A little more than a decade ago, the world of digital printing was a different place, dominated by manufacturers and largely devoid of artists and designers. In 2007, Mariam Naficy set out to change that. She founded the stationery company Minted with the idea of casting an open call to artists and designers around the world: Through monthly design challenges, anyone could submit their work, and consumers would then choose their favorites to be sold on the website. The competitions were a hit—and inevitably, a format too groundbreaking to limit to greeting cards.
“The people winning our competitions were not stationery designers—they were just general creatives. Some were graphic designers; some were dabbling on the side of not-creative jobs and dreaming of the day they would escape,” Naficy tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “One investor said, ‘Hey Mariam, you brought this gun to a knife fight,’ meaning: You brought this idea of crowdsourcing to stationery, but stationery is a pretty small category. Why aren’t you expanding?”
The company began broadening its production base in 2012, moving first into wall art, then fabric design. Within a year, it had secured a partnership with West Elm to distribute Minted’s wall art—a relationship that has more recently allowed it to step into the realm of furniture design. Bit by bit, Naficy says, Minted is testing the limits of digital design, using artists’ abilities and consumer interest as an ever-moving goalpost.
In this episode of the podcast, she discusses her company’s unique growth trajectory, how crowdsourcing reveals emerging trend cycles, and the impact of blockchain technology on artists and designers.
Homepage image: Mariam Naficy | Courtesy of Mariam Naficy