The front of the new CafePress headquarters. | Photo by Boris Ladwig.
The front of the new CafePress headquarters. | Photo by Boris Ladwig.

On a digital map in the new world headquarters of CafePress, images of just-sold products flash in the top right corner, while colorful lights blink to signal national sales hotspots. White lights on the map indicate locations where a sale has occurred in the last 30 minutes. Dark red ones show cities where people made purchases as many as three hours ago. The size of the dots indicates the number of sales.

It’s a real-time reflection of how well the e-commerce retailer is performing at any moment, and one of the high-tech aspects of the company’s new corporate office at 11909 Shelbyville Road in Middletown.

CafePress calls itself the “world’s best online gift shop” and sells more than a billion items, from T-shirts to watches and shower curtains. Founded in California in 1999, the now publicly traded company moved its headquarters to Louisville in 2012, but co-founder Fred Durham said that until now, Louisville has not felt like the company’s home.

In 2012, the company squeezed its engineering, marketing and IT functions into its Riverport production facility.

“It felt like an afterthought,” he told Insider Louisville Thursday afternoon after a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The lumber jack conference room in the new CafePress headquarters. | Courtesy of CafePress.
The lumber jack conference room in the new CafePress headquarters. | Courtesy of CafePress.

While the Riverport space itself failed to provide the proper surroundings for a creative workforce, its location, far away from many employees’ homes, also constituted a barrier to staff retention and attraction.

Fred DurhamThe new $2.5 million, 25,000-square-foot office, is closer to employee homes — Durham said he has a 2-mile commute now — and provides easy access to a diversity of food options, bike paths and public transportation. The building’s design evokes Silicon Valley, with sleek furniture, pop culture knick-knacks, a video arcade and natural light flooding in from all sides through banks of tall windows that reveal lush greenery in the back.

A bicycle was parked in the lobby this afternoon. The building has showers to refresh workers who commute by bike on hot days.

Near the entrance, two computers symbolize a customer’s shopping experience, while walls near the machines are decorated with CafePress products that will be changed periodically.

One of the cubicle areas in the new CafePress headquarter building. | Photo by Boris Ladwig.
One of the cubicle areas in the new CafePress headquarter building. | Photo by Boris Ladwig.

Cubicles are peppered with personal touches, such as a Chik-fil-a cow and a Darth Vader statue. Allie Cowan Holtz, the company’s marketing strategy program manager, said the company encouraged employees to personalize their cubicle areas by giving them a CafePress gift card.

Glass doors and windows of conference rooms feature images such as a jellyfish, a lumber jack or a poster from the “Ice Age” movie series. The images denote locations, so that employees may plan a meeting by saying, “I’ll meet you at 3 in jellyfish.” Employees also have decorated the rooms with CafePress products, from mugs to T-shirts and ottomans.

The company has agreements with lots of brands, TV shows and movie series that allow customers to place popular images on T-shirts, mugs and other items. You want a shower curtain with an image of Omar Little, a notorious gangster from the HBO show “The Wire” and one of his quotes, “You come at the King, you best not miss”? CafePress can make that for you.

Customization

While many customers view CafePress as a printing business, Durham sees the company more as a leader in the gifting business, whose primary mission is to connect people by providing them with highly customized gifts.

Customization is critical and is reflected in the company’s sales breakdown. CafePress may sell thousands of items within a certain period, but only three of the items might be exactly alike, Durham said.

CafePress products are displayed throughout the company’s new headquarters. | Photo By Boris Ladwig.
CafePress products are displayed throughout the company’s new headquarters. | Photo By Boris Ladwig.

While the company has struggled financially, Durham said he is turning the business around. The company recorded a first-quarter loss of $3 million, but its margin improved: Revenues declined 23 percent compared to a year earlier, but the cost of revenues fell more than 28 percent.

The company has hired about 30 in the last few months and employs about 100 at its new headquarters. The company now employs about 350 in the Louisville area, including about 250 at its manufacturing facility at Jefferson Riverport International. During the peak holiday season, manufacturing employment can spike to 800. The company also employs 40 in Hayward, Calif.

CFO Garett Jackson told IL that the company is hiring. Applicants can stop by the office or check the company’s website. Wages depend on the role but generally range from $50,000 to $100,000 a year for highly technical positions or from $10 to $16 per hour for production staff.

The new headquarters were designed by Louisville-area architect Jason Lange of Prodigy Construction.

Durham said the new facility symbolizes the company leaders’ commitment to Louisville and their confidence in the business.

“We’re poised for growth,” he said.

Boris Ladwig
Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.