Spoonflower: DIY Design Meets Virtual Community
Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
When Stephen Fraser founded online fabric and paper shop Spoonflower in 2008, he probably didn't anticipate the staggering amount of attention the once small-time business would receive in the next six years. Based in Durham, NC, the company was created as a way for his wife to design her own wallpaper for their living room; since then, however, it has exploded into an international community where designers can create, buy, and sell their own work.
Between hundreds of paper and fabric designs to choose from and a blog that buzzes with quirky craft ideas, Spoonflower is a DIYer's dream: the website contains enough materials for a lifetime of weekend projects, from handmade notebooks and pants to backpacks shaped like cats. What really sets Spoonflower apart from other sites, though, is its limitless array of customization options. If users aren't satisfied with the selection of wallpaper, gift wrap, wall decals, and fabrics on the website, they can make their own—all by simply uploading an image, fixing it up with the site's editing tools, and deciding which kind of material to print it on. Users can then order their designs and, if they choose, display it on the website for other users to see—and, if anyone purchases it, make a 10% commission on the sale.
But the website is more than an online marketplace; it's a haven for designers to connect, find inspiration, and give feedback on each other's work. One of the site's most popular features is its weekly contests, where users are given a theme and compete to create the best design— victory that could result in $100 of store credit, exposure as designers, or in the case of this summer's Fabric8 2014 contest, a prize of $1000 and a contract with Robert Kaufman Fabrics. It's a way for accomplished and aspiring designers alike to stay in touch with the design community and showcase their work—and, for many, it's an opportunity to tap into and make a profit on talents they never knew they had.