Big Cartel Blog

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April 16th’s downtime

Yesterday was a doozy. A lot of you had a really stressful day, (for those of you who are unaware, we had a real bummer of an outage) and we’re very sorry. While sorry doesn’t quite cut it, we want you to know exactly what happened.

At around 1 o’clock, 2 of our 3 database servers broke down. This immediately sent our engineers and support staff into a complete all-hands-on-deck fight to get things fixed, while trying desperately to keep you informed. Downtime is unfortunately an unavoidable part of doing business online, and we do our very best to make sure it’s a rare occurrence, but it still breaks our collective heart when it does happen.

We know how important that time was to you, missing out on possible sales, wondering what that looks like for your brand. Being artists ourselves, we feel that pain. More important, though, is the trust you have in us. We deal with your livelihood, or at very least, that important extra income you use to make your life a little bit better. That trust is very important to us and we’re deeply sorry for the downtime yesterday. We’ve got some techy answers for those of you who want the dirty details, but for the rest of you, know that with each of these issues, we learn volumes, tighten our ship, and become a closer and more efficient team.

That may sound a bit like a silver lining, but we’d actually like to propose another: you! Even in the midst of a hectic situation, which was obviously very frustrating, you came through with words of encouragement, charm, and even a little bit of humor to keep us going. You’re an amazing community and we’ll gladly take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your support.

In the span of 2.5 hours, we sent over 400 apology emails asking for patience, 158 tweets pointing to a live status page, and fully recovered 2 naughty database servers (who—we can assure you—went to bed without supper and are grounded the ENTIRE summer).

Isla: Ernesto Bazan

Photographer Ernesto Bazan lived in Cuba for 14 years, taking breathtaking photos of the people, ocean, and everyday life. He recently re-discovered a collection of panoramic photographs taken 2001-2006, and is now working on a new book.

Because Ernesto self-publishes his books, he could use a little help with this major undertaking. Check out his Kickstarter to give the man a hand.

In Ernesto’s words, “The more I live… the more I feel that the more generous we are with our fellow beings the more blessings we will get back.”

Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use — do the work you want to see done.
Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist. (In SLC? Come to his talk tomorrow.)

Recap: Rails Girls

We recently had the pleasure of gathering with over 120 enthusiastic women and 50 coaches for the first ever Rails Girls SLC. This event was very close to our hearts: Big Cartel is a Ruby app, built from scratch out of a drive to make something awesome with no expectations of what it would become (to read more on that, give this article from our founder a good read). It’s exciting for us to expose more people to a coding language that can open up so much possibility. If attendees decide to pursue a career in tech and start to even out the gender gap, even better.

Because this was such a special project, we needed the perfect venue. The Ladies Literary Club headquarters was constructed in 1877 to provide a home for the Ladies Literary Club, an organization created by women in Utah to provide opportunities to meet, share ideas, educate one another and inspire cultured debates. With a history like that, we knew we’d found the perfect spot for Rails Girls.

In addition to some solid one-on-one time with coaches learning the basics, attendees heard the incredibly likable Hannah Bottalla yell f*#k from the podium. They got a pep-talk from Susan Petersen, the mastermind behind Freshly Picked, and much-needed encouragement from Big Cartel developers Lee Jensen and Andy Borsz.

With such an overwhelming response to our first Rails Girls, we’re already cooking up some ideas for the next workshop. If you weren’t able to attend, we hope you’ll join us in the future.

Sign up now to be notified about our next Rails Girls workshop »

If you were one of the attendees or coaches, make sure and stay connected with your pals from the RG front lines by joining the Rails Girls SLC Google group »

“Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.”, a year long project created by Scott Patt, has caught our eye with its brightness and wit.

Big Cartel is Heartbleed free

As you’ve likely heard in the news and social media, a major vulnerability, dubbed Heartbleed, was recently discovered in the technology that encrypts much of the data on the internet. Like many other companies, we took immediate action to fix the vulnerability in our own system.

We’re happy to report that Big Cartel is Heartbleed free.

Big Cartel doesn’t store any sensitive credit card information on our systems, we leave that to PayPal and Stripe. We also have no evidence or reports of malicious behavior, but we do encourage you to change your password just in case (in the Settings > Password section of your store admin).

If you’d like to learn more about the Heartbleed bug, visit If you have any other questions or concerns about your Big Cartel store, please let us know.

Ferocious Quarterly heads to Creative South

Ferocious Quarterly is a curated publication that collects illustrators, designers, short-fiction authors and written text. For this special workshop edition, our own Dan Christofferson, along with friends Dan Cassaro and Nate Utesch, took the show on the road, all the way to Weapons of Mass Creation in Cleveland.

The issue focused on a palindrome: Go hang a salami. I am a lasagna hog. Attendees divided into four chapters and played a game of telephone, alternating between letterers and illustrators to watched the phrase morph into things we could never imagine. Those chapters will be organized, cleaned up a bit and - coming soon- be presented as a limited-edition “workshop” issue available here:

Everyone had such a great time, that we decided we had to do it again. So tomorrow, the gang gets back together at Creative South. If you’re hanging out in Columbus, Georgia, stop by and say hi. We’re giving away half-hugs for free.

Giveaway: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Update: The winners have been chosen and contacted, so this giveaway is closed. Keep your eyes peeled here for more contests in the future. And thanks to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and everyone who entered!

We still have stars in our eyes from last week’s Living Room Show with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Alec played for a sold out crowd, and we’re not ashamed to admit we got chills once or twice.

We took the opportunity to beef up the record collection at HQ, and even got a few extra items to give away.

The loot

If you’re one of our two winners, you’ll receive some of the items listed below. We had to arm wrestle some fans for a few items, so we hope you’re as excited as we are.

Poster - Letterpress printed by Hatch Show Print to celebrate the band’s 2007 tour, this show poster gives you serious fan cred.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah record - The band’s debut album is still solid after all these years. The enthusiasm and Alec’s trademark raw vocals will have you out of your seat and doing some serious toe-tapping.

Some Loud Thunder cd - CYHSY’s second album is more serious than the first, but they keep on coming up with interesting lyrics and melodies. It’s no wonder Rolling Stone named “Satan Said Dance” as one of their “100 Best Songs of 2007.”

Hysterical cd - With their third album, CYHSY continues to refine their sound with a fun, upbeat feel and those one-of-a-kind vocal tracks.

Sweatshirt - Unisex XL, screen printed with some killer artwork, and as soft as your favorite blankey. Wear it proudly.

To enter

Show us the first album you owned (think Throw Back Thursday) on Twitter or Instagram. Tag @bigcartel and add in the hashtag #pickmeBC. We’ll pick two winners at random by this time on Friday, who will each receive a selection of some of the items mentioned above. Good luck!

Mini-documentary with Saucesome

Watch the new buzz video now »

Meet Cory and Ryan, the guys behind Saucesome: a small company born when two traveling musicians bonded over Mexican food, and—finding that musical notes and flavors had quite a lot in common—partnered to craft the perfect hot sauce.

We’re completely humbled that after 8 years and 500 thousand stores, we’re still the right solution for pals like Cory Gray and Ryan Stively to follow a passion and try something new. We especially loved investigating their process, learning how they got started, and figuring out how to make their lives a little easier.

So sit back, grab a burrito, and hit play. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the hot sauce.