Cotton Cuts has used the subscription box business model to bring quilting fabric to enthusiasts and has proven to be a strong for-profit company. Cotton Cuts uses this model to reduce cost and operate efficiently while receiving monthly streams of continuous steady income. Cotton Cuts often hires disabled individuals when extra labor is needed, providing them with dignified work. Also, the company donates to kids in need with a portion of its profits. Customers can know their money is being put to good use for the community when shopping with Cotton Cuts.
St. John's University
Imagine successfully climbing through corporate ladders and glass ceilings only to take a risk for a startup business based on a hobby. That is what our entrepreneur, Kim has done with her business Cotton Cuts. After noticing that the company she worked for was systematically relocating jobs and many people were losing their careers she decided be more than just a bystander. She uses her creativity to incorporate her hobbies, a new age business plan involving subscription boxes and her empathy for others to create Cotton Cuts.
After doing some research, she found that there were no competitors of this form in the quilting market and used job creation as the “catalyst” for her company. She states that she realized that with her company, she can “create jobs for a community that I have lived in for a long period of time”. Using the help of a local company called Brazen, a support group for female entrepreneurs, she was able to “accelerate the startup process and was able to launch within 6 months”.
Kim continued to use job creation as a motivator for her company and incorporated the help of “Valley Industries...a sheltered workshop in Hazelwood, Missouri employing more than 200 workers with disabilities in a facility of more than 59,000 square feet.” Cotton Cuts also uses a percentage of profits to “help buy supplies and make quilts to donate to kids via the Heart Builder Network.”
The inspiration for Cotton Cuts came about 2 years ago when Kim was reading an article about subscription businesses and how they were flourishing. Naturally, she was intrigued coming from a corporate world where she saw that many people in her firm and her community lost their jobs. Kim was motivated to help in the creation of jobs, and so she decided to quit her own job to start Cotton Cuts.
Through Cotton Cuts, Kim creates jobs for people who love quilting and by providing dignified work to the intellectually challenged through disabled workshops that cut and fold the fabrics for shipping to customers. This ingenious idea creates efficiency in her production process without holding too much inventory on hand while simultaneously giving back to her community.
Kim is inspired by two things that keep her motivated throughout her journey: (1) the challenges and the excitement of running a company and (2) the fear of letting people down. This is synonymous to who she is and what her brand represents – being passionate and successful while being socially conscious. She wants to make sure she is exceeding expectations not just for her customers, but for her employees as well as people who work in the workshops as she says, “I believe in what we are doing, I believe in the outreach, and I believe in the personal challenges it’s giving me.”
Kim described the impact of Cotton Cuts by explaining how her innovative business model is unique and possible because of technology and communications advancements. Also, she stated how she believes it is important for every business to do good with their work while being profitable. Cotton Cuts’ business model affects the business world because it shows how a personalized subscription box can be utilized by several industries, including quilting, and can be done on a smaller scale. Furthermore, the balance of insourcing and outsourcing labor when needed while providing individuals with disabilities work is clever and innovative.
This also has a major effect on society as well. This gives those individuals dignity in work that they otherwise may not have had, or at the very least give them good work for a great quilting company. Quilting is a major industry. Kim said it is “bigger than golfing.” Therefore, consumers interested in quilting now have a convenient service that delivers to them pieces of fabric. Finally, the charitable donations made by Cotton Cuts shows a major commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by attacking poverty, reducing inequalities, and promoting decent work and economic growth. Cotton Cuts has done an incredible job with its resources to solve problems and balance its work intelligently to help others yet being innovative and profitable.
The hired disabled employees do not work full-time. However, they have been hired for work when needed and are always an option going forward for Cotton Cuts. The short-term effects of this decision were positive for the company. The extra work needed was completed while keeping costs down. Providing dignified work is a central theme for this business, and Kim stated how important job creation was to her when starting Cotton Cuts. While donating to kids via the Heart Builder Network, Cotton Cuts has seen its central theme fulfilled via hiring this group of workers when needed. The long-term effect of hiring disabled employees is having the option going forward to take on extra work as a business if needed to fulfill larger orders with the help of this labor source. Furthermore, Cotton Cuts is on a mission to help others via job creation and donations. Consumers shopping with Cotton Cuts should know that this company is working hard with its limited resources to achieve optimal job creation and helping others for the long-term.
Businesses should follow in Cotton Cuts’ footsteps if they too wish to be innovative and successful while helping a humanitarian cause. If anyone wants to achieve sustainable development goals, they first must have a sustainable business. To have a sustainable business, profitability and cost reduction must be prioritized. In this modern world of worldwide instant communication and technological advancement, the utilization of low budget marketing and operations such as social media marketing and insourcing labor is essential. Kim discussed this in detail and claimed in our interview, “it is important for entrepreneurs to utilize the advances in technology and use traditional business models when necessary. Finding that balance is so important.” For any entrepreneur, this advice of finding balance is what makes or breaks a business. The subscription box business has many moving parts from online personalization, customer acquisition, customer support, order fulfillment, shipping logistics. Problem-solving and understanding marketing are critical to the life of any business, and Cotton Cuts is no exception. Kim’s experience and story can be a valuable lesson to any business who looks to repeat this success on how to bring an innovative way of doing business, previously used by other industries, into a new sector and making it profitable. The quilting field is covered by Cotton Cuts, but this same business model can and should be applied to other areas of business. Utilizing the labor practices, donation strategy, and marketing plan effectively are vital in trying to imitate the success of Kim and Cotton Cuts.
Kim at Cotton Cuts truly ties in some of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in her business. The future is heavily based on innovation, fulfillment services, technological service and marketing, and more. However, one thing that has persisted and always will is being profitable as a business to sustain the work. Her work has brought such a positive impact to her community and with her years of experience with this business using a small amount of resources shows how replicable this business model is. Cotton Cuts is making a difference in society and in the business world.
The business benefit of Cotton Cut’s innovation comes from the personalization opportunity and accessibility of fabrics. During the interview, Kim explained how Cotton Cuts is not only different from its competitors, but what drives consumers to the company. She discussed the problem that quilters face, the experience in the stores are not inviting. Kim said, “People want to support their local brick and mortar stores, but people are just mean to them.” With Cotton Cuts they treat everyone the same and make sure their orders are right. Kim said they implement a “white glove” aspect that helps differentiate the brand from their competitors. Through access of fabrics online and through Cotton Cuts’ subscription box, consumers can receive and purchase different fabrics easily and engage with the online quilting community. With the personalization aspect of the subscription, consumers can select their preferences in fabrics. This feature allows people to receive fabrics they like and refrain from sending all subscribers the same product each month. This quality of the brand makes Cotton Cuts different from its competitors and help the business by driving consumers in their directions. Other quilting boxes contain other products, such as scissors, needles and other item that Cotton Cuts does not. Cotton Cuts boxes are filled with just fabric. Kim said that quilters have their favorite needles and thread, so to include them was not needed. She gives people what they really want, a box filled with fabric they can enjoy or can use to make something nice for loved ones. The experience Cotton Cuts offers is more about building a relationship with them than just a transaction.
The social benefit of the innovation does not only impact the workers that measure, cut and fold the fabric, but also the consumers that support the cause, making quilts for children. Cotton Cuts uses disadvantaged workshops to cut the fabrics for their subscription boxes to boost the efforts in giving people jobs. Also, with every membership, a percentage is taken out to buy supplies to make quilts for kids. The impact the brand wants to have is improving lives through a love of quilting. The decision to incorporate societal benefit as part of her business was an easy one for Kim as she believes that businesses need to be more than just for-profit. She said, “consumers want to spend the dollar, and have it go further than just the product they received.” With this quality subscription, members can do just that. In the future, Kim hopes to grow the business to sustain several jobs and grow the impact and awareness for quilts for kids and disabled workshops.
Kim Moos, Founder
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Chesterfield, MO, US
Business Website: http://www.cottoncuts.com/
Year Founded: 2016
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Cotton Cuts is a monthly subscription box for quilting fabric that includes various cuts, patterns and blenders. Their mission is to provide “dignified employment opportunities to the intellectually challenged and to those with other disabilities”. They also use a percentage of profits to help “help buy supplies and make quilts to donate to kids via the Heart Builder Network.”