What’s in a name?
Well, the “cotton” part is pretty obvious to us crazy about quilting, and the “chocolate” is...well, should be obvious also! The fun of sitting in the shop with a group of quilting buddies, checking out the latest fabrics, sharing stories and sampling favorite chocolate goodies just can’t be beat! As can be seen in our logo, a chocolate “kiss” is always available at our counter for that quick fix.
We like our store. A lot. And so do a lot of quilters. Why? Because we do it right. We make our store a place our customers want to go to. Not just to buy fabric and thread, but to see friends and share their projects with each other. For us, it’s not just about the product, it’s about the experience. In what other business do you get to know your customers so well that you often hug them, because they are not only your customers, they are your friends.
Quilt store reputations are built on word-of-mouth and we are always pleased to hear from our out-of-the-area customers that have been told they “just have to go to Cotton & Chocolate”. Why? Because it is simply one of the best quilt shops in Southern California! Best fabric selection. Best classes. Best staff. And one thing that is hard to create, but you know it when it’s there – the best store vibe. When you are in Cotton & Chocolate, it just feels good and that’s just something that money can’t buy.
Our shop does offer a wide variety of fabric styles for our customers. We have sizable fabric collections in flannels, reproductions, batiks, modern fabrics (e.g., Kaffe Fassett, Amy Butler), and we are one of the largest sellers of Moda fabrics in the region. We believe that our balance of variety and quantity, along with creative ideas in the way of samples, provides our customers with the kind of store that meets their ever-changing quilting needs. We also offer a nice variety of wool and stitchery products, kits, notions, books, and gift items.
Over the years, we have become known for our hand-pieced flower garden technique using Paper PiecesTM hexagons and have inspired hundreds of quilters around the country to enjoy this relaxing and addicting activity. We developed many exclusive patterns and even published a book called “Flower Garden Tips & Techniques - A step-by-step guide to making Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilts Using English Paper Piecing”. We always have a nice selection of hexagon-related products, including some beautiful quilt kits.
You can always find Marilyn demonstrating at the shop and quilt shows. Her time-saving techniques are so easy and fun, quilters are quickly becoming addicted to our modern spin on a traditional classic!
Clubs thrive at our shop. We have one of the largest Moda clubs (over 75 members) in the country. Some other popular clubs include a monthly Saturday Sampler program, with over 100 participants, an on-going McKenna Ryan club, Wool club, Stitchery, Little Women and Girl’s Night Out—where quilters come on a Friday night to finish UFO’s while enjoying snacks and juicy gossip. Perhaps we should add a Chocolate club?
We have teachers who really know their stuff and who love passing their knowledge on to others. Every four months, we send out our newsletter and class schedule packed with exciting classes and special events for our customers. Each session, we offer approximately 70 classes, ranging from introductory beginning classes to very advanced technique workshops. Our Saturday Sampler program sign-up occurs once a year with over 100 women lining up in front of the shop (rain or shine) at 7:00 am to get a chance to be a part of the program. Some chocolate bars and discount coupons keep everyone happy until registration starts at 10:00! Class sample quilts adorn our shop and provide a colorful backdrop that changes every four months. One of our most popular classes is our fabric dyeing workshop, where students can dye their own fabrics in jelly jars. This class takes place in our back parking lot, as students turn plain fabrics into explosions of color.
We have several teachers who produce exclusive patterns and kits for our shop. Our out-of-town customers always know to stop by and see what new things we have created. This also keeps our “regulars” coming back to the shop often.
Through all of this, there is the chocolate. Chocolate bars at the front register and our utterly decadent chocolate fountains, which provide the finest melted Belgian chocolate for those special occasions, such as our local quilt shop hop. On our shop anniversary, we also have hosted a chocolate dessert contest during which our staff delights in being official judges!
Outside of our wonderful shop, we have taken Cotton & Chocolate on the road. We regularly vend at several local shows, as well as some of the larger national shows including the International Quilt Shows in Houston and Long Beach. We have also been very successful regionally at the Road to California shows in Ontario, CA and the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, CA. Our English paper piecing demos at these shows have re-kindled the simple pleasure of hand piecing for many quilters. In addition to the paper piecing, we offer a variety of unique quilt kits and fabric packs.
As a suburb of Los Angeles, our city is blessed with cultural and historical opportunities galore. We are about four miles from the incredible Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, can boast about the headline entertainment found at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, and are just a handful of miles down the road from the Pacific Ocean and all that it offers. Annually, our Ventura County area draws tens of thousands to the original Strawberry Festival, and we have community fairs and events throughout the year.
Our shop is located in a community shopping center. Our location is ideal due to its excellent parking, easy access, a coffee shop nearby and pizza right next door. Who doesn’t love the scent of fresh baked pizza as it is delivered to the shop for our classes and events? Located just off the freeway, our setting is ideal for both our committed local quilters, as well as traveling visitors.
What the one thing is that our shop does better than other shops? That’s simple. We create a fun atmosphere where quilters can come and enjoy shopping and quilting. And we make sure we have the fabrics and products that reach out and grab our customers. After all, what is the point of spending all of that time and money cutting up perfectly good fabric and sewing it back together if it isn’t fun? As quilt shop owners, we enjoy building personal and lasting relationships with our customers. We make a great team.
Marilyn & Jerry Petersen, owners