For Minted, customer service is an Oscar-worthy performance

“Sir, I’m literally sitting on a bench with a gun on my lap. I’m calling you from a military phone in Iraq — regarding envelopes.”

That’s a slice of what an American soldier, a Minted customer, described to Donald Antoine, Minted’s customer service supervisor, in 2014. The calm-voiced soldier called Minted on behalf of his fiancée, who had ordered save the date cards for their forthcoming wedding ceremony back home in the States. They needed their return address corrected on their envelopes — and they needed it yesterday.

Enter Donald to the rescue. “Rest assured we’ll do everything we can,” Donald said to the soon-to-be husband. Donald corrected the address, reprocessed the order, and shipped the envelopes to the bride-to-be the same day. Three months later, Donald received an email from the Mrs., thanking Minted for its service.

Donald Antoine heads up Minted’s customer service team. Minted Customer Service not only benefits customers, but also our community of independent artists who produce the products you see on Minted. The Customer Service team helps “close the deal” with customers and retain them as loyal shoppers. By providing this service, we free up time for our community of artists to focus on their creative work and spend less time on administrative work.

This is just one of the stories Donald shared when we asked him to recall some of the most memorable customers he’s met on the job. Donald and his team of associates serve customers around the world, many of whom are celebrating life’s most memorable moments — weddings, births, graduations, birthdays, and anniversaries. “It’s amazing the people you come across,” Donald says, gleefully.

Donald retells a number of stories from the front lines of customer service with vigor, but one is particularly close to his heart. In 2014, Donald “hit it off right away” with a customer who was also a nearly-wed — this time, a Golden Girl who needed help with the process of ordering her wedding invitations online. She loved the elegance of many of Minted’s designs and knew she wanted crisp black text — but was searching for something a little more simplistic. Like a trio in harmony, Donald, the customer, and her fiancée talked on the phone for nearly four hours, throughout the course of a day. Donald helped to personalize the couple’s invitation design and message, and the more they talked, the more they got to know each other. Donald got choked up when he learned the customer’s first name — which is the same as his sister’s middle name. “My sister passed away in 2012, and we were very close. Then when we realized the couple’s wedding date was the same day as my sister’s passing, they started crying,” Donald says. “We established a wonderful relationship, and they invited me to their wedding.” Although he wasn’t able to attend, he’ll never forget the experience.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Kimberly FitzSimons

Kimberly FitzSimons spent a decade working in investor relations and product management for leading Fortune 500 companies before becoming who she is today: a successful designer and parent of two girls. Like many of Minted artists’ success stories, Kimberly’s career transition didn’t happen overnight. As a self-taught designer, she built her creative path from the ground up and got her hands dirty with her own letterpress company before focusing solely on the design side of stationery. In this interview, Kimberly shares the wisdom she’s gained from working on Wall Street, connecting with the Minted artist community, and “learning how to fly” as a designer.

Kimberly’s style is timeless and refined with eye-catching type.

Minted: What did you study in school?
Kimberly FitzSimons:
Finance. I spent 10 years working as an investor relations consultant for several public companies and then led a product management team for a large financial technology company before giving it up to be a full-time mom and part-time graphic designer.

While I was planning my wedding in 2007, I fell in love with the letterpress printing method. Not long after my wedding, I enrolled in letterpress printing classes at the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College in Chicago. It was letterpress printing that ultimately jump-started my passion for design. I taught myself Illustrator so that I could have something to letterpress print in those classes. Eventually, in 2010, I bought a restored Vandercook (letterpress printing machine) and started a design and printing business for wedding stationery. My business grew very fast, and ultimately, I had to outsource the printing work to my commercial printing partner (Rohner Letterpress) and focus on design. My old Vandercook is still a workhorse and is now owned by Steel Petal Press in Chicago. I had a few very crazy but good years offering custom letterpress wedding stationery, but I closed my business in 2014 to focus on my family and concentrate on designs for Minted.

Fresh Christmas Wishes” holiday card by Kimberly FitzSimons

How has your former career in finance and tech shaped you as a designer?
All of my jobs within the finance and technology industries helped shape who I am today and how I think about my business. As an investor relations consultant, I worked with management teams of Fortune 500 companies and interacted with their large institutional shareholders. I learned so much about the financial markets and Wall Street, but I also learned very quickly how to ask questions, build relationships, and creatively spin a “story.” It was not always the easiest job, but it had it’s thrilling moments, like interacting with well-respected executives and helping companies plan their IPOs.

When I moved into product management for a financial technology company, I was able to use some of my previous market knowledge and relationship skills to help build and implement products for a web-based asset management and trading platform. One of my favorite parts of the job was brainstorming new product features with our engineering team in Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale, California). There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes to brainstorm, build, test, implement, and launch new products. It makes me truly appreciate all that the Minted Engineering and Product teams do for artists and their customers.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Annie Mertlich of Wildfield Paper Co.

Casual, bohemian, whimsical, vintage, organic. Those are the five words that Annie Mertlich uses to describe her style of design. As for the words we’d use to describe Annie as a person, we’d say prolific, hard worker, and unstoppable creative energy. Annie is the visionary behind Wildfield Paper Co. and the woman who works around the clock to build her brand that’s become known for breathtaking watercolor florals.

When Annie entered and won her first Minted design challenge in 2013, she was simultaneously working a full-time job that sucked the creative life out of her. About four months after winning, she quit her day job on what she calls a “hope and a prayer,” in early 2014. Although she says she wasn’t sure if she’d succeed as a self-employed creative, she was very optimistic and determined to make Wildfield Paper Co. a reality. “I had no idea at the time how big of an impact those early Minted challenges would have on the success of my business,” Annie says. Fast-forward nearly three years later, and she’s a creative force to be reckoned with. Here, Annie shares more of her experience of building her passion into a successful career as an independent designer and entrepreneur.

A Very Merry Christmas” and “Peace on Earth in Watercolor” holiday cards by Annie Mertlich of Wildfield Paper Co.

Minted: How did you discover Minted?
Annie Mertlich: I remember being so unhappy at my job and desperately seeking a creative outlet. I worked at a company doing creative work, but the environment was so toxic that I really needed something creative that wasn’t for that company. I remember browsing Pinterest for some Christmas decorating inspiration, and I came across a beautifully designed card and I followed it through to Minted. I read all about how Minted’s Design Challenges work and joined right away. The first challenge I entered was the 2014 big holiday challenge!

Did you study art or design formally in school?
I did classic training with a composite major in painting, printmaking, and drawing from Southern Utah University, a little university in my hometown. It may be a smaller university, but the art program is highly acclaimed, and they really push you to discover your potential. It was a wonderful experience, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. With a composite major, we really had to take a lot of different classes to fulfill the credit requirements. I ended up learning so many unique artistic techniques that I likely wouldn’t have explored otherwise. I never anticipated liking watercolor, but I was required to take the class and I fell in love. Bonus: I met my husband at SUU.

How many hours per week do you usually work, and what does “work” mean for you?
I’m honestly too scared to keep track — it averages at about 12 hours per day. During my busy seasons, it’s usually closer to 17 hours a day. I’m running the full business, so work is really everything from painting to posting on Instagram, billing clients to ordering shipping and printing supplies, and filing taxes to responding to emails. I wear all the hats.

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10 Holiday Cards and Christmas Cards That Inspire Hope

The holidays are usually chock-full of cheerful celebrations, joyous occasions, and festive spirit — but what if not everyone on your mailing list is feeling very merry this year? After a contentious presidential election year in the United States, some people are opting to send Christmas cards and family photo holiday cards that focus on messages of hope, peace, and warmth. These messages will be welcomed by all friends and family, including those who are elated by the recent election and those who feel less celebratory. Here are 10 Minted Christmas cards and other holiday cards that celebrate togetherness and humble compassion.

Fanciful Pheasant” Holiday Card by Erin McManness of Atlanta, Georgia

Erin McManness says her design aesthetic tends to focus on florals, but for “Fanciful Pheasant,” she aimed to experiment with drawing simple, more geometric shapes. “Birds are a beautiful symbol of peace around the holidays, so I felt it was appropriate to incorporate them as well,” she says of her holiday card design. “I love Scandinavian-inspired design, and have been trying to infuse the ‘beauty in simplicity’ idea into my work lately. The principles of balance, unity, and symmetry were especially important in this design, as it focuses on a message of hope and peace.”


Together” Letterpress Holiday Photo Card by Kelly Nasuta of Cape Coral, Florida

Kelly Nasuta designed “Together” with her large, close-knit family in mind. “I wanted that message of togetherness to shine through because it’s really what makes this time of year so special and memorable,” she says. “My family is loud, rowdy, chaotic, and crazy, but there’s no one else I’d rather be with at the holidays.”


Lettered Peace” Foil-Pressed Holiday Card by Makewells of Fort Lauderdale, Florida

A modern take on a classic message, “Lettered Peace” is by Megan Wells, the artist and illustrator behind Makewells.


Floral Peace” Holiday Card by Baumbirdy of Chicago, Illinois

Sarah Baumgardner and Carolyn Doogan are best friends who look like sisters, and the duo behind Baumbirdy, the design team that specializes in bold, dramatic design. How do they keep their own peace, working side by side? Read their advice for creative collaboration.


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Meet a Minted Artist: Lea Delaveris

Minted artist Lea Delaveris spent a decade working tough hours in the newspaper business and loved just about every minute of it — tight deadlines and all. Now that she’s a mom of two boys and the news industry has changed substantially, she’s designed a career for herself as an independent stationery designer. “Most of my day is spent in ‘mom mode,” the Columbus, Ohio, artist says of her freelance lifestyle. “The line is quite blurry between work and play for me. I honestly don’t think I can quantify the hours I work, but I know I spend quite a bit of time at my computer. Lea says she enjoys being able to work from home and be with her kiddos. “I just wish I were better at resisting the lure of my desk, though.”

In the past six years, Lea has made a name for herself on Minted as a designer who creates clean, simple, type-drive designs. “I really like when I can incorporate a bit of humor or playfulness, too.” In this interview, the Ohio artist talks about her love of visual communication, being “Mintie spotted” by a teenage boy, and what she hopes 2017 has in store for her.

Did you study art or design formally in school?
Yes, I majored in publication design and informational graphics at Ohio University. It was sort of a journalism and graphic design hybrid that felt like it was created just for me. In high school, I was really involved in the journalism department, but I didn’t love the writing part — layout and design was my area. So when I was looking at colleges and majors and found OU’s School of Visual Communication, I knew that’s where I had to be. It was exactly what I wanted to be doing.

Give Glory” by Lea Delaveris

Before life as a wife, mom, and stationery designer, you spent 10 years working in newspaper design. Why and how did you make the transition into stationery design?
I interned at a few newspapers in college and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I liked the fast pace, quick turnaround, and the behind-the-scenes aspect of it. I admired the work of The Columbus Dispatch while I was at Ohio University and jumped at a job opportunity there just a few months out of school. I got to work with such an amazingly talented staff of artists, designers, writers, photojournalists, and editors. I have such an appreciation for the way words and images work together — and the importance of good journalism in general.

But I got in as the news industry was really beginning to change dramatically, so I had a few years of getting to do a lot of really fun creative stuff (my absolute favorite work was for an irreverent humor page), but as more and more cutbacks happened, the more scarce the fun stuff became. Between that and the hours — which were not very conducive to having a family; typically working 4 p.m. to midnight and having to be on duty some holidays and weekends — I opted to stay home when my oldest was born and start a freelance design business. I stayed on staff a few more years as a weekend fill-in, but it was too hard after that late night Sunday sports design shift, from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., to snap back into mom mode bright and early Monday morning. I do miss it sometimes — especially the people I worked with — but the newspaper world is just so different now even from when I left for good three years ago.

Colorful New Year Wishes” by Lea Delaveris

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Janine Vangool, Bonnie Tsang, Haskell Harris, and Caitlin Flemming’s Holiday Card Picks

We’re more than excited to announce our Guest Judges’ picks from three 2016 Holiday Challenges: the Cheers to a New Year! Photo Card Challenge, the Hot Off the Press Letterpress Holiday Photo Card Challenge, and the No Business Like Snow Business Challenge. Read more about Minted Guest Judges here.

Guest Judge Pick: Cheers to a New Year! Photo Card Challenge

Janine Vangool is the Guest Judge of Minted’s 2016 Cheers to a New Year! Photo Card Challenge. Janine is the publisher, editor, and designer of UPPERCASE, a quarterly print magazine for the creative and curious. UPPERCASE publishes content inspired by design, typography, illustration, and craft. Her magazine and books celebrate the process of making, the commitment to craft and the art of living creatively. Janine got her start working as a freelance graphic designer in for arts and culture clients and has also taught typography and publication design at the college level. She has been a shop owner and bookseller, gallery curator, sold a line of greeting cards wholesale, made 10,000 books by hand (with lots of help!) and has sewn her own products for retail. She has a particular fondness for typewriters, a passion that has inspired a book about their graphic history. Her debut fabric collection is launching this June with Windham Fabrics. She is often asked, “Do you ever sleep?” To which she replies, “Yes! By the end of the day I’m exhausted!” She lives in Calgary, Canada, with her boardgame-designing husband and curious son.

Staggered” by Sara Hicks Malone (launching to Minted.com soon!)

Janine Vangool selected “Staggered” by Sara Hicks Malone, saying that she likes the playful yet simple typography. “The card looks fresh and inviting, and the multiple panes for photos makes it a great choice for a family card,” Janine says.

Sara Hicks Malone is an artist from Nashville, Tennessee, who joined the Minted artist community in 2011 and has won 165 awards in Minted Challenges.


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Meet a Minted Artist: Leah Bisch

Leah Bisch certainly is a talented graphic designer – especially for someone who majored in physical geography and originally intended to be a meteorologist. As she tells the story, Leah was always dropping in and out of art classes in elementary and high school, “but it never occurred to me that I could make a career out of it.”

Here, the Los Angeles Minted artist talks more about life as a part-time happy-go-lucky designer and part-time crazed-toddler-mommy.

Where did you go to school?
While I loved art and illustration, I ended up earning my BA from UC Santa Barbara in physical geography. I know—what? My studies focused on the planet and its processes, like weather and natural disasters. I’ve always had a strange fascination with weather—I’m actually irrationally terrified of thunderstorms, so I guess it’s a good thing I live in sunny Southern California. When I was a child, my dad owned a roofing company and he was always watching the weather channel to keep an eye out for rain in the forecast. I remember being interested in watching how weather patterns form and it seemed like a cool career.

So how did you go from geography student to artist?
After college, I eventually found myself working in marketing for a winery in Malibu. We didn’t have the budget to hire designers to create promotional items, so it was on my shoulders to create email blasts, event invitations, and flyers for the company. I found that I got swept up in that kind of work—in a good way. However, I soon felt limited in my design capabilities and wanted to get a formal education to enhance my skills. I enrolled in evening design classes at Otis College of Art and Design. The more classes I took, the more I wanted to learn, and I eventually left my job and enrolled in classes full time at Santa Monica College (SMC). The program at SMC gave me a solid foundation in the fundamentals of design like typography, layout and color theory. I also committed myself to reading every design book I could get my hands on.

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Minted Affiliate Marketing 101

Minted’s Affiliate program gives Minted Artists the opportunity to earn supplemental revenue while promoting their Minted products. Minted Affiliates use trackable URLs to promote Minted products to their own social networks and followings. As a Minted Affiliate, you are eligible to earn a 10% referral commission each time you refer a customer who makes a purchase. The affiliate fee is paid in addition to any artist commissions that you receive for sales of your products. Affiliate fees are an advertising expense and are only paid when an affiliate refers a paying customer. Artist commissions are paid on every purchase, regardless of where the customer comes from.

The holiday season can be a particularly fruitful time to experiment with affiliate marketing; like many retailers, November and December are very important sales months at Minted. Regarding how much time the program involves, keep in mind that the bulk of the work will likely involve content generation (which we’ll touch on in a minute). Once you’ve signed up for an affiliate account, it’s just a matter of creating specialized links.

Here are the basics for getting started with Minted Affiliate Marketing, along with tips for success.

1. Set Up Your Minted Affiliate Account

Visit minted.com/affiliate. You’ll have two choices of affiliate networks: ShareASale and CJ. We recommend using ShareASale, because it’s the network that we’ve integrated into Minted Artist Stores.

Once you register, you should be approved within one business day, but keep in mind that during the busy holiday season, the process may take slightly longer. If you have questions, email the Affiliate Support Team at affiliates@minted.com; please tell the team that you’re a Minted Artist.

2. Create Affiliate Links 

Go here to create affiliate links. You can link to any page on Minted, and we recommend linking to specific product description pages (PDPs), as opposed to focusing all your energy on your Minted Artist Store landing page.

When a customer clicks on one of your affiliate links, a tracking cookie is placed on their browser. All sales referred by you through affiliate links will yield a 10% commission (based on sale price) and tracked via our affiliate network, ShareASale.

Minted offers a generous 120-day tracking window from first click to sale. All sales made on that “cookied” device/browser would net you a commission for the length of that 120-day window.

Please note these commissions are processed separately from artist commissions paid out directly from Minted. They are tracked and distributed by our affiliate network (ShareASale or Commission Junction).
3. Use your Artist Store Vanity URL
If you have a Minted Artist Store and you’re on our ShareASale affiliate program, you can also direct visitors to your vanity URL (yourname.minted.com), and it will automatically redirect through your affiliate URL. It’s your choice whether to direct your followers to a product details page or your Artist Store. Both options can get you credit as an affiliate.

4. Pick Your Promotional Platforms

As you’re developing a content strategy, focus on the promotional channels that work best for you. Whether it’s a particular social media platform, email newsletter, a blog, or your website, there are a number of ways that you can drive traffic to the Minted URLs of your choice.

Some Minted Artists include affiliate links in the navigation bars of their personal websites, social media accounts, and email signatures to monetize the traffic they receive to their personal blogs.

Minted Artist Kristy Kapturowski of Hooray Creative uses Minted Affiliate links on Pinterest. ”A few of my Minted designs have enjoyed a lot of action on Pinterest, so it’s a great way to drive traffic to a Minted Artist Store and spread your personal brand,” Kristy says. “It’s also a fantastic opportunity to incorporate an affiliate link to boost your commission.”

Did you know that Pinterest now allows use of affiliate links? Learn more here.

Suggested Reading: “What Are the Best Social Media Platforms for You?

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Chip + Joanna Gaines, Sweet Paul, and Girls With Glasses’ Holiday Card Picks

Back in April we announced the guest judges of our “Making Spirits Bright” Holiday Photo Card Challenge: Joanna and Chip Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, and Paul “Sweet Paul” Lowe, Editor-in-Chief of Sweet Paul Magazine. Shortly before that, we announced that blog and YouTube personalities The Girls With Glasses would be the guest judges of our “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” Religious Christmas Card Challenge. To say that a number of Minted artists were excited is an understatement.

Without further ado, here are our guest judges’ picks from each challenge, along with their thoughts about the designs.

Guest Judges Picks: 2016 Holiday Card Photo Card Challenge

Joanna and Chip Gaines (pictured above) are one of the most popular couples on TV — they’re in the business of flipping left-for-dead homes for their clients: Chip handles construction and Joanna focuses on design.

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Brain Surgery and Equal Love Inspired Lauren Packard’s Art

You don’t often hear people say they’re grateful for brain surgery, but for Lauren Packard, this life-threatening experience served as inspiration to pursue her childhood passion of creating art. By day, she works as a New York City art teacher, and in her free time, she is a mixed-media artist in Brooklyn.

A member of the Minted Artist community since 2014, her painting “Lina y Challie” is featured in the August 2016 West Elm catalog. In this interview, the New York City artist and school teacher talks about the urge to create, encouraging her students’ individuality, and the celebration of gay marriage — the impetus for her prize-winning art print in the Minted X West Elm Challenge.

Lauren Packard’s painting “Lina y Challie” (shown above on the easel) is featured in the August 2016 West Elm catalog. Fellow winning art prints in the Minted X West Elm Art Challenge are featured clockwise from top left: “Aperature + Cellular” by Jennifer Morehead, “Malachite Reinterpreted” by Leslie M. Ward, and “Autumn” by Jennifer Morehead.

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