You know that friend who always seems to be in the know? Every time you see them, they’ve got the next it-bag on their arm or have embraced the coolest home decor trend months before everyone else. Well, we think that friend might now be in website form. Meet Tictail – an online marketplace that’s bursting with emerging brands and makers. This is the place to find the “next big thing.” We were intrigued and wanted to know more, so we chatted with Carl Waldekranz – co-founder and CEO. And because we’re a little design-obsessed, Tictail’s Head of Brand Design (Dan Blackman) welcomed us into his stylish New York apartment… which is of course filled with great Tictail finds. Read on, take a tour, and then get shopping!

Hi Carl! We’d love to know more about Tictail. When was it founded, and why?
In 2012, I founded Tictail along with three buddies in Stockholm. This was around the time that online retail was really beginning to gain momentum, and yet there weren’t great options available for entrepreneurs looking for a free, beautiful, easy-to-use platform. Take my mom, for example, who in many ways was our inspiration in the early days when building Tictail. She has a ceramic business called By Mutti where she creates these wonderful traditional Chinese-style ceramics, but with a twist: printing old-timey Americana tattoos as the design on the porcelain. My mother is a creative, she is an artist. She has no idea how to build a website. We wanted to create a platform that empowered small business owners and independent brands from around the world, like my mom, to easily build and grow their businesses through e-commerce, even if they didn’t have the tech know-how.

Fast forward to today where Tictail is home to over 85,000 independent brands across 140 countries. People all over the world are using the Tictail platform to build tomorrow’s favorite brands. With this amazing engagement, we’ve been able to branch out into much more than an e-commerce platform, but into a marketplace where shoppers from around the world can come to the Tictail app to discover and purchase amazing products they’ve never seen before. I have always loved fashion, design and art and and humbled to see how Tictail has evolved into a destination where users can shop locally, but on a global level. The experience reminds me so much of walking down a street in Barcelona, peeking into a beautiful boutique, speaking with the shop owner about a vintage copper lamp, or handmade leather wallet, and walking away with a new item that has a story tied to it. We want shopping on Tictail to have this same feeling of unique discovery.

Tictail has grown rapidly. What do you attribute your success to?
Credit really is due to the unique brands and shoppers who have flocked to our platform. Tictail is a community with a palpable aesthetic. We love color and quality, nordic design, items that are whimsical and humorous, products with history, craftsmanship, and heart. And remarkably, it is amazing brands sharing the Tictail platform with other amazing brands that allows our marketplace to remain true to this brand persona. Talent draws in more talent and we’ve been so inspired by the community fostered on our platform.

You have offices both in Stockholm and NYC. Can you tell us why, and how your team makes it work with an ocean between?
Teleportation.

No, but we do work extremely hard to make the distance feel less large. I personally sit in the New York office but am in Stockholm at least once a month. Our other co-founders are on a similar schedule. We have an exchange program where any employee can work out of another office for an extended period of time and we will make sure their lodging and transit is taken care of. We have video conferencing capabilities in all of our conference rooms and always opt to have a “face to face” meeting, rather than over the phone.

Luckily, having split offices is far from an annoyance. We’ve focused on building an international brand from day one. Today we have over ten languages spoken amongst our 50 employees! We pride ourselves on not running like just another New York tech company and constantly come back to our Swedish roots. We love to bring a touch of Scandinavia to the States — just last month we had an awesome Swedish Midsummer dinner on our Soho rooftop (pic attached) filled with traditional midsummer songs and lots and lots of snaps.

With so many vendors, how do you suggest shoppers find what they’re looking for on Tictail?
The Tictail app is a wonderful way to browse and discover independent brands from all over the world in our marketplace. There are always new and amazing finds across fashion, home, accessories and art.

Another great search technique is to take advantage of the social functionality we have built into the app. Not only can users “like” specific items and follow brands, but shoppers can actually follow specific friends of theirs, as well as Tictail brands they love to see which items they follow and like.

We also have curated lists of products that are constantly being updated and are a great way to find popular and staff picks on the site. And then our Store of the Week blog that highlights specific Tictail retailers from all over the world, often times sharing photos of their studios and workspaces.

Thanks, Carl! Next up, we’re getting a closer look at Dan Blackman’s apartment. As the Head of Brand Design, you know it’s going to be cool. Start the slideshow to take a look!