As Design Cuts approaches its 7th birthday, I felt this was a good time to reflect on how far we’ve come as a company and a community. I wanted to also share our exciting plans for the future.
When I founded Design Cuts 7 years ago, I was an ambitious 25 year kid with an idea, working alongside an awesome group of co-founders. Fast-forward to today, and it’s safe to say that we’ve changed our industry and positively impacted millions of creatives.
I’m humbled by our progress and grateful for the support of our incredible community. I’m also eternally proud of our world-class team.
Today, I wanted to show you the kinds of discussions we have as a team. I wanted to share our goals and mindset. I wanted to show you what makes Design Cuts tick.
The values that guide us
Our internal values guide our daily efforts and are championed by every member of our growing team:
We Go The Extra Mile:
We always go above and beyond to over deliver and exceed expectations. We provide personal, hands on care every step of the way!
We Deliver High Quality:
We believe in quality over quantity. We set the highest standard and this is reflected throughout every aspect of our business.
We Champion Positive Impact
We are an honest, positive force of innovation in our industry.
As wonderful as these sound, you may be wondering how these impact you. I wanted to take this opportunity to show you how these values are woven into everything you experience as a community member, shop owner or partner of Design Cuts.
Top 1% quality
When we established our marketplace, we knew that we didn’t want to follow the standard model - millions of products and endless options.
Listening to our community, we realised two truths:
- Customers don’t like sifting through endless poor quality products to find the best ones.
- Product creators don’t like being diluted and lost in a sea of noise. They want their quality products to stand out and be found.
It was this reasoning that led us to create the most curated design marketplace on earth. We literally only accept the top 1% of product creators and products. This means that you can have confidence that any product you download has been hand-tested and approved by our curation team.
We have rejected investment
As a boot-strapped (self funded) startup, we are somewhat of an outlier. Most of our contemporaries have investor backing. Whilst there’s nothing inherently wrong with securing investment, we have always opted to decline it. I have personally witnessed too many horror stories, where business owners had to sacrifice long-term mission and values to satisfy the profit expectations of their investors.
By remaining lean and bootstrapped since day one, we’ve retained complete control. This allows us to continue to put people above profit. It allows us to stay true to our core values, without outside influence.
It also forces us to work smart. We don’t have millions in investor backing, so we must make all our decisions wisely. Our team is small, but incredibly hard-working. We remain agile and continue to react quickly to the needs of our community and wider market.
We care (a lot!)
If you go to our about page, the first words you’ll read are ‘we care’. For us a customer service ticket is not just a ticket, it’s an opportunity to make someone’s day. It’s an opportunity to cultivate a real relationship with a Design Cutter (community member).
When I started the company, I made friends with our first 200-300 customers. Many of them are still friends today and continue to be active members of our community. This community spirit runs through the entire company. Our team are encouraged to go above and beyond for every customer. Whether it’s arranging a personal thank you gift to show appreciation for their loyalty, or simply trying to make their day via email chat. I truly believe our customer care team are the best in the world.
Kindness above all
We’re currently expanding our team, and at the very top of our hiring requirements is ‘kindness’. We’re building a bubble of positivity, empathy and support for our team and community. If someone isn’t a deeply kind person, they can’t join our team, period.
Again, this comes back to people over profit, but an enormous amount of team effort goes into making community members smile, laugh, or feel appreciated. Whether it’s via our (sometimes goofy) live sessions, super fun events, or thriving Facebook community.
Not afraid to fail
We realise that not everything we try will work out. For example, despite our best intentions, we decided to close our community forum, which wasn’t seeing the traction we’d hoped for. We listened to our community’s feedback and instead launched our popular live events and Facebook groups.
Our team know it’s not about getting everything perfect. It’s about trying, experimenting and seeing what works. So much of the magic that happens at Design Cuts comes from these experiments.
My favourite thing about running Design Cuts is when we receive emails from the designers we work with, sharing stories of how their shop sales are making a huge impact on their life.
When new team members join us, I’ll often share favourite moments from our history, where shop owner’s earnings have put their kids through college, or even saved their house from repossession. I like to say ‘this is why we do what we do’.
This is also why for four years we’ve published one of the most popular design podcasts The Honest Designers Show - to help guide and support our community at scale.
So what does the future hold?
As we continue to scale, the most important thing to me is that we retain the values that Design Cuts was founded upon. We’re excited to scale our product base, live events and content to better serve you. However, we would never scale at the expense of our values.
I would rather we run a slow, but intentional race. In playing the long-game, we can continue to serve our community best. We can continue to put people above profit.
We have some incredible plans for the next year. But primarily, we want to continue bringing you value every day.
Design Cuts has been the greatest rollercoaster of my life. For those that know me best, you’ll remember when my 18 hour days growing the company eventually hospitalised me. It’s been endless hard-work, dedication and drive from our whole team to get this far. Looking now, it was all worth it. We’ve collectively never felt happier, more motivated and more excited about the future.
I hope that in sharing all of this, I gave you a greater insight into our vision for Design Cuts.
On behalf of myself and the entire team - thank you for always being the greatest community out there. We appreciate every single one of you.
- Tom Ross (Design Cuts Founder and CEO)