Meet the Faces Behind Robert Kaufman Fabrics

Vicky Fields - Customer Service Representative

Please describe your position as a Customer Service Rep. What exactly are your duties?
My position requires me to attend to the accounts of specific sales representatives in the field. We check on their orders, make changes per their requests and perform other account maintenance as required. We input the orders, ensure the order is fulfilled to the specifications outlined in the order and then finally track those orders to make certain they arrive. I also take orders that come off the phones when a retailer or other customer type calls in.

How long have you been working for Robert Kaufman?
June 8th, 1989 was my first day here. I am approaching my 21st anniversary.

WOW! You've been here a while now. Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary here. Did you start in this position or did you start somewhere else?
Well, I started as a file clerk in 1989. About 6 months later I was moved to a data entry position. After about 3-4 years I was moved to Invoicing. After about another 3-4 months I was placed in Returns and Credits. After that, I was placed in a position called “Verifier” where I would check all the orders prior to the warehouse receiving them. I would verify price, color, pieces, and addresses were all correct. From there I was moved into Customer Service where I am presently located.

You've seen to have done a lot here. Describe your daily routine in your current position.
At 7:30am, the phone system starts up and we get our first calls of the day. We begin to take orders and start to verify what we have in stock. At about this time, we start entering the data into our system. If questions come in on the phones, we answer them as quickly as possible. Our outside sales reps usually start to call in and we modify their assigend accounts to their specifications. Once this is done, we will begin to coordinate with the shipping department on orders that need to be expedited or get the status updates on previous orders already sent over.

What is your biggest challenge?
That has to be interpreting what we hear from customers who call in describing a fabric. In a perfect world, our customers would have the SKU number handy and can read it back to us. But, chances are they just have a swatch of the fabric. Sometimes the description they give us is rather limited. My job is to help them find that fabric and hopefully let them order it from us. We try to learn as much as we can about all our products, but with a library that covers 10,000 prints, it’s rather tough to be able to remember all of them! But, we try!!!

What is your favorite part of your position here at Robert Kaufman Fabrics?
The people I work with day in and out. We are like a family here and I have a unique connection with so many people.

I am sure you have many fond memories working here. Tell me about one of them.
My first Christmas party here was a separate event between two buildings. But, the following year we had a party where the whole company came together. Before that we only knew people by the car they drove. Now, we had a party where we got to know everyone else. It’s been great Christmas party after party since that first combined party.

Do you have any funny stories from the past?
Absolutely! A few years ago I was sitting down for lunch at the bench outside. All of sudden, we begin to hear a galloping horse coming near us. It gets louder and louder and finally we see a horse running at us. All alone! We are in an industrial part of Los Angeles! What is a horse doing here!!! Of course, we run and hide behind some cars while the horse wanders around. The best part is that the whole event was captured on security cameras. The whole office watched the video and we just couldn’t help laughing at ourselves. Here are two women trying to eat lunch and all of a sudden scared off by a wild horse! What are the odds of that happening in Los Angeles?

Tell me about some of the changes you’ve seen in the industry over the years?
When I first started here, we sold so much bridal fabrics. We really supplied the bridal market with some amazing products. But slowly, we discovered the quilting industry and things changed. It was an incredible shift in our business and we have since become what I feel the best in creating and distributing of quilting fabrics. It is such an incredibly fascinating industry. We are fortunate enough to visit shops now and then to learn more about their business. They in turn can tell us one on one what they feel we could carry to help them sell more product. It’s always an insightful visit.