How a fabulous flop helped launch Fab.com

(MoneyWatch) One's a self-proclaimed numbers guy; the other an interior designer. Together, they are Fab.com. Jason Goldberg and Bradford Shellhammer launched their indy-designer housewares, accessories and clothing website a little over a year ago. Today it's the fastest growing e-commerce venture with 10 million registered members. The site sells to 26 countries and has 12,000 products listed each day. I chatted with Jason and Bradford about the perils of growing too quickly, how social media built their brand, and their fabulous flops.

CBS

Rebecca Jarvis: Are you sick of people over-using the word "fab" around you?

Jason Goldberg: We love it; we chose the name for a reason. It is three letters that mean a whole lot to people.

Bradford Shellhammer: It could be worse- they could call us other names. It's a fun word to say, we are a fun company and we really believe in the mission in what we are doing. It's a great compliment when someone is using the word to make people smile or to make a joke. It's a nice thing.

RJ: What were you doing before you and Jason started Fab?

BS: Jason and I started another company together previous to Fab. We started an app called Fabulis. After a year of working together, it wasn't gaining traction and we had some heart-to-hearts and tough conversations and decided to pivot our business. Prior to that I worked with many design retailers like Blue Dot and Design Within Reach.

RJ: How difficult was the decision to pivot and what were the main parameters that drove your decision?

JG: The most amazing thing is it was actually not that hard. We did the old business for a year and we knew it wasn't getting as far as we wanted it to get. We saw that we had complimentary skills and knew we both enjoyed working together. I'm the geek he is the creative, we trust each other and feed off of each other. We both have very similar instincts. When we both agree on something we are wildly passionate in an agreement on it.

RJ: Different talents but similar visions?

JG: Exactly, So many people said that the product we designed was beautiful and the technology was beautiful -- we just didn't get the audience we wanted to. So we thought why not start and do something we are really passionate about and we can be the best in world at it? No one brought this everyday design at all price points at all categories, color, fun, modern, taste and sensibility in one place. So we asked ourselves, "Why don't we just do it?" Literally, two to three weeks at most to change the business and all of our investors went with us.

RJ: You use social media to promote and grow your business. What happens in the future if people decide they want more privacy and don't want to share their preferences online?

BS: Before the internet and social sharing people would always go and discover great finds and would share with family and friends. That's never going to go away so I'm not afraid of that. If we were selling less exciting products I would be more afraid. Products are what's motivating people to share. It's the fact that we are selling these never before seen, humorous products that encourages people to tell others.

JG: The internet enables people to do what they already want to do, just to do it better. If the products are great, then people want to tell their friends about them any way they can.

RJ: If you could ask anyone for advice who would it be?

BS: I would bring Andy Warhol back to life. I would ask him, how he did it. I think he is the greatest source of inspiration to me. He was one of the first people I think who saw that high and low can be mixed together in equal parts, that everyone has talent and there are beautiful things in the world that we should celebrate.

JG: I would like to have a nice long dinner with Steve Jobs. He is a controversial figure, but you can't take away from him that he had things done the way he wanted them, yet was able to motivate thousands and thousands of people to work and live up to his perfection. Apple at any time has at most 10 products to sell, so it is a very simple offering. But they get them so right to be consistent. To get the consistency of the store experience with the online experience to the actual products themselves, I envy that and being able to pull that off.

RJ: Are you hiring?

JG & BS: We are always hiring, as long as there is a great demand for products we are always looking for people to help us build the company.

For more on Fab.com visit their website.

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