Minted founder and chief executive Mariam Naficy knows how to fill a room.
Some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful executives showed up, together with supermodel Christy Turlington, for the launch of Minted‘s new art prints business, in Naficy’s San Francisco home last night. There was Yelp CEO and co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman, Google vice president Marissa Mayer, former Revision 3 chief executive and current SimpleGeo chief Jay Adelson, and serial entrepreneur and current Benchmark entrepreneur-in-residence Nirav Tolia. (And those were just the faces I recognized. You can see them all in the photo gallery below.)
Not bad for a company that, until recently, was known mostly for selling customizable stationery with designs created by independent artists.
The company officially launches its art prints business today, moving from stationery into the larger world of art you can hang on your wall. As part of the launch, Minted has teamed up with Turlington’s nonprofit, Every Mother Counts, which seeks to raise awareness of maternal mortality around the world. For the months of May and December this year, Minted will donate 50 percent of the proceeds from the sale of children’s and nursery art to Every Mother Counts, and will be donating an unspecified additional amount the remaining months of 2012.
To kick off the new line of business, Minted invited Turlington, Stoppelman, Mayer, and others to select their favorite art prints from Minted’s collection, which were then displayed on the walls of Naficy’s home, art gallery-style.
Naficy and Turlington met in October at Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Women” conference, and they hit it off, Naficy told me. “Minted is very centered around women,” she said, with an all-female executive team, a customer base that is primarily women, and a community of designers who are mostly women. “Every Mother Counts really resonated with me, so we thought, ‘Let’s jump in and do it.'”
“I like the synergy of putting these together,” Turlington said.
This is Minted’s first foray outside the world of stationery, Naficy said, but it’s consistent with the company’s mission of providing a platform for designers and artists to sell their work.
“For us it’s not a change of direction, it’s an unfolding from our core, which is a design community first and foremost,” Naficy said.
That message was echoed by Namrata Patel, the company’s director of product strategy.
“What we realized is that our community is not just a community of stationery designers, but one of painters, illustrators, any kind of creative artists,” Patel said. “We’re giving them an outlet for their creativity. It’s a broader community of artists.”
Most of the prints are limited-edition art prints on archival paper, and sell for $500 or less. The company thinks that’s a sweet spot in the market, just right for people who want something nicer than a poster on their walls but don’t want to spend big dollars for original art or huge paintings. For now, the prints are sold unframed, but Minted will be offering framing as an option in about two months.
Top photo: Christy Turlington, Jeremy Stoppelman, and Mariam Naficy chat at Minted’s art opening. Photos by Dylan Tweney/VentureBeat