We’ve republished the Q & A here for your reading pleasure. Many thanks to our new friends for taking the time to ask us a few questions!
Big Cartel was founded back in 2005. What was the original inspiration and drive behind setting up Big Cartel?
Big Cartel was created because our founders and their friends needed a simple way to sell their stuff online. Our founders, Eric and Matt, both came from music and art communities where a lot of indie artists, full of hustle, would hit a snag when it came to websites and specifically stores for their merch. A simple online store service seemed like a perfect solution to get some money into the pockets of young artists. They found themselves in the right place at the right time and worked lots of late nights to build the first version of Big Cartel.
Do you guys remember the first person to set up a shop with Big Cartel? Are they still a member?
We originally designed Big Cartel specifically for bands and record labels, but when we flipped the switch and launched Big Cartel our first shop was actually a young, energetic t-shirt designer named Rob Dobi. Rob was the perfect storeowner to help us work through our initial growing pains. We watched him work his ass off to build a successful brand as we did the same. He eventually moved his main brand over to another service to handle all the fulfillment he was doing, but he still keeps a store with us for unique, smaller-run items.
What advice would you give to a creative who is thinking about selling their products online?
Our advice would be to focus on the important stuff and offload everything else. Using a service like Big Cartel helps free up valuable time for an artist. We take care of all the complicated technical junk of building and maintaining a store, which allows artists to focus on the fun stuff: designing products, promoting their brand, and engaging their communities. Your time and resources are limited, so use them wisely.
Why would you recommend Big Cartel to our readers for selling their creative products?
We’ve worked extremely hard to become the obvious solution for artists ready to start making a living with their passions. We ARE artists trying to make a living, we’ve built this FOR artists trying to make a living, and we hold every decision we make up to that light. We sort of see Big Cartel as the lightest and most well organized tool belt for a complicated job. When you reach for the pliers, there’s just one pair, right where you thought they’d be.
How else would you advise our readers to get their products out to the world?
With the launch of a store comes promotion and marketing. Artists should start right away cultivating communities (Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook). Give your loyal friends and fans exclusive sketches and sneak-peeks of your upcoming products. Reward customers with discounts and always be ready to talk about the stuff you’re working on. If you love what you do, and you’re doing it for the right reasons, gushing about your products should be easy breezy. Balance nurturing online communities with local communities. Join craft fairs, approach boutiques and sell from your trunk. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’ll soon start to feel like you’ve become the king of your own empire (which, is sorta true).
What is the future for Big Cartel?
We feel like we’re just getting started. We’re starting to see and understand more clearly how we can help our community. We have a huge list of ideas, and an army of supportive artists helping that list grow. This year you’ll see us continue to add highly requested features and focus more on helping artists make a living doing what they love, whatever that entails.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers of BlogAndBuySale?
This past holiday season, as our stores dug in and pushed through their biggest sales time of the year, we put together a simple campaign to promote an important concept: #ShopIndie (shopindie,bigcartel.com). It’s something we feel very strongly about and hope that as more people become aware of the almost 200,000 unique, independent sellers on Big Cartel, we can help shift the concept of buying online toward one that supports more inspired products.