Out of the Box Gift Tag Challenge Special Prize Winners

At Minted, we’re all about the cherry-on-top mentality. Every detail counts and every part of your holidays should be exceptional, right down to the gift tag. That’s why we asked you, our design community, to design beautiful, personalizable gift tags to be the cherry on top of all our customer’s gifts this year. We love how creative all our designers were and can’t wait to see these gift tags around the office and under lots of trees this year! See our incredible special prize winners below. Congratulations to our wintry winners!

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$5,000, Hand-Delivered By Our CEO

Our CEO & founder Mariam Naficy recently flew down to Southern California and hand-delivered a $5,000 prize to Rachel Simonsen of Alethea and Ruth, the winner of our 2011 ‘Sending Good Cheer’ holiday card challenge.

Here Rachel (left) and Mariam (right) are in Laguna Nigel. Mariam said, “Rachel is incredibly talented and has a vision all her own. We had a great time over glasses of wine and with a view of the Pacific Ocean, discussing her upcoming wedding (which will be gorgeous!) and future opportunities at Minted.”

Two very happy ladies indeed!

Rachel’s winning design was Kraft Ribbon. A big congratulations again to Rachel! We’re all so thrilled for you and hope you have big plans for that check!

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Minted Holiday Cards + West Elm Accessories.

When your friends’ beautiful holiday cards start arriving at your home, how do you artfully display them? Everyone we know is seeking a solution, and we set out to provide one.

We asked the designers on our team how they would display holiday cards in their own homes. We were obsessed with the gorgeous ornaments and accessories in West Elm’s catalog this year (particularly the mercury glass votives that reminded us of our holiday advertising shoot at blogger SFGirlByBay’s house), so we asked West Elm to provide accessories to us for this post. They kindly agreed!

MODERN CRAFT BOARD: Inspired by West Elm’s Merry + Bright Collection.

This display conveys festivity and warmth, and is great for displaying many cards. It is cheerful and crafty and is perfect for offices, dens, great rooms, kitchens, and foyers. Best of all, it fits virtually anywhere, no matter how small the space. You can also make a statement by displaying a series of these modern craft boards—each focused on a different theme or color.

THE DISPLAY: The cards are pinned to the board with circle pins. All of the felt snowflake and Christmas tree ornaments that give the board dimension and texture are from West Elm.

THE CARDS: Use the envelopes and liners of holiday cards to create a ‘mat’ around each card. Minted’s kraft envelopes and patterned envelope liners add visual interest and a ‘craft’ feel.

TIPS TO Do It Yourself:

• The linen pinboard is modeled after one available at Pottery Barn. In this case, our styling team used spray adhesive to cover an extra thick piece of foam board with linen. The excess was wrapped neatly around the back and secured with strong tape.

• The pins are Tim Holtz Ideology Memo Pins and were found in the craft section at Aaron Brothers Art Supply.

SILVER FROST GREETING TREE: Inspired by West Elm’s Shimmer + Shine Collection.

We love how this unexpected arrangement provides the perfect canvas to display your holiday cards. Perfect for tabletops, foyers, holiday sidebars and coffee tables, it artfully turns everyday objects into a real focal point.

THE DISPLAY:

Branches covered with glitter are arranged in a glass vase. The overall footprint is framed with a lacquer tray, and mercury votives and felt snowflake ornaments are added to complete the montage (thicker branches and all accessories available at West Elm).

THE CARDS:

Cards with simple typography and classic colors, such as big & merry, noel stardust, and cheers happy new year’s card designs, are great because they really stand out when displayed.

TIPS TO Do It Yourself:

• Affix your holiday cards to the tree using miniature wooden clothespins for a chic rustic look (the clothespins are available at Michael’s).

• This montage works because everything is united by a silver color, and the whole display is itself contained within a beautiful tray.

• When adding additional elements to complete the display, like votives, keep in mind that odd numbers work best when adding accessories to your display.

• Don’t overdo it; in this size arrangement, just a few ornaments create a perfect finishing touch.

SHIMMER AND SHINE: Inspired by West Elm’s Shimmer + Shine Collection.

A mirrored surface, combined with shimmery ornaments and garlands, presents a rich, festive backdrop for holiday cards.

THE DISPLAY:

We draped reflective garland across the mirror and used round clips to attach the cards to the garland. The mirrored garland, glitter snowflake ornament, and mercury votive holders are all from West Elm.

THE CARDS:

Cards printed on Minted’s Pearlescent paper reflect the light of the season and are perfect for this shimmery display.

TIPS TO Do It Yourself:

-Use a light wire to gather the garland and strong tape to attach it to the back of the mirror. Then round silver clips attach the cards to the garland.

-Don’t worry about overlapping cards—it gives a great, layered result.

-If possible, display the mirror or tray in front of a similar color or texture.

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J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons Chooses Her Favorite Minted Holiday Card, Featured in Catalog

There’s just one special prize from the Sending Good Cheer Holiday Challenge that we have yet to reveal and in this case we really did save the best for last! It’s the Judge’s Pick from Jenna Lyons, the Executive Creative Director and President of J.Crew, who was a judge in Minted’s holiday card challenge. By bringing unique, colorful, and eclectic style to millions of women, Jenna has become a design icon to our generation.

Jenna Lyons in her NYC office (see the Minted envelopes on her desk!).  Courtesy of Martine Fougeron.

Out of close to 2300 submissions, Jackmove’s “Etched” is Jenna’s pick for her favorite holiday card. Jenna said this about the winning holiday card: ” This design is cool and modern. I love the simplicity—it’s exactly what I want from a holiday photo card.” A huge congratulations goes out to Jackmove’s Jack Knoebber for this top honor. Not only does Jack receive the special prize, his design has been featured in “Jenna’s Top 20 Wish List” in J.Crew’s November catalogs as well as on their website. You can buy Etched exclusively here at Minted.

Here’s the card with a picture of Jenna and her brother at left (yes, we know it is unfair that some people are both talented and good-looking).

Jack was ecstatic about this win and the exposure that he will receive from the feature in J.Crew’s catalog and on the J.Crew site. “I was shocked for a while. I didn’t realize the impact and exactly what that meant at first,” says Jack. “Having Jenna pick my card is a huge honor, and I’m still somewhat in disbelief that mine was picked out of so many great designs.”

We decided to take this partnership one step further by teaming up with a charity that both Minted and J. Crew feel strongly about. This holiday season we will be donating 15% of gross profit from the sales of “Etched” to Teach For America. Teach For America’s mission is to eliminate educational inequity by enlisting our nation’s most promising future leaders in this effort.  What could be more important to our country than improving educational opportunities for everyone?  I have a strong belief in this, as a product of an American public school (Chevy Chase Elementary School and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, in Maryland).

During Minted’s collaboration with J.Crew, I had the good fortune of taking a tour of J.Crew’s offices in New York. I admired how entrepreneurial the J.Crew culture is.  You can visibly see how the company is innovative, resourceful, and has a sense of adventure akin to a smaller company; it is no wonder that the company consistently produces design that influences and frankly blows away the assortment at other companies across the apparel industry.  Boards line the hallways filled with great fabrics and inspirations, much like the Minted offices.  One of the biggest mysteries: I am still trying to deconstruct how Jenna’s pinboard manages to combine lots of things and incredible chicness at the same time (you can see it in the picture above).  The J.Crew visit was one of the most fascinating corporate office visits I have ever had.

We’re thankful to J.Crew and to Jenna herself for taking the time to help bring the work of our great designers to homes around the world this holiday season! You can read more about the collaboration here. In the meantime, I’ll be looking forward to getting my J.Crew catalog – to see Jack’s design, but also to do some shopping for droolworthy gifts!

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Our Real Simple Ad Hits the Stands

Our November Real Simple Magazine ad hit the stands late last month and we’re thrilled to be able to share the final ad and a few behind the scenes photos. We shot on location in San Francisco at the beautiful home of Victoria Smith, the creative tour de force behind the ever inspiring design and lifestyle blog sfgirlbybay.

“All the Stops” by Campbell and Co. and “Noel Stardust” by j.bartyn design.

It was a great feat to decide on just two cards to shoot for the ad. This year’s holiday assortment provided us with so many incredible choices. In the end, we went with “All the Stops” by Campbell and Co. and “Noel Stardust” by j.bartyn design. We love the contrast between the two styles and the pop of red so nicely complemented by Victoria’s mostly black and white home.

Annie Clark and me having fun with holiday cards on location.

Suzanne Shade, Minted’s Creative Director, art directed this ad and our holiday ads from last year. She has the innate ability to pull ideas out of my head without my needing to say a thing. It’s really wonderful to be in absolute agreement when it comes to how we see the Minted brand. While last year’s ads captured the lightness of Minted, this year we wanted the feel to be elegant and sophisticated, like a chic dinner party.

Suzanne, hard at work in Victoria’s kitchen during the shoot.

Suzanne had this to say about the process, “My inspiration for the ad was my friend Victoria’s house and a shot she put up on her blog, sfgirlbybay. To me, the most fun was bringing that to life, and giving Minted the same relaxed elegance and wit that so many of her fans adore (including me!) We shot this with natural light and very little retouching. Our photographer, Annabelle Breakey, was joking during our scout: ‘This spot is so beautiful… all you need me to do is push the shutter.’ We had a ton of fun that day.”

Victoria’s Mantle. The backdrop for the Real Simple ad.

Victoria’s home is incredibly beautiful. We had a great time chatting with her about her decorating choices and eclectic style. What strikes you the most when you walk in her door is the contrast between her white furnishings and black chalkboard walls. Victoria said that she loved the dramatic difference between the two colors and the way the chalkboard walls look when you write and erase. The gorgeous mantle in Victoria’s home was the perfect backdrop for the ad. We were shocked to learn that the mantle was a recent addition to her home. She calls it her “DIY Fireplace” as she found it at Mega Salvage in Berkeley, brought it home and painted it herself. We’re so inspired.

Finding just the right accents for the cards was a lot of fun. Victoria picked up this sweet little reindeer at the Alameda Flea Market. The Alameda Flea Market is the destination for Bay Area antique enthusiasts.

We hope you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes. We thank the Minted Design Community so much for their amazing contributions to an already wonderful holiday season. Check out their beautiful Minted holiday cards here.

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Holiday Minibook and New Year’s Card Challenge Special Prize Winners

We’re all still reeling from the Sending Good Cheer winners, but there are even more holiday winners to announce! In our Holiday Minibook and New Year’s Card Challenge, we asked our designers to create end of the year holiday designs for flat cards and for our signature Minibook format. These cards will be a wonderful way to spread the holiday love and to ring in the New Year with friends and family. Congratulations to our winners!

Customer Favorite Minibook

“Technicolor Snowflake” by nocciola design

We love the sweet simplicity of Jessica’s “Technicolor Snowflake” and apparently our customers do too. The modern, bright colorblocks perfectly complement the clean opaque dots that mark each page. Pair those details with the straight lines and simple shapes of the minimalist snowflake and you’ve got one very chic Minibook.

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Sending Good Cheer Special Award Winners

I hope you’re all as thrilled as I am about yesterday’s announcement of the top 20 winning holiday card designs. The Minted team has now recovered from its collective all-nighter in the office. (We had a wonderful visit today from Megan of Toast & Laurel, who was in town from Houston with her husband Greg. We took them out to lunch nearby, and now I’m back to finish this post!)

In addition to the community voted winners, the Minted design team and I have chosen an additional 19 Special Prize winners for designs that met one of our specific categories. We’ve already announced the Trailblazer Award for Kelli Hall’s “Grande Noel,” the Whimsy Award for Alex Elko’s “Frosty Paws,” and one of the Advertising Awards for Cecile Paper Lounge’s “Fleurs de Noel.” Today I’m excited to congratulate the remaining 16 winners and the Collection Award winners:

The Collection Award winners

In addition to our special prizes, we decided to award four designers the chance to launch a collection of 7 holiday cards on Minted.com. The two designers with the most designs in the top 100 designs and two additional designers chosen by Minted’s editors will receive the Collection Awards. Palm Papers and b. wise are the two designers who have the most designs in the top 100.  Minted has selected another two designers to receive the collection award – j. bartyn and Toast & Laurel.  We chose these two designers because they tied for having the 3rd largest number of designs in the top 100. Congratulations to these four designers for their massive accomplishment in such a talented field of competition.

The Big Picture Award for the best full-bleed holiday photo card design

Simply Noel” by Alex Elko Design

Alex’s beautifully crafted script is simple and powerful, and we love the contrast with the minimalist type used above for the family name. The swashes are bold and delicate while the uneven and textured edges give the design a handcrafted, rustic feel.

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The Top 10 Sending Good Cheer Winners

For four years, Minted has sourced holiday cards in an open-submission call to the best designers in the world. In 2008, we received 110 entries; in 2009 637 entries, in 2010 1341 entries, and this year we received 2251 entries. This year, we were awed by the quality and quantity of design submissions. We saw beauty in so many designs that it became an almost impossible task to pick just a few.

Thankfully, we use the votes of the Minted community (consumers and designers) to help determine our assortment.  We are careful to remove ‘bad’ voting behavior that we feel is trying to swing the vote unnaturally.  One thing we have noticed is that the Minted community are tough graders; the top placing design in this challenge achieved a score of 3.51 out of 5.  While there has been a lot of debate in the Minted community about why great designs receive scores of “1” at all, I believe these are legitimate scores because there is true difference of opinion regarding design.  If anything, the Internet has enabled greater fragmentation of taste.  Individuality of style and self-expression are encouraged within the community at Minted; we should celebrate the “1s” as well as the “5s” as these scores are a reflection of the diversity of taste in the community.

OK, so at this point I will stop blathering on about voting because I know that this is not what you are interested in reading about.  It is 2:47am here at the office and we are here listening to Lady Gaga and other dance music.  We’re excited to launch these designs, and we’re even more excited for our customers to have access to them.

Among thousands, here are the 10 top voted designs from our Sending Good Cheer Holiday Challenge. I couldn’t be more thrilled to say congratulations to you all.

1st place: “Kraft Ribbon” by Alethea & Ruth

We are very excited that “Kraft Ribbon” by Alethea and Ruth was voted number one, winning the grand prize of $5,000.  This card was distinguished by its popularity among consumers and designers alike, and it was a personal favorite among many at Minted.  I happen to be flying down to Southern California shortly and will be delivering a $5,000 check to Rachel Simonsen of Alethea and Ruth myself.

This card is the very definition of beautiful. Rachel of Alethea & Ruth weaves together a crisp kraft paper background, soft colors, and a gorgeous hand-illustrated greeting. We’ve just celebrated one year of having Alethea & Ruth as part of the community and look forward to many more awe inspiring designs.

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Sending Good Cheer 11th-20th Place Winners!

Hi everyone,

We’ve all been going holiday-crazy for months now and we know the Minted design community has been too. For all you designers who donned holiday sweaters in May and who celebrated Christmas in July (and August and September), the wait is over! This challenge blew us away—over 2,200 strong submissions, 3,000 voters, and nearly 450,000 votes later, an announcement of the incredibly talented 11th-20th place winners. To properly celebrate these gorgeous designs, we are announcing the 11th-20th place winners today. We will follow with our announcement of the 1st-10th place winners tomorrow, including a commentary about our voting process.

We would like to say one thing to all designers who participated: we thank you for participating in the Minted holiday card design challenge, and we and other Minted designers are here to continue to enable your creativity, growth, and careers. We have seen immense growth among designers within a matter of months; please believe us that if you didn’t place in the top 20 in this challenge, you shouldn’t give up – your place in the limelight is coming soon.

And now… Congratulations to the creators of these designs, which have been lauded as some of the best by consumers and designers alike:

11th Place: “Merry Everything Bright” by Laura Hankins

Each and every detailed letter in the vibrant greeting that dances across the top of “Merry Everything Bright” is unique and positively perfect. We especially love the wreath hanging from the “G.”  This was the top-ranked multiple-photo card in the entire challenge.

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Bright Lights! Minted launches Diwali Cards for the 2011 Holiday Season.

We are excited to bring the colors of India to you through Minted’s new collection of Diwali cards. Diwali cards are sent out to loved ones, business clients, and friends to celebrate the festival of lights, celebrated on October 26th this year.

Minted designer Kimberly Morgan’s “Tree of Life Diwali Card” was the highest rated Diwali design in the International Celebration challenge, as voted by thousands of customers, designers, and stationery lovers around the world. “I was not at all familiar with Diwali before, so it was very fun to have an opportunity to learn about it for this challenge,” says Morgan. “My Tree of Life design was inspired by a beautiful vintage tapestry I found while researching Indian art. It was a great challenge and I loved working with such vibrant, intense colors.”

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