Meet a Minted Artist: Kimberly FitzSimons

Kimberly FitzSimons spent a decade working in investor relations and product management for leading Fortune 500 companies before becoming who she is today: a successful designer and parent of two girls. Like many of Minted artists’ success stories, Kimberly’s career transition didn’t happen overnight. As a self-taught designer, she built her creative path from the ground up and got her hands dirty with her own letterpress company before focusing solely on the design side of stationery. In this interview, Kimberly shares the wisdom she’s gained from working on Wall Street, connecting with the Minted artist community, and “learning how to fly” as a designer.

Kimberly’s style is timeless and refined with eye-catching type.

Minted: What did you study in school?
Kimberly FitzSimons:
Finance. I spent 10 years working as an investor relations consultant for several public companies and then led a product management team for a large financial technology company before giving it up to be a full-time mom and part-time graphic designer.

While I was planning my wedding in 2007, I fell in love with the letterpress printing method. Not long after my wedding, I enrolled in letterpress printing classes at the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College in Chicago. It was letterpress printing that ultimately jump-started my passion for design. I taught myself Illustrator so that I could have something to letterpress print in those classes. Eventually, in 2010, I bought a restored Vandercook (letterpress printing machine) and started a design and printing business for wedding stationery. My business grew very fast, and ultimately, I had to outsource the printing work to my commercial printing partner (Rohner Letterpress) and focus on design. My old Vandercook is still a workhorse and is now owned by Steel Petal Press in Chicago. I had a few very crazy but good years offering custom letterpress wedding stationery, but I closed my business in 2014 to focus on my family and concentrate on designs for Minted.

Fresh Christmas Wishes” holiday card by Kimberly FitzSimons

How has your former career in finance and tech shaped you as a designer?
All of my jobs within the finance and technology industries helped shape who I am today and how I think about my business. As an investor relations consultant, I worked with management teams of Fortune 500 companies and interacted with their large institutional shareholders. I learned so much about the financial markets and Wall Street, but I also learned very quickly how to ask questions, build relationships, and creatively spin a “story.” It was not always the easiest job, but it had it’s thrilling moments, like interacting with well-respected executives and helping companies plan their IPOs.

When I moved into product management for a financial technology company, I was able to use some of my previous market knowledge and relationship skills to help build and implement products for a web-based asset management and trading platform. One of my favorite parts of the job was brainstorming new product features with our engineering team in Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale, California). There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes to brainstorm, build, test, implement, and launch new products. It makes me truly appreciate all that the Minted Engineering and Product teams do for artists and their customers.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... 1  COMMENT

DIY: Golden Holly Drinking Glasses

Written by Kathleen Ballos of  Snowdrop & Co

Growing up, we had special Christmas drinking glasses that we used during the holiday season. My mom would pack away our plain glassware and swap in Christmas-themed ones instead—I loved it! I recently realized that I don’t have any holiday glasses of my own, so I decided to craft these festive ones decorated with golden sprigs of holly.

DIY Golden Holly Glasses | Julep
DIY Golden Holly Glasses | Julep

Click through for full step-by-step instructions … 

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... 1  COMMENT

Printable: Christmas Treat Labels

If you’re looking for a super easy-yet-stylish way to package up your homemade holiday treats this year, we’ve got you covered. Simply fill pint-size ice cream containers with your goodies and decorate with our printable treat labels featuring these wonderful and whimsical Christmas illustrations.

christmas treat labels
christmas cookie packaging

Click through to download these free printable labels

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on Printable: Christmas Treat Labels

2016 New Year’s Card Challenge: Special Prize Winners

We’re happy to announce the Special Prize winners of the The 2016 Cheers to a New Year! New Year Photo Card Challenge! Each year, more customers choose to send a New Year’s card to their loved ones to spread the holiday cheer in a festive way. We asked the Minted community to create fresh designs in celebration of the 2017 New Year ahead.

New Year, New Look Award

For the most unconventional, unique design in the challenge that you wouldn’t find on any other site.
Fireworks Frame by Iron Range Artery


Multi-Photo Award

For the best design that showcases multiple photos.
Staggered by Sara Hicks Malone


“2017” Award

For the best way of displaying the numbers “2017”.
A Bold New Year by fatfatin


Home is Where the Heart is Award

For the best design that showcases a specific state or location and could be used as a holiday card and/or moving announcement.
State of the Year by Sarah Brown


Funniest Award

For the best clever, witty or funny card.
Same Resolutions by Amy Payne


Copywriter Award

For the card that uses clever wording to reinvent the typical New Year’s greeting (e.g. not “Cheers” or “Happy New Years”).
Sunshine by Olivia Raufman


Classic Elegance Award

For the most elegant, timeless New Year’s design that will appeal to more traditional customers.
Elegant New Year by Amy Payne


Dress Up Your Envelope Award

This award is for the most creative envelope design that adds something extra special to the card.
naturally by Shannon


Festive Full-Bleed Award

For the best full-bleed photo card.
Modern Cheers by Kimberly FitzSimons


New Beginnings Award

For the best design that celebrates what’s new and exciting in someone’s life – whether they’re newly married or have a new baby, home or pet.
All Is New by Oscar & Emma


Get in Shape Award

For the design that best showcases one of Minted’s die-cut shapes in an original way.
bloom by Elly


Curvilinear Award

For the best design that puts a name on a curvilinear path.
Branched Border by Kelly Schmidt


Newbie Award

For the best design from a first-time entrant.
Party Banner by Julee London


Congratulations, winners!

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... 1  COMMENT

How The Presidential Election Has Impacted Holiday Card Greetings

As you receive holiday cards in the mailbox this season, check carefully: you might notice an interesting post-election trend. Minted, your source for stationery, art and home decor designed by independent artists, is also a cutting-edge analytics company with extraordinarily rich data regarding design trends, cultural trends, and anonymized consumer behavior.

In fact, as reported by Ellen Byron at the Wall Street Journal today, Minted Labs — the company’s research and analytics arm — unearthed interesting shifts in the holiday card greetings that consumers are choosing this year before and after the U.S. presidential election.

Use of the word “cheer” is down -14% compared to 2015 orders, and ”peace” and “hope” are up +14% and +9%, respectively, compared to 2015.

It’s fascinating to see the geographical differences when it comes to holiday card preferences this season. In Hawaii, “Mele Kalikimaka” and “Sand and Snow” are messages on photo cards in our top five sellers. In California, customers prefer “Happy Holidays,” while in Alabama, “Wonders of His Love” and “O Come Let Us Adore Him” are two religious greetings among the top five bestsellers. But what’s really interesting is the trend we’re seeing around non-photo cards. In Washington, D.C., one of our best-selling designs this year is “Floral Peace” by Baumbirdy, a non-photo card which depicts a peace sign created out of holiday greenery. This is the first time in our company’s history that a non-photo holiday card has been a top-seller. Typically, designs featuring photos on the front of the card dominate our holiday card sales. This is another example of how some customers are taking a more contemplative approach with their holiday card this year.

Minted Labs investigated the greeting trend when customers contacted the company after the election to ask if they could change the message on their recent holiday card orders to be more sensitive to the feelings of friends and family. In response, we took care of these customers and also created this special product page featuring holiday cards with “peace” messages. Customers may also customize their cards by choosing the perfect greeting to express themselves.

To learn more, please read Ellen Byron’s full Wall Street Journal story here.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... 3   COMMENTS

Recipe: Easy Peppermint Fudge Brownies

One of my favorite flavor combinations is peppermint and chocolate. And luckily, the holiday season is the perfect time of year for baked goods featuring this tasty pairing. These easy-to-make peppermint fudge brownies have a great mix of dark, fudgy chocolate and brisk peppermint. Thanks to a dressed-up boxed brownie mix, they are super easy to make, but they’re so decadent that no one will ever know you used a baking shortcut!

These delicious peppermint fudge brownies are super simple!

Click through for ingredients and instructions

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on Recipe: Easy Peppermint Fudge Brownies

Meet a Minted Artist: Annie Mertlich of Wildfield Paper Co.

Casual, bohemian, whimsical, vintage, organic. Those are the five words that Annie Mertlich uses to describe her style of design. As for the words we’d use to describe Annie as a person, we’d say prolific, hard worker, and unstoppable creative energy. Annie is the visionary behind Wildfield Paper Co. and the woman who works around the clock to build her brand that’s become known for breathtaking watercolor florals.

When Annie entered and won her first Minted design challenge in 2013, she was simultaneously working a full-time job that sucked the creative life out of her. About four months after winning, she quit her day job on what she calls a “hope and a prayer,” in early 2014. Although she says she wasn’t sure if she’d succeed as a self-employed creative, she was very optimistic and determined to make Wildfield Paper Co. a reality. “I had no idea at the time how big of an impact those early Minted challenges would have on the success of my business,” Annie says. Fast-forward nearly three years later, and she’s a creative force to be reckoned with. Here, Annie shares more of her experience of building her passion into a successful career as an independent designer and entrepreneur.

A Very Merry Christmas” and “Peace on Earth in Watercolor” holiday cards by Annie Mertlich of Wildfield Paper Co.

Minted: How did you discover Minted?
Annie Mertlich: I remember being so unhappy at my job and desperately seeking a creative outlet. I worked at a company doing creative work, but the environment was so toxic that I really needed something creative that wasn’t for that company. I remember browsing Pinterest for some Christmas decorating inspiration, and I came across a beautifully designed card and I followed it through to Minted. I read all about how Minted’s Design Challenges work and joined right away. The first challenge I entered was the 2014 big holiday challenge!

Did you study art or design formally in school?
I did classic training with a composite major in painting, printmaking, and drawing from Southern Utah University, a little university in my hometown. It may be a smaller university, but the art program is highly acclaimed, and they really push you to discover your potential. It was a wonderful experience, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. With a composite major, we really had to take a lot of different classes to fulfill the credit requirements. I ended up learning so many unique artistic techniques that I likely wouldn’t have explored otherwise. I never anticipated liking watercolor, but I was required to take the class and I fell in love. Bonus: I met my husband at SUU.

How many hours per week do you usually work, and what does “work” mean for you?
I’m honestly too scared to keep track — it averages at about 12 hours per day. During my busy seasons, it’s usually closer to 17 hours a day. I’m running the full business, so work is really everything from painting to posting on Instagram, billing clients to ordering shipping and printing supplies, and filing taxes to responding to emails. I wear all the hats.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on Meet a Minted Artist: Annie Mertlich of Wildfield Paper Co.

DIY: Eucalyptus Garland Christmas Card Display

Written by Sara Albers and Melissa Fenlon of  Alice & Lois

This hanging display of fresh eucalyptus is a modern way to display your Christmas cards and holiday cards. Best of all, it’s simple to make—all you need is fresh greenery, wire, and a nice long branch you can probably find in your backyard.

Christmas Card Display Ideas

Click through for the step-by-step instructions

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on DIY: Eucalyptus Garland Christmas Card Display

Recipe: Salami Cheese Ball

One of my all-time favorite holiday appetizers is the ubiquitous cheese ball. I’m not talking about the store-bought ones, but rather the irresistible homemade versions that taste a million times better. I have a couple of cheese ball recipes I love, and this easy one from my beloved Nana is among them. Back in the 80s, my grandma made a little cookbook to give to her children filled with all of her go-to holiday recipes, including her favorite Christmas fudge, the herb bread she makes every holiday season, and this tasty cheese ball. A few years ago, she reprinted the cookbook and gave all of us grandkids our own copies. It’s really fun to read through it and think about our family’s holiday food traditions.

cheese ball with salami, ranch, and green onions

cheese ball with salami, ranch, and green onions

This cheese ball is as easy to make as it is delicious. It takes about 10 minutes to put together from start to finish, and you can make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until party time. It tastes great with all kinds of crackers and breads, looks pretty on a serving plate, and gets rave reviews from everyone who tastes it. I’m excited that cheese ball season is here again and can’t wait to take this to one of my holiday parties this year!

Click through for the ingredients and instructions…

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on Recipe: Salami Cheese Ball

DIY: Felt Holly Garland

When it comes to holiday decorating, I like to come up with a fresh, new take on last year’s decorations—it’s a fun way to repurpose embellishments you already own. For this project, I turned my strand of red and white felt balls from last year’s Christmas tree into a festive garland of holly to drape over a mantel or wall.

My DIY felt holly garland pictured with Minted art print “A Deer Friend” by Andrew McClintock

Click through for the step-by-step instructions

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on DIY: Felt Holly Garland