Meet a Mintie: Linda & Harriett.

Happy week-of Christmas everyone! This monday morning, I bring you a fine treat: a Meet a Mintie with Liz from Linda & Harriett. Liz is a relatively new member of our community, but boy did she get into our holiday challenge, submitting several stunners!

First things, first! Who’s Linda and who’s Harriett?
My mom’s name was Linda & my middle name is Harriett, also the name of my great grandmother. When I was thinking of names for my business, my husband mentioned using these names because they’re pretty old-fashioned unique names & obviously mean a lot to me. As a result, I get called Linda a lot. But I never mind because it reminds me of my mom, who passed away when I was 17.

How did L&H get its start?
I started Linda & Harriett as a custom stamped invitation business. I made rubber stamps & used them for people’s invitations & personalized stationery. It was a lot of work & a lot of hand-work, but there’s something so gratifying about putting ink to paper for an immediate result – and one that changes depending on that moment of contact – the pressure of your hands, the ink saturation, the paper, the rotation of the stamp – it all adds up to something slightly different each time. It’s fun, and I’ve just gotten back into it again.

I’ve moved away from the custom work & now concentrate on a few key products that I really love from start to finish – namely, our calendars. I love creating them, selling them & giving them as gifts. I stand by them 100% and I’ll keep doing them as long as that’s the case. Cutting back on our line has also freed up time for other projects, like creating designs for Minted!

As you know, I’ve been purchasing your calendars for five years and counting now and am a HUGE fan. How do you go about designing it each year?
My process for our annual letterpress calendar, which I’ve been doing since 2008, starts in January of the prior year and is by far my favorite project. In my sketchbook, I list all 12 months & over several weeks, I take notes on what I want to do for each month. The summer months are usually the first to fill up with ideas. I’m a total sucker for sea life images – whales, crabs, sailfish, anchors, seagulls. I could do June, July and August twenty times over each year. But back to the process. So I take notes & sketch possible layouts in January. The next few months are spent sketching the images & month titles. The last part is deciding on colors. I tape Pantone swatches in my sketch book next to the months to make sure I’m not overusing or missing a color or duplicating colors in back to back months. This is the part that definitely takes me the longest. I hem & haw over colors so much that sometimes I spend most of the day deciding on a shade of blue. I’m not really that picky of a person, but when it comes to my colors, I’m crazy. We go to print by April and debut the calendar at the National Stationery Show in May.

Speaking of the National Stationery Show, that is where I met you! Natasha told me about Minted while I was still in the thick of custom work, so it didn’t feel like the right time since I was busy with my own clients & production schedule and couldn’t imagine taking on more. Cutting back on custom work over the past year freed up some time, and I submitted my first designs this May for the Holiday Card Challenge. Sometimes I feel like I work in a vacuum a bit, so getting immediate feedback in comments & then later in sales is particularly fun for me. And I have to admit, I do love a good challenge!

I loved meeting you for the first time–I am such a big calendar fan that I was quite starstruck. What is your favorite design for sale on minted now?

My favorite design of mine on Minted right now is my Handlettered Merry Christmas card. I ordered it as my company holiday card (non photo, citron green color — so cool!) and will use it as our family Christmas card, too, with a big photo of Griffin, my one year old son. I like that it’s simple enough to let the photo shine, but has personality in the loose lettering. It feels light-hearted – and to me, that seems like the perfect sentiment for the season.

How is your letterpress work different than designing for minted’s flat printing?
Designing for flat printing is a bit different than letterpress. Letterpress printing gets more expensive with each color you add, so I typically use one or two colors, sometimes three and almost never four. And even though I can use more than three colors for flat printing, my designs for Minted have so far rarely exceeded two colors. I can’t help it:) I also think that when you’re using photos, it’s best to limit the number of colors in your design. Too much can be too much.

How does your new son Griffin fit into your work / life / balance?
When I was pregnant with Griffin over a year ago, I started anticipating work life with a baby. I realized pretty quickly that my time was about to turn to gold & I didn’t want to waste it. So with that in mind, I cut back on things in my business that I didn’t enjoy & didn’t have faith to grow. I cut back on a lot, actually. It was risky, but I am so happy I did because it’s allowed me a whole day off a week to hang out with Griffin and has given me more time for other projects, such as designing for Minted! So really, Griffin brought me to Minted:)

Isn't little Griffin's bum adorable on her Merry Merry giftag?

And we’re so glad he did!! Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season Liz!! Thank you for letting us get to know you a little better. Keep in touch with Liz over on her blog here.


Head Over Heels | Wedding Collection Winners

The Head Over Heels challenge was our biggest wedding challenge of the year. There were a ton of amazing entries this time around and for good reason. Designers had the chance not only to win individual prizes, but also to launch their very own wedding collections on Minted. The first of the wedding collections was awarded to the designer with the most designs in the top 20, as voted by the Community. Two more wedding collection winners were selected by Minted’s editorial team based on performance in the Head Over Heels challenge as well as past design challenges.

The first collection award went to the very deserving Jennifer Wick. Of the eight Jennifer Wick designs selected to be sold on Minted, three made it into the top 20, coming in at second, sixth and thirteenth! To land this many designs in the top 20, out of 1,639 submissions, was quite the feat. Jen’s gorgeous florals and clever type treatments are the perfect addition to our wedding assortment and we’re so happy the voters agreed. Congratulations Jen!

We’re thrilled to announce that Rachel Simonsen of Alethea and Ruth is one of the two Minted editor’s picks for a collection win. We were in awe of Rachel’s modern yet elegant designs in this challenge and have been big fans of her work since “Banner and Branches” won first place in our Happily Ever After wedding challenge last year. We very much look forward to launching these fantastic designs for sale on Minted. Congratulations Rachel!

Kristen Smith was also chosen by Minted editors to receive the prize of launching her own wedding collection. Kristen is a powerhouse graphic designer, having been voted into the top 20 in the last eight design challenges. Her beautiful pattern work and clean typography style has really resonated with consumers and designers alike. Congratulations Kristen!


Head Over Heels 1st-10th Place Winners!

With just a few weeks left in 2011, we’re already thinking about the upcoming wedding season. Couples come to Minted for unique, contemporary designs that they can’t find anywhere else. What sets Minted apart is the dedication, enthusiasm, and indisputable talent of our design community.

Wedding invitations seem to hold a special place in Minties’ hearts. Every invitation is a reflection and representation of an individual couple. Our designers truly understand that, in part because so many of them first found their love for design by designing their own wedding invitations. I see that personal connection in each of these phenomenal top 10 submissions. After hundreds of thousands of votes from our community and customers, here are the top 10 winners of our Head Over Heels Wedding Challenge. Huge congratulations to our winners!

1st Place: “Mountain Wonderland” by Jana Volfova

There’s something dreamy about the idea of getting married in the mountains surrounded by snow.  Jana captured this feeling perfectly with “Mountain Wonderland.” We adore the tiny gondolas and mountain peaks in the distance. Everything is tied together by the playful blend of large type for the names and small script accents.


Meet a Mintie: Palm Papers.

I’ve got the perfect anecdote to the craziness of the holiday season; a very fun interview today with Lauren from Palm Papers! Lauren shares how she recently found her passion and made a big career switch, as well as dishes on letterpressing, wedding logos, and being an Apple convert.

How does an accountant become a stationery designer?
I was always creative growing up, but never thought much about an artistic career. When I went to college (at Texas A&M University), I thought the business school was the best place to figure out what I wanted to do. I was leaning towards a Marketing degree, but when it was time to choose a major, accountants were in high demand and I actually ‘got’ the whole accounting thing (and nerd alert: I kind of enjoyed it), so I went that route. After 5 years of school, I graduated with my masters, got my CPA license and started working for an oil & gas company.


Head Over Heels 11-20th Place Winners!

For many couples all over the world, it’s not just the holiday season, it’s engagement season. While romantic proposals are being planned for Christmas and New Years, Minted is gearing up for an incredible 2012 wedding season.

Having worked in the wedding industry for a while now, I can honestly say I have never seen a more stunning collection of wedding designs as the winners in the Head Over Heels challenge. Five years ago, it was quite rare to have couples ask for modern or playful designs.  Now, couples are moving away from traditional invites towards unique designs that fit their unique personalities. The members of the Minted Design Community clearly recognize this. Everyone here at Minted was blown away by the diversity in the 1,639 submissions we received in the Head Over Heels Wedding Invitation Challenge. I feel honored to present you with the first half of our top 20, as voted by the Community. Congratulations, Minties! These designs can already be purchased by sending a special request to service [at]

11th Place: “Modern Label” by Kristen Smith

There are so many sweet accents in Kristen’s “Modern Label” that add to the perfectly balanced composition of the design. From the dots and stripes to the pattern background and modern type treatment, we’re in love with every detail.


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!


$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!


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!


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.