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.


Judging a book by its cover

With the launch of a new challenge I thought it might be helpful to look around for some inspiration and as it turns out book covers have a lot to offer.

Covers is an entire website dedicated to the appreciation of book cover design. It’s produced by Fwis, a design firm based out of Brooklyn, NY and Portland, OR.

It feels like Over-caffeinated could have inspired this one!

The site’s authors point out the subtleness of the title treatment.

Using font to actually mimic what the text is describing.

We’ve seen silhouettes for a long time in card designs… this book does a great job of using them en masse.

The all-type book designs with a twist might be especially inspiring to our card designers. Here the author’s dead husband, about whom much of the book is about, is spelled out in the blue type.

Great type and simple illustrations combine for a showstopping result. We’re seeing lots more birds popping up in our designs lately.

With summer closer than you may realize, I’d love to see more shell motifs!

For our Here Comes Spring Birth Announcement Challenge, Book by its Cover, lets you sort by Children’s books.

Check out these cute animal illustrations:

Browsing the site, I also came across links to a few other covet-worthy books, including this one, Russian Textiles: Printed Cloth for the Bazaars of Central Asia, that could be a great source for pattern ideas.

And this one about typeface, A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles, vol. 1:

Reading the Past shows how art has been re-used on various book covers.

Do you have a favorite book cover?


Friday flowers

Here’s to hoping that the rain dumping on us in mid-March will bring spring flowers just like May showers! Until then we have all of the beautiful floral illustrations recently created by our fabulous community of designers to tide use over.

Just this afternoon, we announced the winners from our Good Housekeeping Keep in Touch challenge. Kelli Hall’s poppies won her a first prize in the women’s personalized stationery category… isn’t it interesting to see a flower in reverse color like this?

Poppy Field by Kelli Hall

Gakemi’s stunning watercolor poppies look an awful lot like California’s state flower, don’t you think? I think that the flowers from both of these lovely ladies will make many a mother’s heart go a flutter come this Mother’s Day.

Chic Poppies by Gakemi Art+Design

Poppies do seem to be Minted’s signature flower. Cheree’s take on the poppy just launched in our selection of wedding invitations.

Preppy Poppy by Cheree Berry for Minted Select

The poppies on Bibliotheque have been a longtime favorite across multiple categories.

Bibliotheque by Beth Perry Design

I see gray everywhere these days–it sure is the neutral color of the moment. The gray flowers in Laura Hankin’s Lemon Lace also got her to the Good Housekeeping top ten.

Lemon Lace by Laura Hankin

Check out the posies on Cheree Berry’s new wedding invites in gray of all colors!

Pocket Full of Posies by Cheree Berry for {Minted Select}

Dauphine’s new wedding invitation also comes in gray.

Blooming Garden by Dauphine Press for {Minted Select}

I love Wiley Valentine’s pink cherry blossoms paired with gray type.

Tracy Wedding Invitations by Wiley Valentine for {Minted Select}

Also in the flower branch category, Annie Clark’s Apple Blossoms makes use of a gray background.

Annie Clark's Apple Blossom Wedding Invitation

And more new branches… what about these Dogwood branches in a bright yellow?

Azaria by Dauphine Press for Minted Select

Azaria by Dauphine Press for Minted Select

And late last night, we launched some additional Baptism & Christening announcements.

Marabou’s bulbs are so fresh and modern and combine to form a brilliant pattern.

Bulb Baptism and Christening Invitation by Marabou

Oscar & Emma‘s little flowers are oh, so, sweet!

Petite Fleur by Oscar & Emma

Do you have any floral favorites on the site? And anyways, what’s your favorite flower? Is it represented on Minted yet?


What Mrs. are you?

Have you checked out Mrs. Lilien yet? She does fabulous composites of beautifully designed items.

Are you Mrs. Do Good? Or maybe you’re Mrs. White Hot? I suppose, from time to time, we all wish we were a Mrs. of Leisure. Or if you’re based in our nation’s capital, you’ve faux shore recently been caught up in snow flurries. Or maybe you’re a Mrs. Kitchen gourmande. I’ve always been a bit bookish, so my personal favorite: a Literary Mrs.

The Pictorial Webster--What a great design inspiration resource!

Bonjour Mon Coussin ABC pillow

A gift for a typography lover? Bonjour Mon Coussin's ABC pillow

Penguin Classics new gorgeous covers

The covers of the new Penguin Classics are just stunning

What Mrs. catches your eye and why?


What font are you?

Hi Minties, What font are you? Try this test from Pentagram (password: character) to find out.

The application was researched by a team of 23 academics over seven years. The four key character questions yield 16 typefaces.

And does your font fit you? I am a Pistilli Roman, which surprised me at first because it’s a touch loud, but it’s really grown on me.


Altitude Design Conference

While I was out at Sundance last week, I attend the Altitude Design Summit to meet bloggers and spread the word about Minted. Here are some pics of the fabulous conference–by far and away the best conference I have ever attended. Everything ran like clockwork, the speakers were all top-notch, and everything was so pretty!
Photo: From Design Crush by ~Dezz~.

The cocktail hour had an old Hollywood glam theme, complete with a red carpet entrance.

Kelly Beall of Design Crush is on the right. She mentioned during the panel discussion on Design Theory that to keep a good work/life balance she chooses not to have internet at home, so she does all her blogging when she gets to work early. Given how incredible her blog is, perhaps not having the internet 24/7 can actually help you be more creative.

The adorable Gabrielle of DesignMom, who put on the conference is on the right. Maternity wear doesn’t get much more adorable than hers, does it?

Im in the center.

Sheila Bernus Dowd of MOMocrats, Lookiloos, and ZiaolinMama, and SVMoms fame is to my left.

Throughout cocktails these lovely cigarette ladies passed out old school boxes–that’s right, whole boxes–of candy.

Oh Joy

Erin from Design for Mankind, Joy from Oh Joy, and Jaime from Design Milk dressing up with the props in the super fun photo booth.

Jen, of GreenWeddingShoes and her super cool hubby Jason. From time to time, they even style shoots of themselves … check it out!

That’s Vane of Brooklyn Bride (center) and Kathryn of Snippet & Ink (right).

Miss Bonney

THere she is

There she is: Dooce‘s infamous Heather Armstrong.

Killer keynote panel

The killer keynote panel from left: Maxwell from Apartment Therapy, Jean from NotCot, Grace from Design*Sponge, and Heather, who announced her deal with HGTV that day. Maxwell said some particularly inspiring things that I will leave you with to start the week:

Remember WHY you started what you do. It comes through to the WHAT you do.

Jonathan Adler says the secret to success is panic! Panic can be a driving force when you have the responsibilities of running your own show.

I try to blog about me… Warts and all! What Oprah does that’s so amazing is she shares. She’s real.

Martha Stewart is OVER people! No more perfection, be real.

All photography: Brooke Dennis


Valentine’s Day picks

When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite times of year was Valentine’s Day. Every year, I looked forward to sitting down in front of a stack of pink and red construction paper, safety scissors in one hand, Elmer’s glue in the other, my adolescent creativity positioned to unleash itself in the form of accordion hearts and puns. My classmates and I would spend an entire afternoon snipping, tracing, and folding. The result, in some shape or form, for each of my classmates: a meticulously personalized brown paper lunch bag, the perfect vessel for the sharing of Valentines, candy hearts, and lollipops.

With February 14 right around the corner, the Minted team is in a Valentine’s Day-frame of mind. Luckily, we have a freshly-debuted assortment of Valentines to feast our eyes on. There isn’t a piece of construction paper in sight, but when you see how refreshingly clever and adorable these cards are, you might agree that maybe that’s not a bad thing.

My Heart For You by Vickie C

My Heart For You by Vickie C

My Heart For You won over several team members, including Robert, one of our production designers. Expanding on his initial description of the design as giving him a “happy feeling,” he explained,  “I like artwork that gives you a view of things with a childlike innocence. Very simple and good memories.” Allison, the Design Associate you may have seen in this video, agreed, saying that she loved the design for its warmth and sweetness.

Natasha holds Erin Rau’s New Baby especially close to her heart: “My friend used it for her new baby Morgan, and I got a real, live copy of it in my mailbox last night. My friend lives in Burlingame just like Erin, the card’s designer, and I think it’s so nice when people support local artists in their communities.  It is such a classy card and the red heart really jumps from the most perfect beige color in the nicest, not overpowering way. My friend also chose a sleeping photo, which is always a great choice. The baby looks so happy and peaceful!”

New Baby by Erin Rau

New Baby by Erin Rau

Others adored Message from the Birds by Moglea. Alison (with one “l”), another designer at Minted, said, ” I love the ribbon and the pennants. The hand drawn elements and dreamy clouds really remind me of carefully crafting sweet cards in elementary school.”

Message from the Birds by Moglea

Message from the Birds by Moglea

Ellen, from our marketing team, had similarly school-minded thoughts and said Kate Sawyer’s Crayon Heart reminded her of when she and her classmates used to scribble notes to each other on their paper-bag-bound textbooks.

Crayon Heart by Kate Sawyer

Crayon Heart by Kate Sawyer

Prescilla, from our production team, snagged Let’s Chill by CBeeProject for her friends and family as soon as it launched. The “super cute!” factor of the card caught her eye, and the color scheme and illustrations sealed the deal.

Let's Chill by CBeeProject

Let's Chill by CBeeProject

Mariam, CEO and Founder of Minted, thought all of the designs were incredibly clever and adorable. She ended up picking You Amaze Me by .  Design Lotus .  for her son to take to school with him because she knew her son and his friends would love tracing their way through the maze.

You Amaze Me by . Design Lotus .

You Amaze Me by . Design Lotus .

Now it’s your turn. We’d love to hear which cards you love.



I’ve been out in Park City for the ALTitude Design Summit and for Sundance so I have great design and movies on the mind. I just happened across an incredible website that is in my mind a virtual goldmine of inspiration for font and composition ideas… not to mention a great resource for your Netflix queue.

Even the films “Ends” have a lot to teach us!


Meeting up with Marabou’s Brandy Brown

I had the great pleasure of meeting up with Minted designer Brandy Brown and her adorable family over the holidays while visiting my family in Seattle. We met for coffee. Brandy has just recently starting drinking coffee and so she got a hazelnut, vanilla, mocha, which she could barely finish. (I, of course, had no trouble with my extra large latte.) It’s clear from just one meeting that this girl has no shortage of energy! We went on a power walk through Lincoln Park down to the gorgeous water, where we met up with her husband and daughter.

Brandy's husband and daughter at the beach

Brandy's husband and daughter at the beach

Have you always lived in Washington? Yes. I attended a small high school in a even smaller town.

Did you go to art school? After high school I studied a little graphic design and art history at the Art Institute of Seattle. I dropped out after a year and a half to enjoy some traveling in Europe. After returning home I landed a great job in downtown Seattle at a modeling agency.

Not surprisingly, Brandy is a former model.

Not surprisingly, Brandy is a former model

How did you get started in graphic design?
One night I came across a Minted ad and it mentioned something about a design challenge. I was immediately curious and thus entered my first competition. This month marks the one year anniversary of the beginning of my dream career. I have Minted to thank for creating such an amazing platform for independent designers.

How did you pick the name Marabou?

The Marabou Stork is a large wading bird in the stork family. I chose it as homage to my daughter, Ava. She is a never ending source of inspiration. Since becoming a mother my philosophy has been that… clean design & little people go hand & hand. Ava loves all things girly–like mother, like daughter! When I am designing for the opposite sex, I tap into my husband’s aesthetic, which is very minimal, modern, and crisp.

Brandy's daughter Ava at 12 months

Brandy's daughter Ava at 12 months

Marabous girly Brolly Valentines Day Card

Marabou's girly Brolly Valentine's Day Card

You are obviously a very passionate person… what are you in love with right now?
I love raw oysters. I’ve had the Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix CD on replay since June.
I love cats, but own two fish. I’m very particular about wrapping paper & have a soft spot for doilies.

Brandy's office

Brandy's office

A peak into Brandy's home

A close-up of a very cool chair print

Where the magic happens

Where the magic happens

One of the things that makes Minted great is that our community of designers live all over the world and so many of our designers are really inspired by the communities and geography in which they live. Consistent with the sweeping national locavore movement, we’re seeing some of our customers trying to support their communities by choosing cards designed by local designers. Brandy says she loves living in Seattle where “you’re constantly surrounded by beauty. I find lots of inspiration in nature. I’m privileged to live in the Pacific Northwest, where we enjoy all the seasons–from the cold, dark days of winter to the vibrant colors of Fall.”

I asked Brandy to share with us her top five things to do in Seattle just in case any of you are headed Northwest in the New Year.

1. Ferry ride to Orcas Island

A view from the Orcas Ferry

A view from the Orcas Ferry

2. Walks along Lincoln Park
3. Shopping at Moxie Papergoods & Gifts
4. Amtrak Train ride to Portland, OR (weekend getaway)
5. Dining at Barolo

Barolo in Seattle

Barolo in Seattle

Since Brandy had such fun Seattle recommendations and because she has an adorable little girl, I thought I’d also ask her for her favorite, well-designed baby products.

Ava's playroom

Ava's playroom

1. David Netto’s moderne Crib

2. Boon’s Flair highchair

3. Binth Baby Book
4. Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Baby Diapers & Canus Li’l Goat Milk Baby Wipes
5. Esthex Naomi Fuchsia Doll

6. Wheely Bug, bumble bee
7. Mary Had A Little Amp, by Various Artists (audio CD)

8. Wooden Doll Pram in Natural from Haba Toys

9. Birds Of A Feather Mobile

Brandy's home office

The mobile is above the mirror on the left. Also, note Brandy's beloved wrapping paper.

10. Personalized Stork Marquee on canvas

*Marabou’s #1 beverage for expectant mother’s (besides H2O)… Dry Soda! It keeps you entertained during the holidays and it’s refreshing during the summer months.

Finally, I’m fairly certain that with all of your energy and enthusiasm for life you must have a New Year’s resolution?

To learn to do my own taxes and to teach myself the language of love, French!