Joining Storenvy -

Joining Storenvy

Update: January 2011
If you’re reading this post for the first time,
you’ll also want to read the latest news. 😉

Have you ever had the feeling that everything in your life has led you up to this moment? When it comes to big life changes, and a career path, I particularly remember this awesome feeling when I finally launched WilloToons. Here I had been a designer and illustrator professionally for 10 years, and was finally able to utilize all those skills and put it toward building my product line.

Fast forward 3 years, and I’ve not only utilized all of my skills illustrating, designing & building my online store, designing all my print/marketing collateral, and cultivating an incredible community of supportive, repeat customers, but I’ve also learned a TON about building a successful product line. Seriously… I’ve studied it like it was my job! But after sharing my knowledge and experience, through speaking engagements and at conferences, I kept finding that the combination of my skills and affinity for all things social had culminated into more than me just wanting just to build my brand… I realized that my true passion lies in helping other creatives, crafters and designers get their businesses online!

Continuing to explore this, I kept asking myself, what would that look like? One-on-one consulting? Cultivating my own conference? When it came right down to it, what I really wanted to do was help more people. Finally, after months of trying to figure it out, it became crystal clear almost overnight, that it was going to be neither of those. After 7 years of owning my own business(es), I was either going to start a new company, or join one at the core/founding level. It was going to be something bigger, and it was going to integrate the technology (that I know & love) to reach artists and business owners globally.

Again, if you’re just joining me on this journey, you may want to read my epiphanic
Time for a Change post. It’s some solid back story on all of the above.

Timing is everything…
Right around the same time I came to this conclusion, I happened to reconnect with friends I had met at SXSW earlier this year. A super fun couple, Jon & Janette Crawford, who had attended my SXSW core convo. Keeping in touch with them on Twitter, I had heard they were moving out to SF for the summer, and shortly after their arrival we went out for brunch. And then had some phone calls… and then some drinks… and basically, it didn’t take long for us to to realize it was a perfect match! Therefore, I am thrilled to announce…

I have joined the founding team of!

(Here’s the announcement post on the Storenvy Blog, too.)

What is Storenvy?
In a nutshell, Storenvy connects indie shoppers and sellers in an online social marketplace. Shoppers can browse products by genre and rocket their favorites to stardom (think Digg for cool stuff to buy), and sellers can open a free store in minutes. To boil it down in internet metaphor speak, it’s Amazon for the little guy, Etsy for everything and Facebook for e-commerce. Awesome, right?! Totally. 🙂

So, there’s the opportunity to shop, buying products being sold by independent sellers, which I love (See Janette’s fabulous article, How Buying Cool Stuff Can Save The World), but as a web/graphic designer AND merchant, I have a lot to say from the seller’s perspective!

For crafters/creators like myself, there are lots of places to sell online, but none of them have all of these awesome features:

  1. 100% Free
  2. Fully Customizable
  3. Automatically expose your products to an entire social shopping marketplace, full of potential buyers and traffic to your store; which includes being able to shop across all of those stores, and check out with one cart!

WilloToons on StorenvyClearly that third point is an incredible value-add to any new seller – especially as all things social are growing like wildfire lately – but as a geek & a designer, I really like the fully customizable part. For example, I designed my store, and want it to be within the look & feel of the rest of my site (my about page, press, events, blog, etc). And check it out… this is the WilloToons store on Storenvy, and it looks just as it did before, fully customized and integrated into my site design! »

Ooh, what’s that little gray bar top right?
One of the differences between Storenvy’s platform and other “store builders”, is that it’s a social marketplace. Once you have an account, you can actually follow me as a user, follow my store, and comment on and “Like” my products. This is what it looks like while you’re on a product page in my customized store, and on a product page in the Storenvy marketplace:

Wow, Storenvy’s site is so well-designed, and I love the blue sky, sunshine and cute characters… are those WilloToons’ illustrations?
No, the illustrations aren’t mine, but aren’t they adorable!? Those were done by their friend Heather Hale, who works at Hallmark. When I first saw the site I thought, “Wow, this is so me!” I feel like this site is one I would have designed. Storenvy’s original designer did a fantastic job, and already I’ve had a lot of fun working within the style they’ve set forth.

That said, we have a lot of work to do from here, design work included. But with over 1700 stores and 18,000+ products, we’re off to a great start, and the only way is up! With my combined passion around helping indie sellers, user experience and building strong online communities, I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of Storenvy’s growth.

Have you contributed to anything on Storenvy design-wise so far?
Why, yes, I have. Thanks for asking! I’ve actually been on board for a month or so already, so a few of the forward-facing things I’ve had a hand in are: designing the welcome/landing page for the Storenvy Store Tab Facebook App (and the settings page, once you’re logged in), the app’s corresponding welcome/landing page, as well as the welcome/landing page for the official Storenvy Fan Page. And, yes, I have the Store Tab installed on my personal FB profile and WilloToons Fan page, too!

For those interested in this cool feature, the Storenvy Store Tab even has a built-in discount code promotion, where it encourages people to “Like” your fan page, in order to get a Fan-only discount code. Sweet!

Tell me more about your new partners!
This is a big part of this union for me. For anyone who knows me, you know that I love a lot of people… but I wouldn’t actually go into business with just anyone. Well, Jon & Janette made the cut. Seriously though, I feel like Jon Crawford is the business partner I’ve been looking for over the last 7 years. He is super smart, both in business (finances, decks, speaking to investors, etc.), and technology (he has coded the entire Storenvy site). Furthermore, Jon is probably one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. Thankfully, it’s with this intelligence & charm he was able to land marry his incredibly beautiful and talented wife, Janette.

Janette Crawford is our amazing Communications Director and brings her phenomenal experience in branding and marketing to the table. Also, it just so happens she has a passion for eco-fashion, like myself, and has a beautiful website, blog and fashion line of her own, called Fashion Loves People.

The three of us are an awesome match; we get along great & complement each other’s strengths perfectly. Can’t beat that, right?

What’s the next step for Storenvy?
Well, like any startup, we have a lot to do, because we’re growing fast! We are looking forward to bringing on new team members to help us with the rapid growth. We have some big plans in the works, and I really hope you’ll all keep Storenvy in mind for when you’re looking to buy cool stuff and for any merchants who want to be a part of a vibrant social shopping marketplace.

What’s happening with WilloToons, the product line?
I’m still here! I still have my store, now on Storenvy, and I still plan to design and release new illustrations and designs, under my WilloToons brand. I wrote a bit more about it in my Time for a Change post, and I will address it further in another post soon, but suffice to say there are some exciting developments on the WilloToons horizon. 🙂

For now, I’m just so happy I’ve got that fantastic feeling again: Everything I’ve done has led me up to this moment, and the change that I asked for is delivering me with gusto into this fabulous new chapter! Thank you all for sharing in this exciting news with me. I welcome any questions or feedback. And I especially look forward to celebrating with all of my dear friends, both far & wide!

Update: January 2011
If you’re reading this post for the first time,
you’ll also want to read the latest news. 😉

Leave a Reply 16 comments

Tweets that mention Change has officially arrived: I’ve joined the Storenvy team! « WilloToons -- - September 20, 2010 Reply

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by WilloToons and superjuicychicken, MD Dundon. MD Dundon said: RT @willotoons: Remember that big post I wrote about it being time for a change? Well, change has officially arrived!! Announcing… […]

Victoria Klein - September 20, 2010 Reply

Such an exciting turn of events – congrats! You just never know who you will meet & who you might be working with someday. 🙂 Very excited to see how grows 🙂

    Willo O'Brien - September 20, 2010 Reply

    I know, right? I read somewhere recently that sometimes we don’t realize why we’ve met someone until about 3 years down the road. This connection only took 3 months to make perfect sense… I’ll take it!

    Thanks, Victoria!

Peter Flaschner - September 20, 2010 Reply

SUCH AMAZING NEWS! So happy for you.

    Willo O'Brien - September 20, 2010 Reply

    Yay, thanks, Peter! You & I have talked a lot about big changes in our creative careers… exciting stuff!

Joel Bush - September 20, 2010 Reply

Congrats. This makes so much sense for all of you. It’s going to be fun seeing what shakes with Storenvy.

    Willo O'Brien - September 20, 2010 Reply

    Ya, super excited about it. So fun we all got to hang out & talk business yesterday, Joel. You’re awesome… looking forward to reconnecting next time you’re out here or back in Austin. Queso party! 😀

Ethan Bloch - September 20, 2010 Reply

Amazing – happy to see this all come together. Congrats and keep crushing it!

    Willo O'Brien - September 20, 2010 Reply

    So cool that you were an integral part of this connect, Ethan. Only fitting considering what a true icon you are in the hustle department! Thanks for being an inspiration and a friend.

Jay Goldman - September 20, 2010 Reply

WILLO! Very, very happy that this has all worked out so swimmingly. Jon and Janette are lucky to have you (and you them)! Best of luck to the new happy threesome 🙂

    Willo O'Brien - September 20, 2010 Reply

    Thanks, NBFF! Yes, it’s a solid match. So great in fact it inspired a post in my head today that I want to write for Rypple’s Make Work Meaningful site! Now we’ll just see if I can make time for it in my long startup days. 😉

kg - September 20, 2010 Reply

Willo! That’s GREAT news!! Big big congrats!!!! So excited for you (and them)! 😀

    Willo O'Brien - September 20, 2010 Reply

    Thanks, Kristy!! I can’t wait to catch up with you when you’re back in town & hear all your news, too!

Alex Rudloff - September 21, 2010 Reply


    Willo O'Brien - September 25, 2010 Reply

    Thanks, Alex! 🙂

Franklin J. - October 6, 2010 Reply

Really incredible. Way to go Willo.

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What stage of growth are you at in your business right now?