Minted, an online marketplace that sources artwork from indie artists and turns them into printed products, said Thursday it's raised $38 million to expand the site's offerings for its design-hungry shoppers and open virtual storefronts for its artists.
The site's product line includes custom stationery and cards, art prints, and now textiles, from emerging artists who shoppers select through contests. While the product types are limited, the designs range from the classic to whimsical. An artist from South Africa sells hand-sketched black-and-white flower prints, while a designer in California has whale print fabric in her online store.
CEO and co-founder Mariam Naficy said she's grown the six-year-old site with a vision for a full line of printable products. "Textiles are a stepping stone to home decor," she said.
In a world of low prices and fast shipping, Minted has found customers, fueled by the rise of image-heavy sites like Pinterest and Instagram, who value beautiful aesthetic above all else, according to Naficy.
"Pinterest and Instagram are exposing the inside of people's homes," she said. "They really raised the bar for consumers and made them hyper-educated about design."
Companies like Apple and Target, which focus on selling products that are as pretty as they are useful, have also helped, said Naficy, an experienced Internet entrepreneur who founded makeup site Eve.com and then sold it for $110 million in 2008.
The emphasis on independently designed products made it possible for Minted to find its audience, but there's certainly plenty of competition, including the most well-known of artisan marketplace sites, Etsy. The e-commerce site said it sold more than $1.35 billion worth of goods in 2013.
Minted is growing quickly, Naficy said, but the company doesn't reveal financials.
Unlike Etsy, Minted has some quality control built in since it only allows winning artists to have storefronts. For example, the contest Minted held for textiles drew 1,400 entries from across the globe, but only 150 of those designs are on sale on the site.
Additionally, Minted handles all of the manufacturing and shipping for merchants. About 6,000 artists have won contests through Minted. The site has given 1,000 of them storefronts and plans to give more.
Last year the company had 100 employees, but has added 50 employees this year, moving into a new office that is decorated with vintage furniture, wooden, minimalists desks and carefully crafted walls lined with old books -- decor worthy of a Pinterest board.