As Minted celebrates our progress since our launch in April 2008, I thought it would be a good time to answer a question that one of Minted’s community of designers posted in the Minted forum: “I would love to know how the company has evolved over the past two years.”
I started Minted in 2007 when my daughter was 3 months old, with the desire to bring the best in design on paper to consumers. I had taken my daughter to the stationery store with me to order holiday cards and the process ended up taking several hours by the time the designs were chosen, priced, and purchased. Minted could make ordering beautiful paper more convenient. At first, Minted only sold only letterpressed invitations from gorgeous brands such as Dauphine, Oblation, Wiley Valentine, and Elum. At the same time, though, I was excited about Threadless, the online business that held T-shirt design competitions. I felt that they had the best T-shirt selection I’d ever seen, and this came from allowing a community of users to provide their opinions. I had also observed over the years that some talented people, including the artists in my own family, had a hard time getting their designs to market. Minted could provide open competitions where designers could have fun, express their creative vision, gain exposure, and have the chance to sell their stationery designs; consumers would have the chance to tell us what they wanted to buy, and together we could use the Internet to create as pure a meritocracy as was possible. (Here is where I will admit to you that a) I am somewhat rebellious, b) I enjoy up-ending industries, and c) I have a personal, emotional attachment to level playing fields and the American dream.)
So we started our own crowd-sourcing experiment. Our first design challenge was held in April 2008 and was a save-the-date card challenge with 66 entries. We were pretty surprised by the high quality of the designs submitted. Here’s the very first design challenge winner, “Bird Lover’s” save-the-date cards by The Happy Envelope. The design received a score of 3.64 out of 5.
Shortly thereafter, we launched our first holiday card challenge and were thrilled by the designs we received. Consumers agreed, and our first holiday season in 2008 was commercially successful. We realized that crowd-sourced design was something our customers wanted more of, so we continued the challenges and expanded them.
We have had 28 challenges over the past two years, sourced thousands of designs, and have had participants from 21 countries. All designers who win are paid a cash prize as well as become ‘distributed’ on Minted, earning 5% of net revenue from their design. The highest score a design has ever received was “Bellaphant” children’s birthday party invitations by Kelli Hall, which received a score of 4.02 out of 5.
The challenge with the greatest number of entries was the 2009 Minted Holiday Card with 642 design submissions. I don’t think I will ever get over the surprise and awe from seeing what Minted’s community of designers come up with. Also, I have learned how much designers can help each other through honest critiques – we have seen incredible growth and evolution of individual designers.
Here is our Minted Manifesto: Allow the best designs to surface based on community interaction and not based on where someone was educated or any other meta-data about the designer. We think this is a very good idea, and that it is the future of retail.
If you are wondering who our community is, they are creative professionals, 99% female, and they live throughout the US. Some of them have design degrees, and some of them don’t. Many are moms, some have full-time jobs in creative fields, others are freelancers, and many are well-known quite apart from their success on Minted. The designs we’ve crowd-sourced have reached hundreds of thousands of homes and made families all over the US incredibly happy, allowing them to express their personal style and love when celebrating the start of a new life as a couple, the birth of a baby, or an important birthday.
It has been a joy working with the nice, gracious, and massively talented designers in our community. If you forced me to reveal my top secret favorite designs ever submitted, here would be just a few of them:
Wow, that really speaks for itself. May excellence always win.8 COMMENTS