In the Spring of 2020, Spoonflower, a North Carolina-based supplier of decorated textiles serving entrepreneurs, graphic designers, and DIY artisans worldwide, installed four new Kornit Presto S systems for roll-to-roll, direct-to-fabric digital decoration.
This installation, which effectively doubled Spoonflower’s production capacity, was fast-tracked to answer a considerable increase in topline growth since the onset of COVID-19 restrictions disrupted the industry.
“Our business has seen phenomenal growth”
Spoonflower attributed the sudden increase in demand for decorated textiles to increased interest in home-based and DIY projects, as well as their Mask Response Project. The latter is a program the supplier initiated to give creators the means to design, manufacture, and distribute protective face masks to healthcare providers, community groups, and private citizens in all regions impacted by the pandemic.
“Our business has seen phenomenal growth the past 30-45 days, and we’re seeing a huge surge across all of our product lines,” says Michael Jones, Spoonflower CEO. “I’d say about a third of it is from personal protective equipment, face masks. Our makers are located around the world, and we’re able to provide them with unique designs and fabrics that foster personal expression. They’re for their local communities, and so whether it’s nurses, or people in different homes, they’re able to provide for their own local community where we wouldn’t be able to without their help.”
To keep up with that demand, Jones says “we’ve added 25,000 square feet of new operational facility in less than two weeks.”
Demand for self-expression persists
While facial protection was likely far from the minds of most Spoonflower customers just a few short months ago, the pandemic has created a new fashion paradigm, one that builds upon the established trends of customization and connectivity emerging from a digitized world.
“We’re seeing a lot of customers are making use of these products to really help empower their own mask-making efforts, and we’re seeing a tremendous surge in personalization and curation of print design,” says Kerry King, SVP of Research and Development at Spoonflower. “The masks people are making are speaking to who they are and what’s important to them.”
According to Gart Davis, Spoonflower’s Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, this speaks to his brand’s broader vision, which has long sought to empower the creative community to express itself through textiles.
“I ask myself now, during a pandemic, why there is so much urgency, so much need, not just for fabric—because there’s a lot of fabric in the world—but fabric that is expressive, that tells a particular story,” says Davis. “The Kornit technology, combined with the Spoonflower website, and marketplace, and designer community, is a perfect collaboration for responding to something that is happening now, and really demands expression.”
Davis stressed the role of online designers in driving the demand for protective masks.
“The army of Etsy makers jumped in and started making masks, and everybody went to explore different types of masks—are they comfortable, are they safe, what do they say about me—and a lot of the Etsy suppliers use Spoonflower fabric, and of course Spoonflower uses Kornit printers,” he says.
“Kornit and Spoonflower are running that race together”
Regardless of the application, delivering high-quality graphic impressions on demand, in a multitude of fabrics, has long been the foundation of Spoonflower’s business. Their partnership with Kornit extends back to 2013, when the web-based textiles supplier became the first North American business to install a Kornit system for digital direct-to-fabric printing.
“These printers are the core of our business,” says Sarah Ward, Spoonflower’s SVP of Marketing. “We print things, and need reliable, stable partners willing to go the distance with us, and I feel like Kornit and Spoonflower are running that race together. Being able to bring on new equipment, working together to make that happen, just goes to show how strong a partnership we do have.”
According to Ward, that partnership delivers a versatility that not only creates new opportunities in situations where more traditional legacy brands encounter financial hardship, but also addresses the question of whether the post-pandemic marketplace can still benefit from a more eco-conscious mindset.
“When you have 1.8 million designs, you simply can’t stock that many fabrics in one place—so the ability to print on demand, not only does it make for the world’s largest marketplace of designs, but it’s inherently sustainable and eco-friendly,” she says.
Weathering the storm
Kerry King has found comfort in reliable production processes throughout Spoonflower’s recent experiences.
“We are using all of our printing platforms to meet consumer demand across fabric and home décor, and we are seeing our vendors rise to the challenge to support our needs during an exceedingly difficult time,” says King.
Kornit has long viewed Spoonflower as an unsurpassed partner in demonstrating the value of its digital, sustainable, pigment-based direct-to-fabric textile decoration technology.