Stephanie sporting a blouse made using C’est la viv™ garden lark collection_wildflowers
Week 6 of the “Meet Spoonflower” series brings us to Stephanie Anton, who came to us almost two years ago to work in our fledgling shipping department. While there, Stephanie whipped our shipping operations into shape, transforming our system from the stamp-licking phase it was in then to the efficient machine that it is today. Since then, Stephanie has moved into the engineering department to learn coding and work on the website itself. Read on for more about Stephanie’s transition here at Spoonflower!
Can you talk a little bit about your previous job experiences and educational background?
I have a BA in Humanistic Studies and French. Humanistic Studies is a liberal arts mesh of religion, sociology, literature and history. The idea was to figure out who we are in the Western world based on who we were in the past. I love history and books so it was the perfect combination of my interests! French was a passion of mine and now I get to help with the occasional translation of French customer service requests.
Spoonflower is my first “real” job out of college unless you count student positions in IT helping people with their computers, or my interim job at Barnes & Noble between finishing up school and finding Spoonflower.
What made you want to work at Spoonflower back then? What were you hired to do, and what was your job like when you first started?
I was working at Barnes & Noble at the time and was a little burnt out working retail. I went online trying to find something that I could do that would be fun and would speak to my craft-y and creative soul. Amazingly, the one job position I found in the Triangle was at Spoonflower for a cut, pack and ship position. I never thought that I would find such an awesome company like Spoonflower smack dab in the middle of North Carolina! I always expect such companies to be in New York or California. I immediately wanted to work at Spoonflower because, even though I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, working at such a creative, start-up company was my unknown dream come true.
I was the first cut, pack and ship person hired, and my days were spent processing all the orders for that day (with help from Chad and Darci). I was also trying to figure out how our shipping operations should work. When I started, Chad drove all of our addressed packages to the post office to buy postage. We were at the point where we were shipping too much for that to work for much longer. We were in Mebane at that time too, so depending on whether it was summer or winter, I was either eating Popsicles non-stop to keep cool or huddling by our heater, Grendel, with my fingerless gloves. (I knit them specifically so I could continue to cut fabric in the cold.)
You’ve recently moved from shipping into engineering. How have things changed for you and what sorts of things are you working on now?
Five months ago, I was cutting, packing and shipping fabric all day, plus screening resumes and training new employees. A lot has changed since I’ve moved into engineering. Gart has been a great teacher and I’ve had the opportunity to go to a couple classes. I’ve gone from never having done any coding in my life to helping roll out new features, fixing bugs and taking on projects of my own. It’s all been very exciting and I think I may have found another nerdy calling outside of history and books.
A typical day for me now includes helping customer service with their more tech-y questions and working on whatever project is on my plate. Right now, I am more focused on design and writing code for everything you can see. I split my time between working with our graphic designer, Caroline, on the look of the site, and living in the same code base as Chad getting stuff to function.
How do you think Spoonflower has changed since you’ve been here?
Spoonflower has changed a lot since I started. Environmental changes are huge and I am really thankful we now have temperature control. Another change is our process and how many people it takes to keep the gears turning. Solo, I used to cut, pack and ship all the orders in a day and now we have five people doing that every day.
What sorts of creative things do you enjoy in your spare time?
Before starting at Spoonflower, my craft of choice was knitting. Now with all the fabric surrounding me, my creative goal has been to create a completely Spoonflower wardrobe. I’ve made about 30 pieces of clothing for myself. I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up like a crazy pattern lady: Spoonflower shirt, skirt, leggings, and sweater all at once. I’m not that crazy yet, but I see it in my future!
Do you have a favorite design or designer on the site right now?
Don’t make me pick a favorite! I am constantly following new people and going through the shop to find new favorites. I’m kind of a favorite hoarder. The minute I find a new design, it’s my favorite for that moment only to change when I find another. Since I mainly am making clothes, I’m always looking for small prints–I was so excited about the ditsy contest!–and things that are abstract enough looking to not look strange on an adult.
If I had to pick some constant faves, Anda’s line drawings are amazing, and I’m also a fan of Lauram’s work. I’m especially in love with Anda’s black/white arrow design and need to make something out of it soon!
How about a favorite base fabric?
If you had asked me a couple months ago, I would have fallen all over the organic cotton sateen, but the cotton/silk has won my heart. It’s just gorgeous and I love that I can just throw it in the washing machine with everything else I have.
I know you worked on design tagging and searching recently. Did any tags jump out at you as particularly surprising or otherwise noteworthy?
You’ve only seen the beginning of tagging! We have in the works some fantastic ideas about how to improve tagging, and I’m really excited about them. There are several projects ahead of that, though.
I did briefly look through a long list of tags used on Spoonflower, but I wasn’t overly surprised by any. We have such different designs and talented designers, I’m pretty sure that the Spoonflower community could make any obscure fabric idea into something awesome!
Is there any particular dream feature you’d like to add to Spoonflower at some point down the road (even if it’s not actually feasible from an engineering standpoint)?
All of the dream features I can think of are things we have talked about doing, but we just haven’t had the time. With only the three of us–and there have only been that many of us for that past several months!–it can get frustrating that we have so many ideas and know what needs improving, but have only so much time in the day. So, maybe my dream feature would be some magical ability to code twice as fast or just make the process of adding new features speed up, like fast forwarding through a movie. Sometime it’s tedious work, but I’m always so excited when we get to release something new. Of course, then we start working on the next new thing and the process starts all over again!
Complete this sentence: If I could only _________ at Spoonflower, _________ would be much _______.
If only I could hand deliver every package at Spoonflower, seeing the world would be much easier.
Is there anything else that you want Spoonflower readers to know about you?
I love working at Spoonflower and am thankful of the opportunities this company has given me. I never thought I’d find such an amazing place to work. In turn, this company wouldn’t be what it is today without the awesome community of Spoonflower designers. I am constantly amazed at what an amazing community we have, and I hope as an engineer I’ll get to work more and more making Spoonflower into what our community hopes and dreams.