By involving both creatives and customers in the process, Minted has become a go-to source for well-designed goods.
Think of a recent purchase: a pair of shoes, perhaps, or a nice dinner out. Something big-ticket, like a sofa for the living room.
How involved were you in the creative process? Have any connection with the people who made the shoes or the meal or the sofa? Do you even know who they are? Probably not.
Which is why Minted stands out among e-commerce sites. It’s all about collaboration, community and creativity— among the designers who sell their goods (including printed cards and invitations, fabrics, art and home decor) via the site, and between designers and buyers. Anyone looking for greeting cards or party invites had, pre-Minted, three options: Traditional mass-market retailers selling the same designs to everyone, craft marketplaces like Etsy offering an overwhelming assortment of items of variable quality, and photo-card websites that limited buyers to a set of templates.
Minted takes a curatorial approach to its merchandise mix, which makes shopping a more pleasant experience and sets the aesthetic bar high. It handles production, winning a reputation among participating designers for turning their concepts into well-crafted products. And its collaborative approach lets customers purchase paper items and other goods that truly reflect their sensibilities.
Both established designers and those new to the site submit their works to a community-driven selection process that determines which items will be produced. Minted’s unique crowdsourced model represents a modern marketplace,” says CEO and founder Mariam Naficy. “Our model ensures quality because only the top-voted designs are sold on the site.”
Design pros might get their hackles up at the word crowdsourcing’—but Naficy’s quick to note that Minted is nothing like the sites that offer logo and website designs for practically nothing. Minted’s designers participate in the process, she says, because they value the critique from like-minded artists. “This is a community of creative people helping each other,” she says. “Many of our artists have creative day jobs where they work for clients. They often describe their time spent designing for Minted as the time when ‘I’m my own client.’ And unlike spec work, the products submitted to Minted challenges are generalizable. If a submission doesn’t win one of our challenges, you’re welcome to sell that design on your own store or elsewhere.”
Because Minted handles both sales and production—with an eye toward high-quality paper, materials and textiles from partners including Mohawk—designers get to focus on creating their original works. Most important, Naficy says, they benefit from the camaraderie of Minted’s community. “Some say being part of the community is like going to design school without the tuition,” she says.
The result? Customers have access—via a website that’s as well-designed as the products themselves—to beautiful limited-run or unique items. In many cases, a buyer can engage directly with the designer to request customized touches that make a piece really one-of-a-kind, a work of true character.
This article was originally written by Bryn Mooth and published in Issue 07 of the Mohawk Maker Quarterly. The Mohawk Maker Quarterly is a vehicle to support a community of like-minded makers. Content focuses on stories of small manufacturers, artisans, printers, designers, and artists who are making their way in the midst of the digital revolution. Learn more about the quarterly here and sign up to receive future printed issues.