Among other things, Minted makes sending holiday cards seamless and special in a sea of December holiday card options. The brand changed the game by crowd-sourcing from a global community of artists who produce unique, beautiful and one-of-a-kind works of art. It’s why when we got invited to cocktails with the brand’s ultra-chic founder – Mariam Naficy – we couldn’t really resist going.
Naficy has always believed great design comes from unexpected places, which is why Minted celebrates a community of independent artist and designers who work on everything from art to home decor to stationery. But it being the month of December, we’re focused on holiday cards, and we chatted with Mariam on all things concerning the brand, holiday entertaining, design inspirations and the new online invitations (now in beta) that have us throwing more holiday events than we can keep track of…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
I come from a family that lives to eat, so this is a hard choice. I would start with breakfast at Out the Door – I’d have a warm Vietnamese coffee, coconut sticky rice, and maybe some scrambled eggs. I’d indulge myself with the raviolo with egg yolk at Cotogna for lunch, maybe with a side salad. I would wrap up the day with dinner at La Ciccia, a very authentic Sardinian restaurant that makes you feel that you’ve flown to Italy, where I would have the spaghetti with garlic oil and shaved bottarga (tuna heart) – possibly the best pasta dish in San Francisco. Can I have two dinners in one day? I would also love to end at Omakase, a new Japanese restaurant with astounding sashimi and sushi and a charming staff.
What was your inspiration to start Minted?
I have always been inspired by the work of independent artists, but also recognized how difficult it is for most to find an audience for their work. My mom’s siblings are artists and designers and, through them, I’ve understood both the fragility and the strength of the artist.
I wanted to build a platform to showcase original work of independent artists from around the world, because I felt that our brand would stay fresh forever by handing the merchandise design and selection decisions to the outside world. Also, by allowing designs and art to be selected through voting, we are allowing artists to surface based on merit alone. By handling manufacturing, fulfillment and customer service, we let the world’s best creatives focus on what they do best.
But I wanted this to be more than just a retail outlet; I wanted to create a community that would nurture new artists and help them grow. That’s why we invite the designers to ask for critiques from fellow designers and encourage a culture where all designers help each other.
Over the past seven years, this crowdsourcing approach has uncovered some incredible artists and designers and helped them establish thriving businesses. That, in turn, has enabled us to expand our business beyond stationery into art and home products. And we see more opportunity ahead for everyone involved.
What’s missing in the stationery industry that Minted fills?
Minted is all about bringing new and different talent to the marketplace. Our approach to product curation is uniquely able to draw out undiscovered talent from anywhere and everywhere- and place their work front and center for the world to discover. The work is fresh, distinctive and very much what today’s consumer wants.
How important is a handwritten note?
There’s something very personal about a handwritten note. I get a tingle of excitement whenever I find a hand-addressed envelope mixed in my mailbox. In this age of fast-and-furious, always-on communications, a handwritten note really stands out: it tells the recipient how much you value the relationship. After all, sending a handwritten note takes more time and effort – not to mention the expense of postage – than dashing off a text or email. And that handwritten note can serve as a keepsake, too. Don’t we all have a box or drawer that holds treasured handwritten memories? That’s why I believe handwritten notes will never go out of style
What do you always include on an invite to make it personal?
These days, it is fun to express your unique style both on paper and digitally. Minted will soon be launching Online Invitations (which are now live in Beta)—and we decided to create these as a rich, cinematic experience, where guests pan over a beautifully styled backdrop before seeing the invitation. My favorite way to personalize these is by uploading a personal picture to add to the backdrop.
What do you always put out at a dinner party? What do you bring to one as a guest?
Donnhof’s Riesling wines. You can buy this wine online for about $39. As a gift, I love bringing Flowers’ Pinot Noir, from the extreme Sonoma coast. I like to burn the Cire Trudon Abd el Kader candle, which seems to transport a room to a Moroccan garden.
Your favorite brunch food...
French-pressed Vietnamese coffee and coconut sticky rice with toasted sesame from Charles Phan’s Out the Door.
The best advice you’ve ever received on a handwritten note or card…
I have loved receiving personal thank you notes from Irv Grousbeck, the renowned entrepreneurship professor at Stanford’s business school, for speaking in his class as a guest. What I like about them is that he always adds something personal to make me feel special, for example a special mention of my son, who has attended these classes with me.
What’s your personal mantra?
I love what Franklin Roosevelt said when he declared war on the Great Depression: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” I think of this often.
What are the best reasons to send a note for no apparent reason? What types have you sent?
I like to leave a thank you note on someone’s desk at work, or send a thank you note to someone outside Minted who has inspired me or helped me.
What five people – living or dead – would be at your dream dinner party?
Right now, I’m very interested in the organization of people towards the pursuit of creativity, particularly making highly creative content. So I’d theme the dinner around this and invite these people: Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Ed Catmull, Peter Drucker, and John Lasseter.