Preparing for a Shop Launch

We've been feeling the itch to refresh our shop and recently made the decision to go for it.

But deciding is the easy part - it's all the other pieces that make a project like this difficult. There's designs, timelines, logistics, and details to sweat. There are a lot of steps involved with a major shop update. This is the first of many blog posts documenting our process - we want to give you a closer look and how we work, so you can apply some of these lessons or ideas to your shop or product launch.


Big Cartel Shop Update 1

Let's start at the beginning. The conversation to update our shop seriously picked up steam back in March. Someone threw out the idea, but we had to decide on a couple things: What would this project bring in terms of value, not just for us, but more importantly our community? And how were we going to pull it off? We're a small team and our time is precious, so we met a couple times to discuss exactly what our goals were and how to make it happen.

We also started thinking about what our ideal product lineup would look like with this update. When you have to factor in design and manufacturing time, it's never too early to start sketching out ideas on a notepad.

We took inventory of our current shop and evaluated how items sold to help us get a better idea of what to pursue this time around. Another thing we had to consider was when we'd be launching our new products. As much as we might love a cozy hoodie, releasing a new one over the summer wasn't a great idea. Based off the information gathered, we wrote down a tentative product list to pass onto designers and collaborators when the time was right.


Big Cartel Shop Update 2

By early April, we narrowed down all of our ideas. We had a couple lengthy calls to flesh out a few things: the concept and design for the shop, how to handle collaborations with artists outside of Big Cartel, and what kind of products we want to sell this time around. Getting face time with your team is key. A shop has so many elements that need to be dialed in, and the only way to make sure everyone stays on the same page is by keeping the lines of communication open.

After a couple more weeks of discussing details, we made some critical decisions. Most notably, we selected the most important pieces to launch with - which meant cutting some ideas we really liked to keep only the best of the best - and a final theme for the the shop's overall concept and branding. Having a solid foundation for your product lineup and branding will keep you from wasting time on pieces that won't make the cut.


Big Cartel Shop Update 3

Throughout May we focused on planning. Getting a timeline and schedule in place to work from was huge for us. With so many moving parts, we needed a set schedule to work from to include design deadlines, photo shoots, content requirements, and more. This phase also included clearly defining which person on our team would handle which pieces.

I'm the project manager, making sure everyone's clear on what they're working on, getting the timeline ready, and setting meetings to stay on track. Nate, our designer, is handling the store's design and theme. Sarah, our community manager, is reaching out to collaborators and assisting with production. Andy, our content manager, is making sure we're on track to capture all the content we want to share with you throughout this process. And then there's our design team, who's creating new product designs for the shop, in addition to a few collaborations we have lined up.

It's important to not wait to define roles and objectives. If we didn't know what kind of products and designs and photos and videos we'd want to create, we'd spin our wheels and end up not doing quality work - or worse, not doing anything at all. Be realistic about what's reasonable for you to accomplish with the resources at hand.

What we learned and what's next

  • Have clear goals.
  • If you're working with a team, make sure everyone is on the same page and has a defined role.
  • Plan, plan, plan.
  • Be open to change.
  • Did I mention plan? Yes, your plan will inevitably change, but even having a rough timeline in place will help you stay on track and moving forward.

Big Cartel Shop Update 4

This month, we'll be working to finalize the shop's design, as well as starting the process of working with collaborators outside of Big Cartel. Stay tuned to the blog for more lessons we learn along the way. We'll also share sneak previews of our all-new shop on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat as we approach our launch.