The Download: Michael Jones, CEO, Spoonflower

Former eBay and Channel Advisor executive Michael Jones stepped into the CEO role at Durham-based Spoonflower in January, heading a company putting a 21st-century spin on a once-dominant North Carolina industry: textiles.

Spoonflower is a global e-commerce marketplace connecting textile makers and consumers with design artists worldwide. The company’s on-demand digital printing platform revolutionized the textile industry, developing an eco-friendly, sustainable, and scalable manufacturing process. Spoonflower consumers can design their own patterns on premium fabric, wallpaper, or home goods. Or they can shop from the world’s largest marketplace of over 1 million designs from independent artists.

Jones has an impressive history in e-commerce development. He held vice president positions at eBay from 2010 to 2014 (as VP of Merchant Development and, earlier, of Business Development). He was Chief Revenue Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Morrisville-based Channel Advisor, where he helped land eBay as an investor.

Most recently Jones was Chief Revenue Officer at Amplience, a London-based content management platform, where he was responsible for all worldwide marketing, sales, business development, customer success, and professional services. He previously held leadership positions at Anatwine, acquired by Berlin-based Zalando; and at RetailMeNot (acquired by Harland Clarke).

1. What is in your pockets?

There’s actually nothing in my pockets because I constantly wear Under Armour workout shorts and split my day up into working out, working, working out again, and working. And so I almost never have anything in my pockets.

2. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?

 Something I didn’t see coming that has been incredibly exciting for our business.

Since the Covid pandemic hit, our business tripled in size. You’ve read a lot of articles about the acceleration of e-commerce, and how it’s accelerated 10 years of growth into a three-month window. We’re definitely a living, breathing part of that. Every aspect of our business—fabric, wallpaper, and home decor—has seen incredible growth. We’ve had to move very, very fast on our side to keep up with all of the demands, both on the hiring front and getting more facilities and printers, etc.

Spoonflower is an on-demand digital textile company. Consumers and interior designers and makers come to our site and select designs. We digitally print those on many different fabric types and wallpaper. We also make home decor items like pillows, shams, dining table runners, tea towels, curtains, you name it. What makes us really unique is the artists who create those designs get a commission for everything that we sell.

3. What is your favorite coffee spot?

To me, there’s no other coffee spot on the planet except for Cup A Joe on Hillsborough Street. It broke my heart to see the business go from packed every day—a vibrant, unbelievable place—to not being open, and then only being able to do take out. A few times this year, we’ve done a full order, including muffins, to take out to the Spoonflower factory employees. I try to get as many converters to Cup A Joe as I possibly can.

4. What keeps you up at night?

The Covid pandemic helped accelerate our business, so for me, it’s all about how do we scale up our operations in the right way to be able to handle the growth we have now, the future of growth that we see coming, and keeping the outstanding culture that we have at Spoonflower. How to keep our customers, our employees, and our shareholders happy. It’s really difficult to be able to handle very rapid growth and not do damage to any of those areas.

5. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?

 I would have to say it changed over time now, because of what’s open. We are big fans of Glenwood Grill. It’s not too far from my house. It’s easy for my wife and me to get away from the kids rather quickly. So I don’t know that it’s exactly happy hour, but we tend to go there and have a nice quiet dinner by ourselves that allows us to get away for a little bit.

Then we get back to the kiddos before it gets too late.

6. What is next for you or your organization?

We truly believe that Spoonflower is in this incredibly unique position. The people who do this offline have been struggling. Not a lot of people that do what we do online. It really feels like now is our opportunity to take the business to the next level. That means a combination of things: continuing to add great talent to our executive team, continuing to hire fantastic people throughout the organization, and continuing to scale up our operations overall.

We made an investment in Europe a few years ago that’s really starting to pay off. So we will likely start to invest more internationally as well.

Right now it’s all about realizing that our business is at a new level than before. Just being able to harness that and move forward is really exciting for me personally, for the company, and for our area. One of the reasons I took this role was because I wanted to be part of a great entrepreneurial and CEO network in the RTP area that could continue to build great companies and continue to have Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill be one of the great places for talent to come and start businesses.

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About Brooks Malone 50 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and Raleigh Founded.