Gas station owner ventures into unlikely industry
BY ASHOURINA SLEWO
From gas stations to fabric stores, Sean Jonna, owner of Fabric Land Outlet in Royal Oak, brought an arsenal of knowledge about both business and fabrics when he decided to open Fabric Land in December of 2015. After 15 years of owning and operating a gas station with his brother, Jonna decided that his time as a gas station owner was over and a new venture slowly formed.
This venture, however, only came after Jonna took a job at a manufacturing warehouse in Troy. Jonna was thrust into a world of fabric without any prior knowledge of the ins and outs of the fabric industry. “They made all special event linens; for weddings - anything you would see at weddings - table cloths, dinner napkins, the backdrops,” said Jonna. “I was hands on with all these materials. It was very overwhelming when I first walked in, but I had a great boss and he taught me everything about fabrics.”
Through the help of his boss, Jonna was able to quickly learn all there was to learn about the world of fabrics. His time at the manufacturing warehouse allowed for Jonna to nurture an ever-growing love for the fabric industry, sparking a drive that would continue on to the inception of Fabric Land Outlet.
“It was some very good hands on experience and I started falling in love with it,” said Jonna. “Cutting fabric, watching them come to life was so exciting for me because you’re looking at fabric and it’s laid out on the table and then after the cutting and sewing, it’s now a table cloth or now it’s a dress and it’s just really cool.”
In preparation for opening Fabric Land Outlet, Jonna pushed himself to become familiar with other aspects of the industry by going to different vendors from all over the country. Equipped with this knowledge, Jonna has been able to grow his business substantially, with hopes of continuing with the growth.
Jonna aspires for Fabric Land Outlet to be a “one stop shop” in which he will have anything his customers may need, going above the call of duty to make sure customers leave his store satisfied. As well, Jonna plans to begin sewing lessons, designed around both adults and children.
“Prior to working at the special event linens manufacturing warehouse, I hadn’t had any experience with fabric and, believe it or not, I still don’t know how to sew,” said Jonna. “I plan to take advantage of our sewing classes that will be starting in the near future. Anyone at any sewing level can rest assured they’ll receive the best advice and guidance in their next project.”
Jonna is dedicated to providing a service that not only has been lacking in Michigan, but also a service that is different than that of the scarce fabric stores currently present in the state. His commitment to exceptional customer service and low prices for quality products is what sets Fabric Land Outlet apart.
“Our pricing and selection definitely sets us apart from other fabric stores,” said Jonna. “We’ve been getting great reviews on social media. I’m really, really big on good customer service. We treat everyone that walks in like family.”
For a number of reasons, Jonna firmly believes that fellow members of the Chaldean community should give Fabric Land Outlet a try. “The most important thing is supporting one another. If we want to keep building our community we have to shop at and support our businesses,” said Jonna. “I always go out of my way to shop at and support Chaldean owned businesses. Another reason is saving money. My fabrics are high quality and a fraction of the price of competitors. Another reason for shopping at my store is the selection. You won’t find most of the things in my store anywhere else in town. You don’t have to fly to New York to get great fabric.”
With almost two years under his belt, Jonna is positive that Fabric Land Outlet has a bright future as he brings lower prices and higher quality to the table. “Every week we’re bringing in new fabrics; our store is growing and getting busier,” said Jonna. “We’re trying to make it a one stop shop for everyone and for every need.”