Digital Textiles Printer Spoonflower Sews Up $25M Investment

Textiles startup Spoonflower is reviving North Carolina’s legacy in the fabrics business with a new, digital twist. Now the company has $25 million in additional capital to expand its reach.

Durham, NC-based Spoonflower announced the new funding Wednesday. North Bridge Growth Equity, a Boston-based firm, led the investment, which included participation from Bull City Venture Partners of Durham.

Spoonflower describes itself as an Internet-based service for creating custom fabric. Customers go to Spoonflower’s website to find or create a design that can be digitally printed onto fabric, wallpaper, or gift wrap at the company’s Durham production facility. After printing, orders are shipped to the customer. Spoonflower has no minimum order requirement, and the company sells swatches of fabric for as low as $5 each. The service, which also offers a marketplace for independent artists to sell their designs, has become popular with do-it-yourselfers making clothes, pillows, and toys. The company also counts among its customers businesses that turn the printed fabrics into products that they can sell themselves.

Market research firm InfoTrends pegs the digitally printed textile market at more than $12 billion worldwide, which is still less than 1 percent of the overall textile market. Most of the growth is coming from the Europe, Middle East, and Africa; between 2013 and 2018, InfoTrends projects that that region will represent 64 percent of total digital textile printing. While garments represent the largest application for digital textiles, InfoTrends says décor is also growing.

Spoonflower was co-founded in 2008 by Gart Davis and Stephen Fraser, both veterans of Raleigh, NC, online self-publishing platform Lulu.com. The pair bootstrapped the company, first operating from a former sock mill. But Spoonflower was able to tap into the growing demand for digital printing services, evident in the company’s steady revenue growth. Spoonflower this year ranked no. 1009 on Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies. Spoonflower recorded $15.3 million in 2014 revenue, according to Inc., growing 433 percent in the last three years. The company now employs 150 people in Durham.

Spoonflower is North Bridge’s first North Carolina investment. The firm first connected with the company at the 2014 CED Tech Venture Conference in Raleigh. Spoonflower says it plans to use the investment to develop new products and offerings, and to boost its international presence. The company says that nearly 30 percent of its orders are shipped outside of the United States. With the new investment, Spoonflower plans to open an office in Berlin, Germany.

Frank Vinluan is editor of Xconomy Raleigh-Durham, based in Research Triangle Park. You can reach him at fvinluan [at] xconomy.com Follow @frankvinluan

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