The Art of Greeting Cards with Mean Mail Founder Vicky Simmons
The Art of Greeting Cards
with Mean Mail Founder Vicky Simmons
SS: Tell us a bit about yourself and when you fell in love with design.
VS: I blame my parents. I grew up in a house filled with books and colouring materials (both my parents studied illustration). I used to spend hours doing copies of the great masters work for my art homework. I love the book - A Smile In The Mind by David Stewart and Beryl McAlhone - it’s a bit old now but definitely inspired my career direction. I’m fascinated by the way we communicate. When I started university I remember my course director said ‘good design should be able to be understood by everybody’ so I always strive to achieve this within my work.
"When I started university I remember my course director said ‘good design should be able to be understood by everybody’ so I always strive to achieve this within my work."
SS: Favorite design project to date?
VS: Definitely Mean Mail, but I’ve done some fun work for Apple that I’m not allowed to talk about.
SS: Where do you typically draw inspiration from?
VS: Events, travel, books and newspapers. I like to read the whole newspaper at the weekend, especially the culture and business sections. The internet is always there but I avoid it for inspiration as the serendipity is lost.
"The internet is always there but I avoid it for inspiration as the serendipity is lost."
SS: Define your aesthetic.
VS: Engaging, playful and fun.
SS: Walk us through your creative process.
VS: I believe that form follows function, I don’t like things to exist without a reason. If I have an idea early on I’ll test it and try approaching it from different angles to make sure it works.
SS: If you could work with any brand in the world, who would it be and why?
VS: Great question. I’ve said I want Mean Mail to be the Glossier of the greetings cards industry so they’re definitely first on my list. I love everything they do. Their product range is simple, their aesthetic is on point, even the names of their products are fun to say. Apart from Glossier, there are so many other brands I’d like to work with - asos, Instagram, Google, The Wing, Various Keytags to name a few.
SS: What is Mean Mail and what inspired the concept?
VS: Mean Mail makes greetings cards for those you love and love to hate. I’m inspired by the way we actually talk to each other, not how greetings cards companies think we do. There are so many cards out there that cheerleader you, but hardly any that tell it like it is. My boyfriend once came home from a night out and collapsed on top of me on the sofa, in a warm, beery hug. I said ‘I love you, now get off me.’ This ended up becoming one of the first cards.
SS: Mean Mail is more than just a design - it's a product. How has it been different than your other projects?
VS: It’s different because it has a start point but no end point, and I’m my own client which has been so much harder to satisfy. I hesitated so much at the beginning. I’ve been sat on the Mean Mail concept for years and its only in the last two that I decided to make it happen. I thought it would be a side project but since launching I’ve quickly realised I need to work on it full time if I want it to succeed.
I’ve always wanted to grow a brand and have loved being involved with every stage of the process from conception to finished product and beyond. When I’ve done projects for clients I’ve always invested so much of myself into their project. I want their brand to be super successful and act as a consultant, going above and beyond with advice and help. It’s exciting applying this energy to my own brand.
SS: What's the next steps for the brand? Getting in-stores? E-comm only? Anything exciting we should look out for?
VS: My plan is to expand the Mean Mail product offering into other countries and grow beyond cards. I’ve just got confirmation of wholesale for my first dream retailer in London. I’ll be moving into Second Home in Shoreditch in August as I won a six month office space as part of the Cosmopolitan Magazine Self Made Summit. I’ll be launching a new product at the Art Car Boot Fair in London in July and have some exciting collaborations in the works.
SS: If you weren't a designer, what would you be doing?
VS: Directing music promos. I did a few a couple of years back and loved it.