Get to Know: Mariam Naficy, Founder & CEO of Minted

It’s our birthday! Minted turns seven this week and, to celebrate, we’re featuring a series of blog posts dedicated to the ins and outs of our company, customers, and artists.

Minted is celebrating our seventh birthday this week and, to mark the occasion, we sat down with founder and CEO Mariam Naficy to chat about the company’s humble beginnings, how she chooses her family’s annual holiday card (can you imagine how hard that must be?!), some of her favorite things (including the design she uses for her personal stationery!), and where the company is headed next.

Mariam Naficy, CEO & Founder of Minted

Minted is seven! Looking back, what are some Minted milestones you’re most proud of?
I started Minted on my own, in the attic of my home in San Francisco. When I started the company, I incorporated it as “PaperLove, LLC” so that I could buy myself some time to find a permanent name. Over the past eight years of building this business (I started working on the company the month my daughter was born, one year before we launched), I’ve realized that it’s the journey that will matter the most at the end. I’m most proud of the team and artist community that we have built at Minted, and our decisions that involve generosity to others:

• Although we’re not a large company, we realize how lucky we are and want to give back to our community. We’re very proud of our relationships with Every Mother Counts, an organization dedicated to saving the lives of women and girls in pregnancy and childbirth around the world, and with Plant-It 2020, a nonprofit that helps us plant seven times more trees than our paper products consume. We donate a generous portion of our revenue each year to these groups.

• During our first year, I hired a student named Melissa Kim (pictured below at far left) out of Stanford Business School to join the company as Director of Finance and Strategy. Three years later, I wanted to thank her for her commitment to Minted simply because it was the right thing to do: I asked her if she wanted to be known as a co-founder of the company, and she said “Yes!”

Mariam Naficy, Melissa Kim, Annie Clark | Minted

• We’ve identified very talented early-career individuals at Minted, rotated them throughout the company, grooming them and developing their skills. Pictured above (at far right) is Annie Clark—Annie started with us in 2008 as a customer service associate when she was let go from her job at a stationery store for participating in Minted challenges. I noticed she was hugely talented and began to work with her on more and more design projects, and over time, she has become our Associate Creative Director. Annie and I made assortment picks in every single challenge for more than five years together, and she has always been superb at remembering and advocating for emerging designers. Plus, she knows every cool place to shop and eat in San Francisco (lucky for me that our desks are still just a few feet apart!).

• We decided early on that we would always under-promise and over-deliver to our community, our employees, and our investors. We have never rolled back a promise to the independent artists in our community and we never will—they are at the center of our mission and our company. Here’s an early photo (below) of me with Amy Ehmann of Design Lotus, who I consider one of the ‘godmothers’ of the Minted community.

What’s coming down the Minted pike that really excites you?
The artists in our community continually awe us with their talent—we really feel there is no form of content or design that they cannot tackle successfully. We know our artists have incredible style and taste, and we’re very excited about how their designs can be brought to decorate the home.

How in the world do you decide which holiday card design to send for yourself and your family?
It’s agonizing—I spend so much time shaping the holiday assortment, and then to pick only one… it’s like choosing between children you love. I typically don’t choose “full bleed photo” cards, though—I like cards with a significant design component, I feel that they’re more differentiated.

You have two young children. What does work/life balance look like in your own life?
It is difficult—the truth is that I had to sacrifice a huge amount of my time with my children to build a great company and be a responsible leader to our team. However, I still manage to spend the same amount of time with my kids as other working mothers throughout the country, who are working just as hard as I am—about 60% of moms in the U.S. work to support their families. I get a huge amount of help from my husband, who has always been extremely supportive and progressive, and my parents, who moved to the Bay Area once our children were born and who spend two nights each week at our house.

Describe your perfect day.
My perfect day would be a sunny day in San Francisco. I would head over the Golden Gate Bridge with my family, stop at the San Rafael Farmer’s Market, have brunch at Farmshop at the Larkspur Country Mart, and then window-shop at the cute shops there. We’d come back to the city and my husband and I would trade off for some personal time. I’d go for a five-mile run starting near Fort Mason, going all the way to Fort Point and back with beautiful Golden Gate views. Ideally, the day would end with a “date night” where my husband and I go try a restaurant in San Francisco—we like small, casual restaurants and we love to eat! Our rainy-day version would probably involve taking the kids to SFMOMA with their notepads so they can sketch as they make their way through the museum; then, we’d end up up at the café on the top floor for a nice, leisurely lunch.

Interview: Mariam Naficy, Founder and CEO of Minted
Mariam’s Favorite Things
We asked Mariam to share her current favorite art, style, fashion, and home décor inspirations.

Her Inspiration
Who inspires you: My dad, for his equal parts intelligence and kindness
Favorite places in the world: Big Sur, CA; Williamstown, MA (Go Ephs!); and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Favorite charity: I serve on the board of Every Mother Counts, which was founded by Christy Turlington Burns. Earlier this month, I flew to Tanzania to run the Kilimanjaro Half Marathon with Christy and our EMC team to commemorate the five-year anniversary of our organization;
I snapped this photo of local women as I ran by during Mile 9.  [ 1 ]
Favorite works of art: Almost anything made by Helen Frankenthaler or Robert Motherwell  [ 2 ]
Favorite poet or poem: “The Road Less Traveled” by Robert Frost
Favorite colors: This changes every few weeks, but right now on my pinboard at work I have this gold, grey, and coral-colored swatch that I love.
Fashion idol: Christy Turlington! (And this is before I started working with her at EMC!)
Daily website read: Medium, The Information

Her Style
T-shirt: J. Crew  [ 3 ]
Day bag: Lo & Sons (Style: The O.M.G.)  [ 4 ]
Favorite accessory: Inexpensive beaded necklaces
Favorite designers: Zero + Maria Cornejo
Favorite boutiques: Steven Alan, Intermix
Shoes: Right now, any type of clog from the brand No. 6  [ 5 ]
Sneakers: I wear sneakers to work a lot and I love the distressed versions by Golden Goose.
Shopping mecca: Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA; Fillmore Street in San Francisco

Her Home
Favorite piece of art in your home: This piece of art that my son made at school—I love how it looks like primitive art.  [ 6 ]
China: I love this brand Mud Australia—I’m slowly building my collection.  [ 7 ]
Stationery: Minted (of course!)—my favorite is “Wanderlust Wreath” by Grace Cobb in gold foil.  [ 8 ]
Favorite apps to play with my kids: Human Body, Elevate, Paper
Favorite apps of my own: Uber, MapMyRun, Ted Talks, Dropbox
Favorite drink: Cappuccino from Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters on Union Street  [ 9 ]
Favorite dessert: Persian sherbet called faludeh
Favorite healthy pursuit: Long-distance running or yoga
Favorite snack: Anything with seaweed—seaweed sheets, seaweed-wrapped crackers, sushi, etc.
Favorite flowers: Peonies  [ 10 ]
Favorite shows to DVR: I have very little time to watch TV, but I do watch Downton Abbey!


Photos (top four images and collage images #6 and #8): Courtesy of Mariam Naficy/Minted
Photos (collage): 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 9 / 10

10   COMMENTS
  1. NEETA SAWHNEY

    HI THERE MARIAM THIS IS SUCH NICE ARTICLE TO READ,. iT IS A SMALL WORLD i WAS BORN IN DAAR ES SAALAM IN TANZANIA WHERE MY DAD WAS A DOCTOR THAT COLLECTED MAKUNDA CARVINGS. iT IS AMAZING TO READ. THANKS SO MUCH

    YOUR MINTIE

    NEETA SAWHNEY

  2. Oma

    Thank you for sharing a piece of yourself and letting us Minties into your life (in more ways than one). Your endeavors as the Founder and CEO of Minted never fail to push us forward as a great community . . . and your generosity to Every Mother Counts, Plant-It 2020 and everyday goodwill gives encouragement to us to pursue so much more out of life and humanity. You continue to be such an inspiration to me.

  3. Susie

    So lovely to learn more about Mariam and the early days of the company. I feel honored to be part of the community and it has absolutely helped build my confidence and my career. Thank you, Mariam!

  4. Happiest Birthday Minted!!! It was serendipity how minted came into my life at just the right time. It has been and is an amazing experience to be there from almost the very beginning. As first glance, I read grandmother instead of godmother of the Minted community. LOL I am probably old enough to be mom to some of the designers… =P xoxo

  5. Congratulations on 7 years! It is a huge accomplishment and I hope you and all your team take a moment to pause, reflect and eat some cake! Cheers, Kim

  6. Olivia

    What a wonderful read! I’ll never forget my first Minted Meet-Up at West Egg in 2011. I left feeling completely inspired both by Mariam and the other designers, a feeling that has only grown over the years. Thank you, Mariam, for all that you’ve done for me personally and the community as a whole!

  7. Debra Pruskowski

    Happy 7th Birthday Minted! Loved reading about the beginnings and all the progress, starting in Mariams attic! I feel honored to be part of it.

  8. Grace Cobb

    What a surprise to see my design as Mariam’s personal stationary! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Wonderful article! So proud and humble to be a part of this incredible community! 🙂 Congrats Mariam and team!!

  10. Monica Cheng

    Thank you for sharing an inside look to your world and minted beginnings. It is always an inspiration to hear from successful working moms with a kind and humble heart!!