It’s been long time since I took to the blog to talk about what’s happening behind the scenes at Spoonflower. But we have big news this week that I wanted to share personally, as it represents a major milestone for a company that started seven years ago on my dining room table, when Kim and I (and Gart and his wife, Anne) spent many late nights cutting cotton swatches and stuffing them into envelopes to send to the patient souls who had signed up to try out the world’s first web site for designing your own fabric.
North Bridge Growth Equity, a terrific investment firm based in Boston, is joining Spoonflower as a partner to help fuel our growth into new products and directions, as well as our first formal expansion into other parts of the world. Also participating in the investment is the talented team behind Bull City Venture Partners, company based here in our hometown of Durham, North Carolina. We could not be more excited about the news and the opportunities it represents. [You can find the formal press release about the investment here.]
Our original office was a one-printer operation in an un-airconditioned old sock mill, where our first employee, Danielle, and I used to spend lots of time trying to coax uncooperative machines to get just a few usable yards of beautiful fabric out the door. But today, in our lovely, climate-controlled HQ here in Durham, we’ve got a team of 150 talented and dedicated people and a print room that hums around the clock, every day of the week. We’ve built up our fabric, wallpaper, and gift wrap-printing factory to such an extent that it recently drove our office staff — engineering, accounting, customer service, product, marketing and HR — right out of the old suite and into a new one across the parking lot (where you can, by the way, find lots of lovely wallpaper and fabric created by the Spoonflower community on display).
Having a bigger factory means that we now no longer have to sweat turnaround times, but it also frees us to pursue cool products and concepts, like Sprout Patterns, a new site for cut and sew patterns that launches this fall (be sure to sign up for their email list!). Over the next year or so, expect to see other exciting new projects that have in common with Spoonflower a powerful digital textile printing platform and a focus on design and community.
Another exciting component of our announcement today is that we’re finally taking concrete steps to support our European customer community in the form of an office in the happening city of Berlin, Germany. After getting our feet on the ground in the Berlin office, at some point in the not-to-distant future we hope to be able to show off a website that allows you to order fabric by the meter and in a language or two other than English!
There are many plans afoot (including our new book, which comes out next week!), but another element of the news today should not go overlooked, which is the addition of a handful of very smart, talented folks to our board of directors. North Bridge is a company that has a lot of experience supporting and guiding growing companies like Spoonflower, and working with Holly Maloney and Russ Pyles from North Bridge so far has already been a pleasure and an education. Bull City Venture Partners consists of two individuals, David Jones and Jason Caplain, who we have known almost since Spoonflower first started and who have, unfailingly, been a great source of support, knowledge and advice. Our merry band of fabric lovers has a lot of work to do to make the most of the success we’ve had up until now, and we’re lucky to have found the perfect team to help us get where we want to go.