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.

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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] minted.com.

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.

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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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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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Mini-Minties Children’s Stationery Special Prize Winners

It’s no secret that here at Minted, we love personal stationery. And of course we all know that mini-Minties deserve fun, fresh, modern stationery too. In this challenge, we were looking for a large range of designs for all ages and all attitudes—from baby to teen, thank yous to self-expression, and elegant to edgy. Our design community was definitely up to the task. They proved that kid’s stationery can be elegant, modern, clean, and lighthearted all at the same time. Huge congratulations to these mini-Minties special prize winners!

Best over-the-top pretty design:

Watercolor” by Katie Dirksen

Katie’s “Watercolor” immediately caught our eyes. Her soft pink watercolor stain is so striking, while still staying simple and subtle. We love how the water-stained layers of pink give this design such texture and depth. This design really is over-the-top pretty—and Katie makes it look so effortless!

Runner-Ups (clockwise from top left): “Joli Monogram” by Cecile Paper Lounge ǀ “Lovely Components” by aticnomar ǀ “Cotton Candy” by Kylie Holmes ǀ “Princess Garden” by Hello Hailey ǀ “Painterly” by The Occasional Hello

Best ‘edgy’ design:

Liner Notes” by Ann Gardner

This Woodstock-inspired design has a definite edge that’s sure to appeal to both kids and adults. Ann shows off her incredible illustration skills with an understated, but undoubtedly cool stylized guitar. All of Ann’s details from the off-kilter tuning pegs to the Stangelove font to the muted color palette make “Liner Notes” both old-school rock nostalgic and fun and modern at the same time.

Runner-Ups (from left): “Happy Dayz” by Mandy Gordon ǀ “Dog’s Life” by Susan ǀ “Tag You’re It” by ERAY

Best ‘classic with a twist’ design:

The Translucent” by Maria Estigoy

We love the freshness of Maria’s “The Translucent.” The largely white canvas with a fine black font definitely recalls a classic stationery design, while the bold highlighter stripe adds a big twist. Maria kept this design simple and clean to let us focus on the name and on the splash of color across the top. We love the texture of that highlighter stripe that really makes it look hand-drawn.

Runner-Ups (clockwise from far left): “Vogue Stripes” by Melanie Severin ǀ “The Perfectionist” by Annie Clark ǀ “Pretty Patterns” by rose eckford ǀ “PenPal” by nocciola design

Best design for a girl:

Stars for Annie” by SimpleTe Design

What little girl wouldn’t love to use Erin’s “Stars for Annie?” The delicate purple and the subtle fade to white make this design so calming and ethereal, but still youthful. The adorable white stars add the whimsy that makes this such a fun and lighthearted design. The simple white text and a subtle background texture show off Erin’s amazing ability to nail every detail.

Runner-Ups (clockwise from top left): “Hearts Abound” by nocciola design ǀ “Budmo Dots and Lines” by Pink Hippo Prints ǀ “Daydreaming” by Design Lotus ǀ “Lula Hula” by Mandy Gordon

Best design for a boy:

Fish Tales and Campfires” by AJCreative

We love the masculine, yet adorable feel of Amy’s “Fish Tales and Campfires.” The soft grey is the perfect background to her fun, stylized trees and her lively river. Her simple jumping fish and sailboat give so much energy and movement to this design. Amy’s fun composition, with her river running down the side of the stationery, is sure to get any boy to want to write home from summer camp or to draw in the rest of that woodsy scene.

Runner-Ups (clockwise from top left): “Yellow Submarine” by Melissa Cundiff ǀ “I Spy” by Jennifer Wick ǀ “Simon Says” by Design Lotus ǀ “Spaceland” by Aspacia Henspetter ǀ “Beacon” by Susan Asbill

Best design that incorporates a photo:

Facts and Stats” by Up Up Creative

“Facts and Stats” is so (up up) creative! Julie’s design leaves so much room for personality and character, which is exactly what kid’s stationery is all about. Her fun facts and stats are refreshing and youthful, but they also stay clean in her lovely grid. It’s not easy to incorporate a photo into a stationery design, but Julie makes it seem so easy. We love the general flow and ease of this informative and fun design.

Runner-Ups (clockwise from top left): “Hugs and Kisses” by Alethea and Ruth ǀ “Washi Me” by Design Lotus ǀ “Pitter-Patter” by Betta ǀ “Masterpiece” by Melanie Severin

Best design for baby gift thank-you cards:

Olivia Baby” by Kelly Nasuta

Kelly really lets your newborn baby shine through in the wonderfully understated “Olivia Baby.” When sending a thank you card for a baby gift, your newborn should absolutely be the center of attention. Kelly’s clean, muted color palette is pretty and eye-catching without being distracting. Her use of varying typography adds a certain dynamism and her simple flower motif is gentle and refined.

Runner-Ups (from left): “Gifted Thanks” by Jennifer Wick ǀ “My First Monogram” by Up Up Creative ǀ “My Very First Monogram” by Cecile Paper Lounge ǀ “Thanks, Cupcake” by guess what?

Best design for a tween or teen:

Doodle Initial” by Alethea and Ruth

Doesn’t “Doodle Initial” just take you right back to junior high (albeit in a more refined way than the first time)? Rachel captures so much energy with all her hand-drawn doodles and fun word treatments. Just like any real tween’s notebook, no two doodles are the same, which keeps us staring at this design for minutes on end! We love how the carefully edited single banner of doodles keeps this lively design so clean.

Runner-Ups (clockwise from top left): “Construction Zone” by The Social Type ǀ “Gear Head” by Lovell Avenue ǀ “Love From” by k notes LLC ǀ “Doodle” by Palm Papers

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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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Typography Business Card Special Prize Winners

The Minted Community really got down to business on this one. We asked you to reinvent the business card and you certainly lived up to the task! In this challenge, we emphasized using creativity in typography. Looking through the submissions, you can see just how much typography can really say about not only your profession or hobbies, but even your personality. We awarded five special prizes in this challenge—see our wonderful winners and runner ups below:

Best design for a guy

“Architectural lines” by Susan Asbill

What guy wouldn’t love this design? We really dig Susan’s abstract line drawing of buildings, perfect for an architect or any urban dweller. The grey and yellow color palette feels mature and modern all at the same time.

Runner Ups (from left): “Type Strype” by jackmove | “Bona Fide” by Ann Gardner | “Blocks” by nocciola design

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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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