One of my highlights of last week (okay, of this entire month) was getting to judge 137 entries for the Noted @ *Noted Product Awards. I found the level of talent to be extremely high, and as such I found myself revisiting and rejudging categories frequently. I gave out a lot of 9s and 10s, and scored a lot of cards that I felt were strong in different ways quite closely, as in tenths of a point.

Since the second round of judging has yet to occur and I am a judge, don’t expect any editorializing from me today — I’m sticking solely to three categories per post (each category of which I’ve announced with the appropriate button), publisher name and the comments they made on each submission for the judges (and now you!) to review.

Next Chapter Studio. All of our cards are printed on Riso machines, a duplicator introduced in the 1980s that’s known for its electric ink colors. This mix of fluorescent pink and yellow makes a vibrant gradient. The copy on this card says a lot, and we wanted to emphasize it with a vibrant and eye catching gradient.

Girl w/Knife. I’ve always been drawn to the symbolism of snakes. This “Fierce Creature” card design is part of a collection including journals, notepads and gift wrap. I was surprised to find that so many women are into snakes as much as I am.

ilootpaperie. From your loved ones near and far, to the strangers that extend a hand of kindness in tough times, we all have people in our lives that deserve an extra shout out and bit of gratitude for the things they do, especially in times like these. The fresh cheery colors of the card work their star dust magic with a touch of holographic charm, in combination with a message of infinite gratitude to bring a bright spot into someone’s day.

If you open the card fully to look at the outside printed design on the front continuing to the back of the card, the pattern of stars from which our little UFO springs are in a subtle infinity formation creating a visual layer that echoes the sentiment of never ending thanks. This design was part of our intergalactic snail mail collection that we introduced at the National Stationery Show earlier this year. In addition to it being one of our personal favorites within the collection, it has received an out of this world response from our stockists and audience alike.

Inklings Paperie. This past summer, my best friend was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I looked around our line and realized that I didn’t have a single card that would relate to her circumstances. Once I started designing, it was hard to stop at just one card. This copy-focused line helps address some of the “tough stuff” in life in a way that is relatable and unexpected. Kindness can be like that.

Our Kindness Mini Notes encourage spontaneous, unhindered acts of kindness! These cards are unique because the sender can write their own scratch-off message, then cover it with a sticker for a scratch-off word of encouragement that can be completely personalized for the individual.

During the COVID-19 crisis, we felt the need to expand this line to support healthcare workers and cultivate connection during a time when social distancing is at an all-time high. We have been giving out our “Healthcare Worker” cards out as a way to support those who are on the front lines of this crisis. There is tremendous power in a note of encouragement. We need to be telling our nurses, first responders, mail carriers and grocery workers, “Thank you. We see you, and we are endlessly grateful for you.’ Writing a card is such a simple act, but it is something that we all can do.

Patent Press Greeting Cards. I researched and created this 20-card collection, which I referred to as “GREETING CARDS GONE VIRAL,” in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. My intent was twofold: 1) cards that would be geared towards thanking essential workers and 2) lighthearted, but appropriate, cards that could take people’s minds off of all the bad news, reduce stress and support my belief that “Laughter is the best medicine.” 

The cards, in just a few short days, have already have already gained the attention of media outlets already resulting in several TV news features. I have also received feedback from numerous accounts and reps that the cards give them something to look forward to carrying and selling once stores start reopening.

Next Chapter Studio. We are based in New York City, and when the Covid-19 lock-down went into effect in early March, we were in shock. As everyone started hunkering down we realized that now, more than ever, people would be looking for ways to reach out to one another. Lucky for us, our Riso printer is in our home and we were able to quickly produce these cards. We’d never heard the phrase ‘social distancing’ before, but it will forever be a part of our cultural language. While these cards were created in the moment, we think they’ll having staying power and will continue to connect people long into the future.

We weren’t sure if anyone would buy these, but hoped our Instagram posts would make people smile and that they might share the post with their friends. To our surprise, these have done really well on both our retail and wholesale sites. We get lots of notes of thanks and excitement!

The Noble Paperie. After spending 34 harrowing days in the NICU with my son, these are some of the words I would have wanted to hear during that time. I felt incredibly alone, isolated, and overwhelmed, and many of our friends and family didn’t know how to support us during this time. I wanted to create a card that anyone could give to support a mother walking through a NICU stay.

The “Dear NICU Mama” card has already become a bestseller after launching this past February.

Good Juju Ink.

Q. What Inspired you to create this design?

A. Becoming a mother.

Paper Baristas. We lost a baby two years ago. It was/is so difficult, but we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. We have a new baby and we are selling the house that we lost the baby in. It fits so many seasons of life.

Ethically handmade deckled edge paper. Letterpress printed in house. Steel Gray Ink and Steel Gray Envelope.

Thank you so much to everyone who submitted! And congratulations and best of luck to the finalists. There was so much talent within those 137 entries — don’t ask me for my finalist round picks because I simply don’t know.

I also can’t close without thanking my fellow judges — Dan Collier of Daniel Richards; Audrey Woollen of Urbanic Paper Boutique, Barbara Mooney of Daisy’s Mercantile, Tory Wright of Paper E. Clips and Chelsea Shukov of Sugar Paper — as well as the Greeting Card Association.

Finally, the Awards Program will be held online from May 1, 1 to 1:30 est. Details to come, don’t miss out!

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