Special Winners of Getting Hitched Save The Date Challenge

We have spent a few weeks reviewing the entries in the “Getting Hitched” Save The Date Challenge and were thrilled to see the level of genius and creativity on display by the Minted community.  After a lot of deliberation, we were finally were able to pick the winners of our special awards.  With so many great submissions, we wanted to show you the runner up designs for each category.

These designs will all be for sale on Minted very soon!

Customer’s Favorite Design:

Flowchart” by Paper and Parcel.  This design received the most love from Minted customers – and it is one of the most unique and creative designs we’ve ever seen!  This design would have been perfect for many analytical friends.

Runners Up for Best Customer Pick Design  

Special Winners of the Happily Ever After Wedding Challenge

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth saying again. The submissions to the Happily Ever After wedding challenge gave us a tough challenge ourselves – it was incredibly difficult to pick the winners of our special awards.  Hence, we decided to show you not only the winner, but the runners up for each award.  Each winner will receive a $300 cash award, plus 5% commission on all net sales…

Best Whimsical Design

Stache + Kiss” by Penelope Poppy pays homage to the quirky chivalry of mustaches and a pouty lip – perfect for a couple who takes fun very seriously. We’ve seen the moustache trend invoked in a variety of ways, but this particular design struck us as particularly playful and well-composed.


Seattle Mintie Meet Up

I had the great pleasure of meeting Minties Nicki Brandt, Cori Sands, Maria Estigoy, and Brandy Brown (left to right below) at the very hip Bastille Cafe and Bar in Seattle (thanks Design*Sponge!).


Over several glasses of wine, housemade pate, and other treats, we managed to cover all relevant modern conversation topics, such as skinny jeans (consensus: guys shouldn’t wear them) to the best places for a hair cut in Seattle (Maria likes a place where there’s a DJ spinnin tunes), to Brandy’s recent press coverage in 425 Magazine.   Everyone loved their Design Lotus-designed T-shirts.  Go Amy!

It was incredibly inspiring to hear from Brandy about Minted’s effect on her career.  I’ve been a personal fan of her design for so long, so it was terrific to meet her in person.  We learned that  her crane logo was inspired by the birth of her daughter!

We received great feedback, suggestions, and questions from everyone.  Thank you so much for spending time with me – you all are a big inspiration for what we do at Minted.  Can’t wait to come back to Seattle to see you again.


2010 Holiday Spectacular: No. 1

Wow, I’m actually sorta nervous while writing this (and shielding my computer so others at Minted don’t see this), but we’ve finally come to the last episode of the Minted 2010 Holiday Design Challenge.  In the toughest competitive field we’ve ever had, over 1370 holiday card design entries, we are pleased to announce that our #1 winner as selected by the community, is…..(drumroll)

…. Annie Clark’s “Bright”, a design that perfectly captures the spirit, hope, and warmth of the holiday season. In case you don’t know Annie, she started entering design challenges as a Minted back in 2008, and after giving me an earful regarding how I should improve the design challenges, we got to know each other and she joined Minted in 2009.  Annie is highly regarded among her fellow Minties for her strong command of typography, incredible use of color, and for always remembering the idea behind the product.  We congratulate her on her never-ending quest for perfection, and her ability to prevail in a completely community-led decision.

Now, as many of our community know, Minted employees can earn glory and can win a place in our assortment, but are not eligible for cash prizes.  We do this in order to promote trust within our community.  Which means that by tradition, our $5,000 top prize award will now be awarded to the 2nd place winner, Sydney Newsom.  Our 2nd prize of $1,000 will be awarded to our 3rd place winner, Oscar + Emma, and our 3rd prize award of $500 will be awarded to our 4th place winner, Stacey Day.  Congratulations to all! You can view these designers and the others who made it into the top 10 on our winners page.

We have been blown away by your creativity in this challenge, and we excitedly look forward to offering all your beautiful designs this holiday season.  Editor’s Picks from the 2010 Holiday Challenge will be announced at the end of August.


A Minted Manifesto – Celebrating our First 2 Years

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.


DC Minted Meetup

I had the great pleasure of meeting Amanda Larsen, Amy Ehmann and her business partner Tina Furjanic (Design Lotus), Sharise Williams, and Allston Wise at Darlington House in Washington, DC last night.  After getting over the excitement and slight strangeness of seeing each other in person for the first time after only communicating digitally for almost 2 years, we took over the Circle Bar, distributed Minted printed gifts, and got down to the business at hand – talking about how  much we love design and stationery and how to make Minted better (with a fair amount of mommy talk thrown in for good measure – every single one of us were moms). 

First, to answer the question many of you are thinking –  Does Amy Ehmann have as much energy as I think she does?  The answer is “Yes!!”  Amy is one of the most positive, dynamic people I’ve met – very charming, persuasive, articulate, and has her mind totally in the right place, which is how to help people and things get better.  No wonder she has had such a big impact on Minted’s community.

Talking with these designers was like drinking from a fire hose of incredible ideas.  We received some good hard feedback, like ‘don’t request a design on Friday and ask for it on Monday’.  Sorry about that, everyone, we’re not going to make that mistake again.  We received great feedback on new UI experience ideas: 1) allow me to sign up for a notification when new designs are submitted to the challenge by other designers, so that I can check them out, 2) provide an option to show/hide the designer so that I am not biased when voting, 3) allow consumers to create profile pages so that you can differentiate between bona fide customers’ comments versus friends and family comments.  We got a good sense of what new products people would like to work more on.

Overall, this was a transformative experience for me, as I understood more the impact Minted is having – for example, that interaction on Minted is leading to actual, real friendships in the offline world where designers are calling each other up on the phone or meeting up in person.  This goes even beyond what I hoped for when creating Minted, which was to support the professional development and discovery of talented independent designers, and create a meritocracy where what matters is one’s talent and hard work.

But more on that later in my next post… it is late here in DC (2:08am) and I will sum this experience up by saying that I am feeling incredibly privileged to be working with the Minted community of designers.


Real Simple and the Number 10

We’re thrilled to launch our newest design challenge, which celebrates Real Simple magazine’s 10th-year anniversary with a design challenge theme around the number “10”. The magazine will be marking its 10th year of delighting readers in April 2010. Real Simple‘s art department, led by Janet Froelich, will be judging our challenge.  Increasing a quantity by “an order of magnitude” most often means multiplying the quantity by ten.  It feels to us at Minted that this challenge is an order of magnitude more exciting than others!  To inspire our design challenge around ten-year celebrations, we’d love to hear about your favorite cultural references to the number 10, or ten-year stories of any kind.


Here’s one from me to start this off.  Marc Benioff, the Founder and CEO of Salesforce.com, is quoted in “The Facebook Era” as saying that “in the technology industry, people overestimate what can be accomplished in one year and underestimate what can be accomplished in one decade”.  10 years ago, my business partner Varsha and I bought the URL www.eve.com from a very savvy mother who negotiated hard with us before parting with it.  At the time, she was using the URL to host a website for her 7-year old daughter, named Eve.  During the discussion, she put me on the phone to negotiate the sale with her daughter.  (Needless to say, that was the toughest negotiation I’ve ever had, since back then I had no experience negotiating with children, a condition that my 5-year old son has now cured me of.)  Eve ultimately got cash, stock in Eve.com, an honorary board seat, a trip to Disneyland, educational software, a computer, and lots of press interviews.  Eve.com was founded, sold cosmetics online, and was ultimately sold.  Though Varsha and I were told a few times by venture capitalists that “women don’t buy things online” (no, I am not kidding), the cosmetics business has thrived and become a big business online along with a lot of other things people didn’t think would ever be sold successfully online.  And just a few weeks ago, now 17-year old Eve reached out and contacted me through Facebook – a reminder to me of how much, both people and technology, can change in one decade.


Minted on Style Me Pretty

Not sure if our talented designers have noticed, but Abby at Style Me Pretty featured several of her favorite designs in Minted’s Seasonal Save the Date Card challenge at and asked her readers for their opinion. She has exquisite taste – I love her choices, and it was interesting to see the comments her readers left. We’ll find out her top choice soon… can’t wait!

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Congrats to the Minted 2009 Holiday Photo Card Design Challenge Winners

Natasha’s posting more about this on Monday, but after a flurry of activity and excitement at Minted yesterday we are excited to announce the winners of the Minted 2009 Holiday Photo Card challenge at www.minted.com/previous-challenge.  This was a very tough design challenge in which we received over 650 entries and 50,000 votes.  There were many designs that came close to winning, and I’m just sorry we can’t give more designs a ‘top 10’ recognition.  In the meantime, congratulations to the 3 first prize winners – Day Design, Gleaux, and Kelli Hall  – for their unique and winning vision!

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