Ecommerce used to be a dirty word. When we have so many huge global issues to address, why would the best and brightest in digital work so hard to sell more stuff?

Then, I started meeting the makers. Designers, mothers, artists, writers, chefs, lawyers, students, new to town, new fathers, healers, the generous, the insightful, the brave. Ecommerce empowers visionary people to make work that matters and to live a more meaningful life.

Threadless is doing this like a boss. Fifteen years after the company launched in Chicago’s Ravenswood corridor, people still cock their head inquisitively, ‘T-shirts, really?’ And yet, many thousands of artists have launched careers in creative, collectively earning many, many millions — year over year. This year, I expect Threadless to see growth they haven’t experienced since pioneering the crowd-sourcing model that’s revolutionized creative community. Yet again, they’re breaking new ground with the launch of their new Artist Shops platform. This time democratizing not only ecommerce, but also manufacturing.

The Artist Shops ecommerce platform is a free service — a shop owner needs only to show up with some image files, and within minutes, that design work shows up in a catalog of apparel, ready to sell. Threadless manufactures products on-demand, then handles shipping and customer service as well. The manufacturing + fulfillment fees are deducted from the purchase price, and shop owners set those prices then glean the margins. And the icing on the cake — artists can create their own shop, with their own brand. This is not simply another marketplace filled with artisanal goods, this is a means for shop owners to deliver a unique experience — which is what we want from artists, right?

Threadless Artist Shops

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