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Meet the Reps: Demi, Mario, and Mario

Meet the Reps: Demi, Mario, and Mario

Written by: 
Linzee McCray

No, that's not a typo. Our final group of Moda reps includes two guys who share the same name. They and Demi are Moda's West Coast fabric reps. Read on to learn more about them.

First up is Mario Urbano. Mario's been with the quilting industry since 2002 and a Moda rep for the past six years. The first five he repped in southern and northern California, but last year he moved with his family to Portland, Oregon, where he covers territory from western Oregon and southwestern Washington up to Seattle. Moving to the Pacific Northwest was a dream of Mario's, as he was pretty sure it would be a great place to raise a family. So far, it seems like he was right.

What do you enjoy about being a Moda rep?

Mario U: The thing I enjoy the most is being out and about, meeting with creative people every day. I’ve tried working in an office behind a desk and it wasn’t for me. My customers are like family, many of whom I have known since I started in the industry 17 years ago. They’ve seen me grow up, get married, and start a family like their own sons and grandsons. 

Tell us about an interesting experience on the road.

Mario U: The worst thing to happen to me on the road was staying in a haunted hotel room. I woke up around 3 a.m. and all of the lights and TV were on in my room. I thought it was odd but figured I fell asleep with them all on. I turned off the lights and tried turning the TV off with the remote but it wouldn’t work. I walked over and pushed the button to turn it off the old-fashioned way. I tried going back to bed and the TV turns back on with the volume full blast and the lights flickering! I unplugged the TV but couldn’t go back to sleep, so I went to 24-Hour Fitness until the sun rose and checked out ASAP. I haven’t stayed there since. 

Tell us about a typical day in the life of a Moda rep. What time do you hit the road? How many shops do you see in a day? What do you eat (picnics or restaurants or fast food on the run)?

Mario U: Typically, I have a cooler with lunch and snacks in my back seat. Moda provides us with great new aprons at every Quilt Market so I use them as bibs while I’m driving. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t just wear them into the shop. My go-to spot on the road is Starbucks because they have the cleanest bathrooms and good food options and I can use the app to order before I arrive. This helps when I get stuck in traffic or I’m running short on time. My favorite snacks are plantain chips because they go great with any kind of dip: peanut butter, guac, or hummus. My other guilty pleasure is peanut butter stuffed pretzels from Trader Joe’s. 

How do you pass the time while you drive?

Mario U: I listen to mostly NPR podcasts or whatever new Audible parenting book my wife has chosen for me. Marketplace and Make Me Smart are by far my favorite podcasts. 

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

Mario U: Other than finding new foods to try, I travel with my mountain bike in the summer/fall and my snowboard in the winter/spring to stay active. It’s a great way to explore the outdoors and many of the rural areas I travel to. I regularly plan trips together with my family so we can explore our new home in Oregon and Washington together. My daughters love visiting my customer’s shops and since they don’t have grandparents who live nearby, they refer to many of the shop owners endearingly as “grandma.” Our favorite place to visit so far is Bend, Oregon, and my girls aren’t happy if I go there without them. 

What’s do you wish people knew about being a fabric rep?

Mario U: I wish everyone could understand just how challenging our jobs can be. We manage through traffic, bad weather, and speeding tickets and then leave all of our baggage at the door while lugging in a few suitcases full of samples. Managing time and appointments is crucial and knowing how long it will take to get to each shop along the way doesn’t always go as planned. Knowing the fabric collections, the patterns, and all of the other products: that’s the easy part!

Next up is Demi Hayward, who's been a Moda rep for a little over a year. Her territory includes Southern California as far north as King City to as far south as National City-San Diego. She's on the road five days a week.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

Demi:Building relationships and helping my customers to flourish and grow their business. As a sales representative, my job extends far past selling. I feel personally connected to every account. I make every effort to provide my customers with the very best service I can offer. I take time with my accounts to learn about their successes and their failures. I respond, answering questions, providing advice when needed, and sharing merchandising ideas and selling strategies.

Tell us about a typical day in the life of a Moda rep. What time do you hit the road? How many shops do you see in a day? What do you eat?

Demi: I typically hit the road after I drop off my boys at school around 8:30 a.m. I try to see two shops a day. When I am able to fit in a third, I will often do so. Some days I just see one account. I love going to Starbucks. My new addiction is the iced Caramel Cloud Macchiato. If you haven't tried one, you need to. It’s delicious—the perfect mix of coffee and sweet!!!

Share a tip for spending so much time on the road.

Demi: My Waze app helps me to navigate around the busy streets and highways of Southern California, providing me with the quickest routes to drive. I use it everywhere I go.

How do you pass the time while you drive?

Demi: On my drives I listen to Audible books on tape. In this past year I have gone through almost 30 books. I love listening to a good story. Audible makes my drives so much more enjoyable, especially when sitting in traffic! Favorites books to date are Where the Crawdads Sing, Educated, All the Light We Cannot See, and The Nightingale.

What do you do for fun when you're not on the road?

Demi: I have two boys ages 8 and 10, so when I'm not on the road I am on the field, literally, going to their games and practices. Right now, it's soccer season and FNL flag football season. I love watching them play competitive sports! When were not on the field, I'm at home enjoying time with my family and friends.

You could probably sell a lot of things—why have you chosen fabric? Do you sew?

Demi: I love the quilting industry, which is probably why I have dedicated 20 years of my life to it. What I admire most about quilters is their connection to each other, and their compassion. Quilters are always coming together to make a difference in the lives of the people around them. I think that's what we all should strive toward. Why fabric? Simply stated, fabric is at the core; it is the foundation of sewing, whether you are making a quilt, a garment, a pillow. Did I forget to mention it's pretty? Who doesn't like to sell pretty things?

What's something you wish people knew about fabric reps, or about you?

Demi: I really care about the people I work with. I always strive to do my very best.

Finally, meet Mario Navar. Mario's territory includes Northern California, southern Oregon, which includes the Grant's Pass/Medford area, and northern Nevada. Because his shops are far apart, it can take an average of an hour or two to get to an appointment. His farthest distance is between Eureka, California, and Oregon, which is about a five-hour drive.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do? 

Mario N:I love that I manage my own time and help all quilt shops carry the best fabric in the industry. Dealing with great people just makes my job that much easier, seeing shops succeed, and helping with that gives me some gratitude. 

Tell us about a typical day in the life of a Moda rep. What time do you hit the road? How many shops do you see in a day? What do you eat?

Mario N: It all depends on what time and where my appointment is, but I get up at 6 a.m., work out, then eat breakfast. Even if it's something small breakfast is a must. as there are times when an appointment can go on and the next thing you know its 1 p.m. and you have nothing in your stomach. When I have time between appointments I eat in places like Chili's, Chipotle, Big Bear Diner, etc. These places are reasonable in price for my budget.

How do you pass the time while you drive?

Mario N: You do a lot of thinking on the road and talk to yourself at times. I have Pandora that I use so I can hear what I'm in the mood for, and even though I think I'm a horrible singer, I sing to stay awake on the road. I like to switch it up here and there and listen to country, hip-hop, and soft rock.

What do you do for fun when you're not on the road? 

Mario N: I have a lovely wife Saray and two boys: Damian is 15 months and Mario, Jr. is 4 years. We love to hike and take our kids out to spend quality time together. Oh, I almost forgot about my other kids, LOL. I have a 6-year-old male English Lab named Bruin and 3-year-old female mix terrier named Lady.

So there you have it. The final chapter in our Meet the Reps series. I don't know about you, but I'm in awe of what a caring group of folks they are, so diverse in their backgrounds but united in their love of helping shops bring you Moda's latest and greatest fabrics. A big thanks to all the reps for their mighty efforts!

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