One of the best tools artists and musicians have been utilizing heavily for the past 5-6 years has been the shop feature from Big Cartel. Prior to sites like Bandcamp allowing you to sell albums directly to the consumer through their program, most bands had to pay enormous fees to set up their own shop on a website, that depending how you set it up, may not work a lot of the time. Big Cartel helped change that system to offer a third party solution for bands who just didn't have the scratch to afford a normal shop. The company has steadily been growing since it came around almost a decade ago, including setting up one of its offices here in downtown SLC. Today we catch up with our old friend Dan Christofferson, the Community Director of the SLC branch, to talk about the company's growth. (All pictures courtesy of Big Cartel.
Gavin: Hey Dan, first off, how have you been since we last chatted?
I’ve been great, man! A lot has happened in the past few years. Staying busy, getting ready to have a son, eating breakfast outdoors as often as I can.
Gavin: How are things going for you in your art career lately and what have you been working on?
They’ve been great. I’m really lucky to be included in so many great personal projects lately. On top of select freelance illustration and design projects, I’ve been working really hard the past few years participating in a number of group shows along the west coast. I’ve built some relationships with some very supportive galleries and love the community of artists I’ve connected with nationally. It’s also a great feeling to know there is just as much talent here in SLC as there is in any of these cities.
Gavin: Are there any major projects you have on the horizon or just working as you normally do?
I’m working on a children’s book right now. My wife wrote a beautiful short story, and I’ve slowly been creating characters and illustrating environments. It’s time now to get serious, and should be close to ready by winter.
Gavin: Speaking of your wife, you also got married since we last spoke, how has it been as you're about to approach the 1-year marker?
Great. Marriage is amazing. I love sharing my life with someone, and I found a real winner. She inspires me to create better work, and makes everything about my life better.
Gavin: When did you first hear about Big Cartel and what got you interested in them?
I grew up with the two founders, Matt Wigham and Eric Turner. So I’ve stayed pretty close to Big Cartel since the very beginning. There was actually a time early on that it was called “merchboss”, and was initially built as the first in a suite of products to help small, independent bands and record labels. We built the shopping cart tool first, and it took off right away. We focused on that and have been growing like crazy ever since. That was about nine years ago.
Gavin: For those unaware, how did Big Cartel get started and what is it you primarily do?
Big Cartel is a business builder for independent artists. We build a number of tools to help artists make money doing what they love. Including mobile apps, an education center, and of course, an ecommerce platform: a super simple way to help creative types build shops online.
Gavin: How did you eventually get involved and what led to you becoming Community Director?
Growing up with Matt and Eric, I was one of the first artists given a beta invite into the early version of Big Cartel. I used it to sell prints, posters, and paintings, and loved it right away. I couldn’t stop talking about it, and at some point (about five years ago) I came on board to help preach what I’d been practicing with my own shop.
Gavin: How does the process work for a creative individual to start up a store with BC?
Easy as pie. We have a number of different plans. We recommend signing up for the free plan, kicking the tires a bit, and if we’re a good fit for your creative business, you can upgrade at any time to a larger plan.
Gavin: Being the Community Director, how much of a challenge is it getting involved with local events and businesses to help promote their work?
That’s actually the fun part. There are so many creative people doing so many amazing things, the only real challenge is having enough time and resources to support everything we want to support. We have to sort of go with our gut on what fits the mission of the company, and work as hard as we can connecting with and staying close to our growing community.
Gavin: Last year you guys moved into the new space on Edison Street. How was it putting the place together and giving the company a home in downtown SLC?
It’s been great. We feel a great sense of pride digging our roots deeper here in SLC. We’re from here, and pull a lot of our inspiration from the artists living and working here. It’s nice to be a tech company and not feel the need to travel to a coast. SLC offers so much, we’ve been able to attract talented people, and stay right near the heart of downtown.
Gavin: Are there any plans for expansion at this time or are you mainly managing the company as it is for the moment?
We’re always growing, our goal now is to grow responsibly and stay small enough that we can still know every employee’s favorite recipe and most embarrassing moment.
Gavin: What can we expect from you and Big Cartel over the rest of the year?
Phew- so much. We just launched a complete mobile-ready overhaul of our admin making it easier than ever to build and maintain a store on the go. We’re updating our iPhone app which offers the ability to sell products from anywhere, and adding beautiful new themes like crazy. We’ll continue to listen to our community and make sure we add features and updates that help tackle their changing needs as sellers.
Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Thanks to all the artists who make such amazing things. Our growth happens almost purely organically, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without the hundreds of thousands of artists who proudly wave the Big Cartel banner and support us as a solution to help them build such inspiring, creative businesses.