Big Cartel

Brought to you by the design and developing team at Indie Labs, Big Cartel is a site that is home to many fully customized shops selling items ranging from band merchandise, to jewelry, to clothing. With many of today’s popular clothing companies such as 410 BC, Linty Fresh, and Ugmonk utilizing Big Cartel’s storefronts, it is undeniable that Big Cartel is taking the lead as a webstore provider.

We interview Matt Wigham, co-founder of Big Cartel.

“We had no idea it would get this big, and we have no idea how big it’ll get in the future.”

BM: How did you come up with the idea for Big Cartel and when did the site officially launch?

MW: The idea for Big Cartel came about when I needed a simple way to sell my bands merch online. I wasn’t too thrilled with any of the existing shopping cart systems out there, so being a web guy I decided to make my own. Pretty soon I realized that a lot of my other friends could use this for their bands, tees, art, etc. and Big Cartel officially launched in October of 2004.

BM: How many individual shops is Big Cartel currently home to?

MW: We have a little over 71,000 registered stores right now and we’re growing like crazy. Some of our stores are listed in our directory at:

BM: Do you recall the first company to ever sign up for a Big Cartel storefront?

MW: I definitely do, it was Rob Dobi of Fullbleed. I’m not even sure if he knows he was the first.

We had a brief beta period where we had a lot of our friends and people we knew using the system, but Rob was the first person we didn’t know to sign up for a paid account on our first day. We couldn’t have picked a better first user either, Rob’s a great guy.

BM: How has Big Cartel changed since its first year? Did you ever think that it would be as widely used as it is today?

MW: The biggest change is that it has gone from a dorky little side project to the flagship product of a company of 6. We had no idea it would get this big, and we have no idea how big it’ll get in the future. The coolest part for us is that we’ve never done any paid advertising for it either, it’s all been from people telling their friends about how much they like it.

BM: What are some of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned from running Big Cartel?

MW: We’re learning new stuff every day, but I’d say the biggest thing we’ve learned is to work on things you love with people you love to work with. You never know what ideas are going to take off and take up all of your time, so be sure you’re working on things you’re proud of.

BM: Are there any new additions and/or improvements in store for Big Cartel this year?

MW: We’re very selective about the features we add, because adding too many features is what complicates and ultimately ruins good products. That said, we’re looking to improve and refine a lot of our existing features (store customization, discount codes, shipping, etc.) and we’ve got some great new stuff on the way too, like the ability to sell digital products (more on that very soon).

BM: Taking both shop aesthetics and product offerings into account, what are your top five favorite shops on Big Cartel?

MW: Oh man, that’s tough. Here are a few off the top of my head, in no particular order:

* Little White Lies – UK film magazine, the best mag I’m subscribed to
* Furni – really great handmade clocks
* Ligature, Loop & Stem – really cool store design
* Boompa –  another really great store design
* Sing Statistics –  great design and great posters

BM: What’s the most interesting item sold on Big Cartel that you’ve come across?

MW: Heh, well the first thing that comes to mind are the really naughty ones. Stuff like a spray to make erections go away, or some really intimidating S&M garb, but I’d say the most interesting might be a diamond encrusted skull.

BM: Is there anything else that you would like to share?

MW: Thanks a lot for the questions. To anyone not familiar with Big Cartel, we’d love to have you check us out at And to anyone interested in selling digital products, holler at us on Twitter at @bigcartel. Thanks!


*Finally, Big Cartel themes available for sale at Theme Fiend! Check them out!*