We spent spring break visiting my sister, Rachel, and her family in Durham, North Carolina. Spoonflower is headquartered there and I got in touch with the marketing team a few weeks before my trip to see if I might come for a visit. We scheduled a podcast interview with co-founder Stephen Fraser and they invited me to lunch as well. So exciting!
Before I went I watched this short video to get a sense of the place:
On Tuesday afternoon Charlie took the older girls to tour the Duke campus and my sister took Josephine and I headed out for the afternoon.
Spoonflower is located in an office park in Durham. They’ve moved several times as the company has grown and they’re getting ready to add even more space.
You enter into an adorably decorated lobby full of Spoonflower fabrics, wrapping papers, and wallpapers in action.
Past the lobby is a large open office space. Over 100 people work at Spoonflower and it’s pretty bustling. Lots of computers and lots of fabric.
From the office area you can see onto the printing floor where crews work 24 hours a day 7 days a week printing fabric. They have two new digital printers made by an Israeli company. Each printer is large enough to park your car inside.
The majority of Spoonflower fabrics are printed on these smaller printers, but everyone is clearly excited about the big ones.
Three things are really struck me as I toured the facility. The first is how little dye digital printing uses in comparison to other printing processes.
The second is how little waste there is. No dye runoff. Any misprints are shredded and sent off to be reused for things like carseat fill.
And third is how much organization is involved in keeping hundreds of thousands of tiny orders straight! The average Spoonflower order is a yard or two of fabric. Many people order multiple small cuts that are printed throughout the day. Plus some customers pay for rush shipping. Keeping track of it all is a huge job!
Every order gets a custom barcode that’s printed right onto the fabric. Spoonflower software engineers have developed a customized system for tracking and filling orders. It’s impressive! Orders are hand cut and wrapped and each receipt is signed with a cheerful note from a staffer.
After my tour co-founder Stephen Fraser took me and two members of the marketing team out for lunch. When we returned to the offices Stephen and I sat down and recorded a podcast episode. I’ll air the show on Monday, May 4.
Like my trip to Craftcation last month, visiting Spoonflower was like seeing my online life in real life. I so appreciated the warm welcome!