start our business. The disadvantages are his traditional way of thinking and running a business on a tight budget which sometimes gets in the way of growth. Overall, my father and I complement each other really well, and have done a wonderful job working together to grow the company!
Shannon is known for its “plush” fabrics. What can quilters and sewists do with this type of fabric they cannot with a more traditional kind?
I’ve been impressed with how our customers and Brand Ambassadors have incorporated our fabrics into a wide range of projects. We’ve seen our fabrics sewn into everything from apparel like outerwear, vests, and scarves, to home décor throws, quilts, bedding, pillows, and even bean bag chairs and ottomans. Some of the most fun projects I have seen are costumes, baby toys, soft books, and plush stuffed animals. We’ve even had customers create pet beds and pet clothing out of Cuddle® and Luxe Cuddle®!
How does Shannon use the internet and social media to increase brand awareness?
We post regularly to all the major social media platforms and have seen great results in increased brand awareness and engagement. We believe very strongly in the importance of educating others about working with our fabrics on our social media platforms. We educate our customers and consumers about how to best work with our fabrics, provide them inspiration with fun sewing projects and tutorials, and work with our trusted industry partners to cross-collaborate and increase brand awareness throughout the entire industry.
Shannon’s National Educator Teresa Coates hosts “Sew Together Tuesdays” online.
We also use social media for our popular Sew Together Tuesdays series with Teresa Coates, our National Educator. This series encompasses a variety of hands-on projects, tutorials, how-to’s, and inspirational videos. We go live on Facebook and also upload these videos to our YouTube channel. This goes hand-in-hand with our blog, where we create blogs and videos on a weekly basis on a variety of topics to help both spread brand awareness and engage with our customers.
What is the most positive development you’ve seen in the industry since 1995?
The use of technology in our industry and birth of online retail fabric sales.
What is the development since 1995 you wish had not happened?
The lack of interest and adoption of technology by the big independent fabric stores which are falling one by one.
Finally, what do you think the future holds for the quilting and sewing industry in terms of health, development, and meeting economic challenges?
I think the quilting and sewing space will be fine, but people will change the way they acquire the goods they need so as a wholesale supplier we have to always ask how we can continue to serve our customers and be important to them.
For more on Shannon Fabrics, visit ShannonFabrics.com