Meet the Noted @ *Noted Finalists

So, it’s been quite a week! I was finishing up judging the 194 Noted @ *Noted entries Monday morning — following a few marathon judging sessions over the weekend — and learned of the finalists late Tuesday night in what has become more of a sprint.

So, I am really, really excited about these 31 finalists — but I gave plenty of high and even perfect scores to cards that didn’t make it through this round. I don’t mean to sound like an American Idol judge, but the level of talent in this competition was such that judging was not an easy task, at all.

It’s abundantly clear that makers have responded to the events of the last year with so much carefully considered thought and heart, getting the visuals and messaging just right.

And if you thought this was a post, it’s actually more of a novel, so get comfortable! I included the info each entrant submitted. It adds so much depth to the designs, and frankly seeing the backstories made me fall in love that much more.

2021 Co.

“When painting this card, I wanted a bright, joyful mother’s day card that would stand out from the crowd. It’s hard not to feel happy or smile when looking at tulips on a bright orange/coral background! When I showed it to my partner Nicole, I had a feeling she would either LOVE it, or HATE it. I was praying it would be a go, because it was one of my favorites in the release. Luckily, she loved it just as much and it’s been a successful card in the line since then.” — Emily King

Girl w/Knife

“Like most of my cards, there’s an autobiographical element to it. Math is easier when you use accessories (at least for me).” — Elicia Castaldi


“When we saw this art from our artist Margaret Jeane Wilke we just knew it had to be a card. That striking blue with beautiful orange, white and pink textural flowers and that sage green color of the leaves, it was just so lovely. The loveliest birthday card perfect for its lovely recipient! This card is paired with a 100% Plantable Seed Paper envelope. Soak it in water, add some soil and watch non-invasive wildflowers grow. This card is both a piece of art to send to someone you love as well a gift of flowers. Made in the USA.” — Cathy Llanso

E. Frances Paper

“Postcards are the perfect way to send someone a little hello/hug/miss you/COVID sucks message. Short, sweet, fun to send and SUPER fun to receive. We introduced postcards this year and they have turned into some of our best-selling products! The Socially-Distanced Hug artwork was posted on Facebook and went viral. It was shared hundreds of thousands of times, so we knew that image was really resonating with people. Postcards seemed like the perfect way to easily and inexpensively connect with someone from afar. We included a postcard stamp with each retail sale of these postcards so no one would have to go out of their homes during lockdown to buy a stamp. These postcards have been a phenomenal hit. We are so happy that we were able to connect so many people during this pandemic!” — Ali Flippin

Lykkefund Paper

“Sometimes we all need reminding that better days are coming and that’s why I designed my new collection ‘Flower Power’ on the idea of flowers growing out of everyday objects in homage to real-life and spring. My collection was inspired by an exclusive commission card design I created for a florist in February 2021 (dandelions growing out of a winter glove). This design was so much fun to create and received such positive feedback that I decided to build a whole collection on this idea.

This collection was also inspired by an image I once saw by a gif artist, Sasha Katz, with her hybrids between plants and tech devices. I think it can be reassuring that flowers will always be there, no matter what happens in this world and no matter how our relationship between our everyday technologies and nature develops. Just like Henry Matisse once said: There are always flowers for those who want to see them.

This card collection will be officially released in May 2021 shortly before Noted takes place. With its release, it will be available for preorder for wholesalers internationally. The four submitted designs are part of a 10-piece collection; each card shows a different flower growing out of an everyday domestic object or technological device.” — Daniela-Karin Raffl

Freshcut Paper

“This line is an attempt to reduce the environmental footprint of freshcut flowers, which are often grown overseas and shipped by air under refrigeration. Our flat, mail-able alternative has less than 1/500th of the environmental impact and doesn’t end up in landfill after a week. These flower designs were inspired by illustrations from the 1850’s. We are going further and partnering with 1% for the Planet to donate funds to plant a tree for each of our flowers sold.

We are very excited by the response we have received so far. Just three months after launch, we have placed in over 900 retailers accross the US and have had a lot of positive consumer feedback. Consumers are responding to the innovative pop-open structure, the detail in the illustrations, and many comments about flowers that don’t need water. The best are from people with allergies that feel they can once again enjoy flowers in their home.” — Thomas Ginivisian 

Belle & Union

“During a hard year, separated from friends and family due to the pandemic, many people experienced heartache and loss but were unable to be with those they love most. There was a need for a serious, emotional card — which is emotional in and of itself that it was so needed. It is simple yet heartfelt, and speaks truthfully and sincerely to the heart of so many experiencing loss.

The card is letterpress printed in a light, warm gray tone, so as not to be too dark figuratively and literally due to the reason behind its purpose. The card features a hand-torn edge, which is then backed by the same warm gray to add a subtle hint of color. It adds texture but maintains the simplicity of the design, and allows the reader to focus on the sincerity of the text.” — Meg Sutton

Paper Baristas

“I grew up in an abusive home. I often read the Little House on The Prairie to escape. I would climb up on a tree so that no one could reach me and pretend that I was out on “the prairie.” Now I live in the state in which she lived. After visiting her home, I wanted to pay tribute to the person that made a home for me when I did not feel I had one.” — Christy Asper

UWP Luxe

“We wanted to create a welcoming card for those going through big changes.” — Monika Brandrup

Wolf & Wren Press

“This card was created specifically for the loss of someone in your life. We chose a more wordy sentiment that came from our hearts to those we know who have lost someone close to them. This card has already proved to be a popular sympathy card as sadly, this is a time of great loss for many of us.” — Liz Wolf

Ümlaut Brooklyn

“Just like our other design in this category real life in the best inspiration we could ever have. Who hasn’t wanted to write a letter like this at some point in their life? This design took off like a house on fire and we use it ourselves all the time.” — Jocelyn Kirouc

Girl w/Knife

“This card is for the inner-inner-inner circle ONLY. I don’t do flowery sentiments, it’s much more interesting to say the truth.” — Elicia Castaldi

Ümlaut Brooklyn

” Like so many of our cards this springs from a real life conversation. Nothing like being able to diffuse the tension and bring on the laughs! This design became a runaway bestseller almost immediately.” — Jocelyn Kirouc

Girl w/Knife

“I love exploring this theme that I call the ‘wild feminine,’ a deeper take on girl power. I started painting flowers at the beginning of quarantine. This card is one of the products that emerged from that series.” — Elicia Castaldi


“This card speaks for itself. It’s just truly breathtaking and immediately transports you straight to the desert. We think it’s the most beautiful card between the colors, the foiling, the envelope, and the sentiment!

This card is paired with a 100% Plantable Seed Paper envelope. Soak it in water, add some soil and watch non-invasive wildflowers grow. This card is both a piece of art to send to someone you love as well a gift of flowers. Made in the USA.” — Cathy Llanso

UWP Luxe

“Victorian greenhouses and the ephemeral quality of flowers inspired this design.” — Monika Brandrup

Fine Moments

“(This was) inspired by the simple equation of our youth; this design shows that cake+cocktails+candles=Happy Birthday. (It) quickly becoming a best seller after just launching less than 30 days ago.” — Jason Carberry

Lake Erie Design

“I really wanted to come out with a Halloween card that would be consistent with my current line. Incorporating some nature and florals into a sugarskull really seems to fit well! I love Halloween and am excited to be able to finally offer a card to celebrate.

This card is gold foil printed on charcoal paper and paired with a metallic gold envelope. While you can write inside with black pen, we recommend using a white gel pen. Our current cards printed on charcoal paper are very popular.” — Nikki Castiglione

Manor Paper Co.

Schitts Creek got us through quarantine and we had to show our love with this fun card. This card is a hit with all Schitts Creek fans! It’s one of our best sellers.” — Leah Pelligrino

Inklings Paperie

“Between masks and social distancing, we haven’t seen many faces this year. A good “Miss You” card has never been more appropriate. This card delivers more than just warm fuzzies, with a facial sheet mask inside to pamper the recipient. It’s like sending a spa in the mail!

This card is part of a range of five cards in the collection, and all have been received with open arms! People love the idea of sending a little gift within a card for birthdays, mother’s day or just because. Our facial sheet masks are ethically sourced, and are cruelty free, paraben free and toxin free. The facial mask is fully visible from the outside of the card packaging, making them ideal for a retail environment.” — Lindsay Henry


“Self care is such a trendy tropic, and we think of face masks and bubble baths (hence this sweet little card), but we know that self care goes so far beyond that. Self care is such an important thing for all of us! It’s important to take time for ourselves, so that we can show up as our best selves. We think sending a little self care to all your favorite people is the perfect ‘just because card.’

This card is paired with a 100% Plantable Seed Paper envelope. Soak it in water, add some soil and watch non-invasive wildflowers grow. This card is both a piece of art to send to someone you love as well a gift of flowers. Made in the USA.” — Cathy Llanso

UWP Luxe

“The inviting nature of tiny greenhouses inspired this design.” — Monika Brandrup

Girl w/Knife

“An open letter to the sky felt particularly appropriate for the times. I think this card will endure well past the haze of lockdown. There is no shortage of WHY THO moments in life.” — Elicia Castaldi


Spacepig Press

“Between Covid denialism, Q-Anon, and election conspiracy theories, 2020/21 have revealed that a depressing portion of the population is increasingly removed from reality. It’s the lowest possible bar to clear, but sometime you just gotta shake your head and be grateful for the people around you who haven’t lost it. My first print run sold out in about a month.” — Christine Byme

Next Chapter Studio

“Every once in awhile, we like to add cards to our ‘Greetings From’ line that aren’t specific to a city or state. Quarantine, and staying at home, became universally relatable during the COVID-19 Pandemic and was an intuitive addition to the line. We like that it’s a funny twist on classic concept.

This card quickly started to sell well for us, in singles and packs, and has been getting lots of attention on social media. I think people connect with it because they’re looking for fun and lighthearted ways to reach out to friends and family, especially at this point in the pandemic. I don’t think any of us expected to still be staying at home a whole year later!” — Lauren Harms

Quick Brown Fox Letterpress

“After being in lock down and quarantine for the better part of six months, seeing no one but my partner and missing all of my friends and family, I wanted to come up with some kind of card I could send that would help to connect with people. Virtual hangouts are definitely a life saver but sometimes the conversation gets stale so I wanted to come up with fun things to talk about. Daily events that we can all relate to and laugh about. Hence, my Quarantine Bingo card.” — Kate Murray

Spacepig Press

“Even as an awkward introvert, I love hugs. I also haven’t interacted with the public for more than 10 minutes in the past year. This card is a heads up to every friend, customer, colleague (and probably some strangers) that everyone who wants a hug is getting a long weird hug combined with a total breakdown in verbal communication skills.

It’s been a hit with my local creative maker community; we were used to seeing each other several times a month at markets and faires, and it’s been tough to lose that.” — Christine Byme

Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store, Brooklyn, New York

“We grew! People wanted more cards so it grew from about 1/4 in size to our biggest wall. (It’s) very visible when you walk in, even though it’s in back of the store. My student suggested it! I’m a college professor & we were using more store data to analyze sales and recommended the switch!” — Ann Cantrell

Belle & Union

“We wanted a sleek and clean, but textural way to display our greeting cards within the shop. Using crown molding to add depth and texture, we layered different styles and sizes the entire height of the wall. Some pieces were then angled out to create shelves for the cards themselves to be displayed on. The overall effect of floor to ceiling molding creates a simple but stunning impact on customers, and draws them into the card wall.

The wall itself is 22 feet wide, and 12 feet high, and we utilized every square inch to create this textural display. While it sits at the back of the shop, it is the first thing customers notice when they walk in, and it really draws their eyes all around the shop. It is hard for someone to come in and not leave with at least one card!” — Meg Sutton

Paper Epiphanies

“Every card wall and for the most part every shop in the industry looks the same. Our shop is the future. Clean, crisp, BOLD, beautiful and refreshing. People are losing their shit over it.” — Victoria Venturi


Wow! Thank you so much to our judges — Chandra Greer, Dan Collier, Chelsea Shukov and Audrey Woollen — for taking this deep online design dive. Congratulations and good luck to all the finalists — and thank you to everyone who entered! Rest assured that there are many, many more design delights awaiting you in the virtual aisles of *Noted.

Right now I am collecting samples to rush off to the other judges for the second round of judging that opens May 10. Then, we’ll announce winners at 5 pm EST May 19, kicking off the Noted festivities on May 20 and 21. Don’t miss out! Get registered here.