2013 Honoree

Stephen Fraser

Durham, North Carolina
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Stephen Fraser's wife, Kim, just wanted to make drapes. She could envision the polka-dotted fabric she wanted to use and even had the basic skills to design them. She just couldn’t find it in any store. “Being the know-it-all husband, I told her there must be a place online where she could have it made,” Fraser recalls. “But in 2008, the Internet let you customize almost anything, other than fabric.” Fraser, 43, had worked in digital custom publishing, as did Gart Davis, 47, Spoonflower’s cofounder, and the two quickly set about creating “a YouTube for textiles, where designers could sell their work and people could come to buy others’ designs.” Never mind that they knew very little about the large ink-jet printers capable of churning out custom fabric: “We really were cocooned by our ignorance,” Fraser says, laughing. But they were bolstered by the enthusiasm of crafters and home sewists: From the earliest days, Spoonflower’s blog tapped potential users for input (asking, literally, “How much would you pay for this?”—about $17 a yard, it turns out). Crafting blogs started linking to their nascent site, and the early introduction of weekly design contests fostered a strong sense of community among designers. Today, when you buy fabric from the site, do not be surprised if you get a thank-you note from its designer, encouraging words, and a request for pictures of the finished product. “We can’t take any of the credit for that,” Fraser says. “It’s the character of crafters around the world, creating a friendly, encouraging atmosphere.”
It’s the character of crafters around the world, creating a friendly, encouraging atmosphere. Stephen Fraser