Creative Market’s Core Values, and the “3 Shits” That Shape Our Culture

When we first started building Creative Market, culture wasn’t really something I was actively thinking about. Sure, I wanted new employees to enjoy working at our small startup and be set up to do the best work of their lives, but I was way more focused on building a product that people wanted than thinking about how we all engaged with each other.

It wasn’t until we grew to a team of 8 or so that I looked around the room one day and realized that we were subconsciously starting to build a team that shared a lot of common values together. I had always heard that companies embody the values of their founders, but this was the first time it really clicked for me, and I started to reflect on why that is.

What I came to realize was that every single decision that we made as a company — from how we work together, to what we value, to who we hire, to what we build, to what we care about — was guided by an unspoken set of values. And the more we could do to intentionally shape these values, the more we could align everyone across the team to make consistent decisions in a more scalable way — “the Creative Market way”.

So we set out to define our company core values a few years into our journey, not as an aspirational set of posters to put up on our walls (though, yes, they are posters on the wall…but they’re not cheesy, I swear…), but instead as a reflection of the type of company we had already been building and wanted to be a part of ourselves.

We went through a number of different exercises to try to build a set of values that resonated (“if your company was an animal, what animal would it be?”, etc), but the thing that was most effective was asking each person on the team to put together their own list of 5 core values that they thought defined what makes Creative Market unique. We then compiled all the ideas, grouped them together where they overlapped, and distilled them down to a final set of 8 core values with the help of feedback from the team.

As we finalized the list, we had two important criteria for each of our values:

  1. They should be unique to Creative Market. It’s not enough to say we want to “be awesome”, because any company can say that. Instead, we wanted to focus on what makes the Creative Market culture special and unique.
  2. They should apply to the Creative Market community, as well. We want the way we interact within our team to be the same way we expect our community to interact amongst themselves too.

So here are our 8 Creative Market Core Values, our shared ways of working together:

  1. When shops succeed, we succeed (Creators First)
    For most shops, success means earning enough money to make a living doing what they love. By aligning our interests and optimizing for their success, we’ll always be focused on growing their businesses, which will in turn grow ours.
  2. Focus on Impact (Impact)
    Get 80% value from 20% effort. Ideas are meaningless without execution, and execution is meaningless without impact. Optimize for impact, take ownership of ideas, see them through to completion, and maximize results.
  3. Raise the Bar (Quality)
    Quality and curation set us apart. Focus, set a high bar, don’t settle, and do fewer things really well.
  4. Bring the Fun! (Delight)
    It’s not work when you love what you do and you’re having fun. Bring fun, positivity, and spontaneous delight, and make each other smile and laugh every day — it’s contagious.
  5. You Get What You Give (Passion)
    Life’s too short to spend your days working on things you’re not passionate about. Go all in, give a damn, and you’ll find that “the harder you work, the luckier you’ll get”.
  6. We’re All Students & Teachers (Growth Mindset)
    We each have unique expertise to share, and yet we always have more to learn. Go above and beyond to make each other better every day, and be helpful, humble, and open-minded to grow yourself.
  7. Pay It Forward → (Selflessness)
    Pass on your knowledge and goodwill to others so they’ll do the same for someone else, creating a positive ripple in the universe. One small gesture can get magnified many times over, to help create a better world.
  8. We’re All In This Together (Supportive)
    The strength of our team is greater than the sum of our individual parts when we all trust, support, respect, and work hard for each other. Our individual challenges are our team’s challenges, and our individual successes are our team’s successes.
See? Totally not cheesy.

The 3 Shits That Shape Our Culture

In the process of finalizing our core values, we realized we could distill the Creative Market culture down to what we call The 3 Shits:

  1. 💩 Give a shit.
  2. 💩 Get shit done.
  3. 💩 Don’t be shitty.

We’ve found that the types of people that are most impactful at Creative Market embody The 3 Shits. They give a shit about our team, our company, and our mission, including the independent creators we work so hard for and care so much about. They get shit done, and help drive the company towards an even greater impact on the world. And they’re not shitty to work with — in fact, quite the opposite, they’re a lot of fun to be around and lift everyones’ spirits.

We’ve come a long way from the early days of building the Creative Market culture, but it’s especially important to have this foundation in place for the next stage of the company. We’re scaling quickly, hiring dozens of new people throughout this year who we hope will bring something unique to our culture and make it even better. So if you’re interested in joining a team that gives a shit, gets shit done, and isn’t shitty to work with (read: humble, collaborative, and fun), we’d love for you to join us!




Lessons from Creative Market's design, development, growth, community, and leadership teams. (

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Aaron Epstein

Aaron Epstein

Co-founder & CEO @CreativeMarket. Helping creators turn passion into opportunity.

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