Artist Dana Duncan sells this design, entitled “Dangerous Floral in Amythst,” in the Spoonflower marketplace. Duncan has some concerns about what the acquisition might bring but is also hopeful about the company’s future.
Photo courtesy of Dana Duncan.
Disclosure: Craft Industry Alliance is working with Spoonflower on two content-focused projects in 2021.
Spoonflower, the print-on-demand fabric company, announced yesterday that it will be acquired by Shutterfly for $225 million. The deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021, will give Shutterfly access to a new assortment of products including fabric and wallpaper in addition to their current assortment of print-on-demand products which includes canvas prints, coasters, notecards, puzzles, and playing cards among others. Spoonflower also has a marketplace of artist-created designs, with approximately 4,000 new designs uploaded each day.
Artists who use Spoonflower to create fabrics and to sell through the site’s marketplace expressed mixed feelings about the announcement. Leah Fowler is a stationery designer with clients in the wedding industry who has designs on Spoonflower. “I’m going to be honest, I think the quality of some of Shutterfly’s products is super cheap,” she says, noting that some of her clients have come to her for invitations after ordering from Shutterfly and being disappointed. “I also get annoyed with the tremendous amount of codes and sales,” she says. At the same time, Fowler is hopeful about what Shutterfly might bring to Spoonflower. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and great improvements will come from this,” she says.
Once the acquisition closes later this year, Spoonflower will retain its distinct brand and team structure. Michael Jones, who became Spoonflower’s CEO in February 2020 and led the company through massive growth fueled by the pandemic, will continue to stay on and report to Hilary Schneider, CEO of Shutterfly.
Spoonflower may benefit from the sheer size and technical power of Shutterfly, as well as from the deeper pockets of Shutterfly’s owner, Apollo Global Management. Currently, Spoonflower has 3.3 million users, in comparison to Shutterfly’s 21 million. “Not only will Spoonflower now enable Shutterfly consumers to buy artists’ customized design creations in addition to personalizing their own,” Jones said, “But we will also unlock the ability to reach new audiences and scale the small businesses of our incredible creative community thanks to Shutterfly’s manufacturing expertise and expansive customer reach. We’re simply thrilled to be joining the Shutterfly family.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Shutterfly was looking to go public via a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The SPAC valued Shutterfly at between $4 and $5 billion. The Spoonflower acquisition grows Shutterfly’s value and market access.
Spoonflower seller Dana Duncan expressed both hope and reservations about what this acquisition might mean. “I am nervous because when Etsy got sold, it totally changed the dynamic of everything,” she says. “All of the seller fees increased dramatically. So of course I am worried about a very commercial site buying Spoonflower. I also have concerns in terms of copyright and royalty fees. I will have to wait and see what happens in the next few months as they transition. Who knows, maybe all of those website functionality things we have been wanting can finally happen?”
Spoonflower will be conducting an artist and maker conversation on Thursday, June 17 at 2:00 pm EST to discuss the impact of this news.
Abby co-founded Craft Industry Alliance and now serves as its president. She’s a sewing pattern designer, teacher, and journalist. She’s dedicated to creating an outstanding trade association for the crafts industry. Abby lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts.