Nothing beats the excitement of receiving a much-anticipated catalog in the mail—except for getting that same catalog via email a lot faster with built-in shopping links so you can start filling up your cart before things sell out.
We recently had the privilege of sitting down with Rogie Sussman Faber, third-generation co-owner of Vogue Fabrics, a fashion fabric retailer and wholesaler that cleverly combines the best of both worlds. Vogue Fabrics utilizes digital catalogs alongside physical fabric samples and print versions, creating a feast for the senses across every medium and allowing early access to eager subscribers.
As part of our ongoing Customer Stories series, we spent some time learning more about Vogue Fabrics and how Faber has transformed the company’s previous print-only catalog into an engaging digital format on Issuu. Read on to learn more about how businesses like Vogue Fabrics use digital publishing to redefine their customer engagement strategies.
Vogue Fabrics is a family-owned business started by my grandfather 70-plus years ago. Before World War II, my grandfather would drive around the western suburbs in his car. At the time, most households operated single-family cars. The men would take the cars for work each day, making it difficult for women to run errands far from home, so my grandfather would drive around honking his horn, and the women would come out with shopping lists of what they needed from the garment industry in Chicago.
My grandfather would essentially be their personal shopper and go purchase everything. After he came back from service in the war, he thought he’d use those connections he had built and open a small fabric shop in Evanston, Illinois. From that, the business grew to become a major 22,000-square-foot store that has turned into a destination spot. We’re one of the few independent retailers that specialize in color-coordinated fashion fabrics.
In 1991, our first catalog was designed by my dad. His vision was to be able to send out color-coordinated fabrics so if somebody wanted to make an outfit, all of the necessary fabric would already be available. The blouse, the jacket, the pants, it would all work together. We would essentially do the hard part of coordinating looks for our customers – all they have to do is sew.
Originally, the catalog was printed in black and white, and the fabrics were stapled to the page. In 2016, I took over the catalog and had a new vision for the publication. I had been wanting a color catalog, and this was my opportunity. Around that same time, I received an email from a sewing pattern company, and they had a flipbook. I thought this was awesome! So, I went to the URL and saw that it was hosted through Issuu. That landed me on the Issuu website, and I said, “I’m buying into this!”
It was a no-brainer for me because Issuu’s flipbook functionality was exactly what I wanted to make my catalog digitally available. Now, I have our catalogs embedded on my website with every new release, and then I’m able to utilize links in my marketing emails to notify our subscribers whenever we have a new one. I’ve been absolutely thrilled with it, and our customers have responded positively to it as well.
We produce a bi-monthly catalog of color-coordinated fashion fabrics tailored to the season, complete with patterns, an order form, and fabric samples to inspire sewists and dressmakers everywhere. Our digital catalogs also help educate the next generation of designers and sewists; we actually partner with fashion design colleges, high schools, and sewing centers to teach students about fabric types, color coordination, and sewing techniques. Instructors and design students alike are always excited when a new catalog is released, and they can pre-order fabrics for their next lesson plan or project.
We share our publications through a few different methods. A big one for us is through influencers we partner with, such as sewing teachers and sewing educators who travel around the country. We also partner with influencers on Instagram who produce content like sewing videos and gift guides.
Every time a new catalog is released, I always send an email blast. One email goes out to our loyal subscribers, letting them know that their catalog is on the way so they can look for it. The second email goes out to people who aren’t subscribers yet. We also have a dedicated product catalog that I originally printed to take to trade shows, but it is a great reference when someone asks via email for a product catalog we can email the Issuu link.
We’ve gotten lots of new members as well as new orders from Issuu; it’s become one of our top ways to drive revenue! Beyond the catalogs, I’ve been using Issuu for our sale flyers. These used to be for in-store items only, and they were printed and mailed to local clients. When I started using Issuu, I added sale collections from our website and began emailing the Issuu flyer to my entire email list, which boosted sales dramatically from our online customers who live too far to drive in for the sale. Most of them live 300+ miles away. We have some die-hard customers who will drive in from Detroit, Cleveland, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and beyond. Issuu boosted our sales from California, Florida, Texas, New York, and more.
Flipbook Catalogs: Vogue Fabrics takes their fabrics and turns them into an immersive experience that showcases seasonal picks, complete with flippable pages and easy ordering.
Shopping Links: Using external links, Vogue Fabrics takes their readers to other content on their own site to drive traffic to specific landing pages.
Website Embedding: Vogue Fabrics embeds content like catalogs and sale flyers directly on their website, creating a seamless online shopping experience for their customers.
We’d like to give a big thanks to Rogie for sitting down with us and sharing her story. We are lucky to work with such amazing customers!
If you haven’t tried it yet, give Issuu a test run and see if it is the right fit for your digital content publishing needs.