Mariam Naficy did not inherit the Picasso gene. "I have no ability to paint or draw," confesses the daughter of an artist family. "But I love art, and I have an eye for certain things." And since she's the curator in chief (as well as the founder and CEO) of Minted, we'd say that's fair enough.
(Photography by Guru Khalsa)
Naficy may not know her way around a palette and easel, but it hasn't stopped her from curating designs from artists in 43 countries for Minted's online marketplace filled with quirky yet contemporary stationery, original fine art, home and party décor, and gifts—all impossibly cute, cool, easy to customize, and defiantly affordable. But it's more than that: Minted is a game-changer in its approach, crowdsourcing its designs from a community of artists, makers, and hobbyists, spotlighting them with online bios and web links, and then letting them decide what's fresh and what will be popular.
And, all this cute, crowdsourced stuff amounts to big business: Since its launch nine years ago, the SF–based company has raised $90 million in venture capital and counts more than 40 million global households as customers. Whoa. But you, savvy reader, must know all this already: If you've received a holiday card or wedding invitation lately, there's a good chance Minted's brand name was stamped on the back of the card.
Of course, the founder didn't pony up to the e-rodeo without warming up first. In 1998, fresh from her Stanford MBA, she cofounded the first online makeup retailer, Eve.com—the site has since gone offline, but not before Naficy and her team sold it for $100 million. She then went on to an e-commerce GM stint at The Body Shop before jumping back into the entrepreneurial game in 2007.
Today, Minted employs 350 people in an industrial-chic space with a European twist in Jackson Square—"an artistic neighborhood with some of the coolest old buildings in the city," Nacify says—and has opened, just a few blocks away, a sweet little pop-up shop geared to lovers of arts and letters, on Grant Avenue in Union Square. Set to close this December, the shop is the precursor to a permanent SF storefront to come (its location is as-yet undisclosed). "It has been a really great success and a way to introduce artists to the community," she says.
As something of a master collector, Nacify must surely have her short list of favorite artists—perhaps some of whose artworks and photographs hang on the walls of the Pacific Heights home she shares with her husband, Michael, and two kids. But she won't spill: "There are so many. Go check out the local section of the pop-up and you'll see what I like."
At Home With Mariam
"We've taken an old Victorian and opened it up to make it quite contemporary inside—I've been really inspired by Swedish design blogs. I chose very light wood floors and strong, modern architectural elements, like cold-rolled steel affixed to our wall. From a furniture and decor perspective, we love mixing old and new together. Generally, I'd describe our style as global ethnic and eclectic."
Hit the Shops
"The Alameda Flea Market, General Store, Heath Ceramics, and Flora Grubb are true retail therapy to me."
"Isabel Marant, A.P.C., Antik Batik, No. 6 clogs, Frame denim, Burberry."
"I admire and have been influenced a lot by Christy Turlington's earthy, natural, and slightly bohemian everyday style. She is a beautiful person, both inside and out. Her passionate work on behalf of mothers around the world, through her organization Every Mother Counts, saves thousands of lives each year. I've loved working with her on the EMC board, and we've traveled to Haiti, Tanzania, and Guatemala together to see firsthand the effect that EMC's contributions have on saving women in childbirth."
"I love the convenience of the StyleBee app, which sends makeup artists and hair stylists to wherever you are—this has been a real lifesaver for me."
"I'm excited to see Hamilton, coming this year to the Orpheum. I love the SF Symphony, too. For an art fix on a rainy day, I enjoy taking my children, with sketchbooks, to SFMOMA."
Eats + Drinks
"My favorite restaurants in SF are La Ciccia, Rich Table, and Omakase. I love going to breakfast at Out the Door and having the Vietnamese coffee and coconut sticky rice."