Connecting with Big Cartel at Indie Fest 2019

As a remote company, Big Cartel understands the importance of seeing your coworkers IRL, and not just for getting a load of their sweet new haircut 💇‍♀️. Connecting face to face keeps relationships strong, and when you foster that you’re bound to create better work together, right? With this in mind, Big Cartel employees have a few set meetups throughout the year, specifically: individual team meetups in the spring and fall, a company-wide meetup in the summer, and our holiday party in the mountains every winter. Of particular importance is that summertime gathering. We call it Indie Fest.

The format of Indie Fest has ranged from Big Cartelers working together in person for a couple days (back when there were just four of us!) to a weeklong stay at a resort in Ojai, California. Through all its iterations, one thing remains constant: this is an event rooted in connection. This year’s Indie Fest just might have been The Best Indie Fest Yet™️ so we couldn’t let 2019 go by without sharing a bit about why we do this and what made it particularly special this year.

bigcartel 0611 Photography by Lindsey Stewart

To make sure we were keeping Indie Fest fresh and beneficial for the whole company, we took some time to revisit all the reasons behind why we do this every year. Getting together allows us to inspire each other, celebrate accomplishments, and cultivate a sense of belonging in each one of us. All in all, the underlying theme is connection. Connecting with each other, our work, and the community of super talented folx we’re supporting every day. With that Why under our belts, we were able to plan a week that was truly valuable for each of us. Here’s how it went down:

Connecting with each other

Previous Indie Fests were largely planned behind closed doors, with Leadership and a select few determining how the time was spent. This year our CEO Anna Brozek has shifted the way Big Cartel works so that nearly every decision is met with a more holistic approach. With that in mind, anyone who wanted to help plan was welcome to do so, and each of our teams (Support, Product, and Community) were in charge of the schedule for a day.

In addition to just physically being together at HQ each day, we had group dinners, toured the local Natural History Museum, and allowed for plenty of free time to catch up, get to know the new people we’ve hired this year (and there are quite a few!), and make inside jokes to last for years to come. There’s something pretty special about looking at a room full of 35-ish very different humans and knowing firsthand that we share a common bond, the passion for helping artists sell their work.

Connecting with our work

It wouldn’t make sense to have a weeklong meetup and not touch on the core reason we’re all together- work. We opted for fewer traditional presentations this year and found more creative ways to talk about what’s on our plate. People across all our teams are tackling projects together all the time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone knows exactly what’s going on behind the curtain of another’s job.

Each team shed light on their roles in different ways. The Product team facilitated an abbreviated “Design Sprint” exercise so everyone could help find solutions for upcoming development and design projects. The Support team split everyone up into small groups to answer help tickets. Leadership participated in a Q+A panel to discuss where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Having every team actively involved and represented in the week’s activities reminds us that we’re all in this together, and we’re here to support one another.

bigcartel 0789 Photography by Lindsey Stewart

Connecting with our community

Big Cartel wouldn’t exist if people weren’t using our product, so creating and maintaining meaningful relationships with those people is paramount. We decided to take our relationship with some of our users to the next level 💍, and invited some artists to come out and attend a mini-conference held at our HQ. We booked speakers who all had a connection to Big Cartel, premiered our fifth Make Something video, and of course, ate a ridiculously tasty dinner together.

But we didn’t just connect with our Big Cartel community. We set aside time to connect to the communities in which we live. After participating in a handlettering class, we used our new skills to decorate delivery boxes for the local food bank and make birthday cards for incarcerated Trans folx through Trans Pride Initiative. We also set aside time for folx to introduce the rest of the crew to the charitable organizations they are passionate about.

bigcartel 0623 Photography by Lindsey Stewart

When the whole company is feeling connected, the drive and ability to create meaningful work is heightened. We keep Indie Festing to keep those feelings alive. So when we can’t be together, we can pull from these experiences and stay focused, happy, and excited for what comes next.

For more on the folks and culture at Big Cartel, check out the posts under our Team tag.

Stephanie Perry

Marketing at Big Cartel. Equal parts road tripper and deviled egg eater.

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