Fall 2013 Fall 2013
THE COLOR WHEEL: MINT
15 Great Gifts
Occasions Design Issue
designer P R O F I L E
One for the
BY SARAH SCHWARTZ EDITOR
Direction of the Line: Bright white paper “just sings” with bold colors so regardless of color scheme and pattern, designs always look clean, crisp and bright. Circle 189 All photographs courtesy of May Designs
hen it comes to May Designs, necessity was truly the mother of invention. After college, Mica May, CEO and designer, launched a graphic design firm. When she couldn’t find notebooks she liked — “I personally feel confined by lines,” she confided — May created some for herself. Her clients were soon asking for designs featuring the logos she’d created for them. Very quickly, the May Books concept was born, as was a winning equation. Today May Designs’ notebooks are tailored into completely customized creations via pattern, monogram, initial or name and type of page, from agenda to address book, dot to blank. Notes launched in October 2012 and embrace the same concept, integrating engaging envelope liners and back printing. While product can be customized online, brick-and-mortar clients get a “swatch book,” a notebook full of available patterns with each color scheme as well as fonts and monograms. Baby and bump diaries, as well as initialed merchandise, garner impulse buys. Stationery Trends interviewed the inadvertent innovator to learn more about the line.
BY THE BOOK ST: Can you describe your first notebooks? MM: There wasn’t a notebook that had the inside pages I wanted, so I made an assortment of inside pages that were fun for me to use. My first designs were designed for specific companies using their logo/color scheme. We also did a lot of women’s conference books, where we created custom insides with the speaker’s info, agenda (plus) places for note taking. I think what set us apart from the beginning is the ability to customize the entire book. You can order 1 or 100,000. ST: As your line evolved, how did the notebooks change? MM: After the custom books were in full swing, I began designing patterns for the books. I realized that my friends were interested, but they didn’t have a company logo. So for a few years, May Books were simply patterned journals. Then, in October 2011, I added the ability to add a monogram/name to the front. I am proud to say that I still love our canvas covers, sewn binding and small 5-inch by-8-inch size, which I don’t ever anticipate changing. (What) has changed is the assortment of inside pages we offer: a variety of agendas, pregnancy and newborn journals, a diet/ exercise journal, a meal planner, kid’s handwriting and doodle books and more. ST: Where do you find inspiration for patterns and color palettes? MM: Everywhere! I see patterns in the everyday, like rooftop shingles overlapping, water lines on the concrete and of course textiles.
Top: New This Season: Diagonal-lined envelope liners perfectly coordinate with every pattern. Circle 190 Bottom: Current Personal Favorite: Right now May is using this Aqua Zebra with a hot pink monogram; inside the book holds monthly agendas and dotted pages, for note-taking. Circle 191
ST: What do your personal May Designs notebook and note look like? MM: I typically fill up my own May Book in a month or so, which is fun because I can change up the pattern. My newest book is the Aqua Zebra with a hot pink monogram, but the most important part is the inside pages. I always use the Months + Dots insides, which allows me to do some long term planning and scheduling in the months at the beginning of the book, but write notes for day-to-day happenings on the dotted pages. As for May Notes, the Ikat Navy Dots are my current fave — with the retro M on the front. stationerytrendsmag.com
PERSONAL NOTES ST: Can you describe a typical day? MM: Every day is totally different! We could be working on a photo shoot, designing new patterns, shipping off PR samples, working on e-blasts or dreaming up new social media contests. We’re on a mission to find the best cupcakes in Houston, so we have been taste testing once a week. As a mom of three little kids — (aged) 5 weeks, 3 and 4 years — I work hard and play hard. I’m in the studio office 8:30-2, and then I try and spend the afternoon with the kids. Then, I’m typically back to my computer for a few hours in the evenings to wrap up the day and get ready for the next one. ST: What is your favorite aspect of running your business? MM: Besides actually loving the work, I love that I can run the business from my phone/email a lot of the time. I have an incredible staff that shares the same (family) values, so if my kids are sick or have a school event, I can be flexible. I’ve written blog posts from the doctor’s office, (had) conference calls with my kids playing at the park and have endless texts back and forth with my designers approving images, colors and patterns. ST: Are there any other upcoming products or projects that you can share? MM: We just launched a new style of envelope liners to match our May Notes. We originally had several patterned liners that could coordinate with the patterns on the cards, but we’ve simplified things and created diagonal-lined liners in every color so there is a perfect match for every pattern. ST: What other stationery or gift designers or companies do you admire? MM: I adore Sugar Paper, Fig. 2 Design Studio and the ever-whimsical Mr. Boddington’s Studio. I love going to National Stationery Show where I can connect with the designers in person that I follow via social media throughout the year.
MICA AT A GLANCE Q. If you could travel through time and space and land anywhere you desire, where and when would it be? A. I actually love exactly where I am. I’m not one to look back very often; I much prefer to look forward at the things to come. I think we are in such a cool time where creativity is encouraged (and even expected), and where women can run a company alongside having babies. Q. Is there a piece that epitomizes your signature style? A. I am going on my fourth year of crushing on aqua, I simply Can’t. Get. Enough. Overall, I love modern, glossy white mixed with vintage looks. I’m probably a hybrid of Anthropologie and West Elm.
A. We just launched a collegiate collection, essentially a selection of basic colors that can be monogrammed to represent various Alma Maters. Q. What’s been your 2013 bestseller? A. It seems to have been another year of the chevron, so we created several new patterns with a chevron style. The Modern Chevron Navy & Peach in our geometric collection is our top seller and I think it will continue for fall.
A. I love and crave change. We challenge ourselves to keep our patterns fresh, so I try not to get married to one particular design. Our canvas paper just sings when bold and bright colors are used, so while our color scheme and patterns might be tweaked from season to season, they’ll always will be clean, crisp and bright.
A. My favorite changes all the time. We are lucky to get a peek at so many of our customer’s creations either through Instagram or
Q. What other designers, music and movies inspire you? A. I’m always drawn to “whimsical” designers, bloggers and musicians, people who don’t take themselves to seriously and are simply living life to the fullest. Some of my faves are: Jessica Hische (typographist extradoinaire!), Bri Emory (DesignLoveFest.com), Promise Tangeman (graphicdesignerwithfantasticallybighair,http://www.promisetangemanblog .com/) and Brooke & Summer from the Girls With Glasses Show, to name a few.
Left: Bestseller for 2013: The popularity of the Modern Chevron Navy & Peach pattern, shown at top right and on the clipboard, should endure through year’s end. Circle 192 Right: Direction of the Line: Sewn bindings ensure that books are indestructible and completely recyclable; Green-e Certified Canvas Covers are resilient, durable and water-resistant, plus they wear in like a favorite pair of jeans. Circle 193
Q. If you couldn’t do this, what would you do instead? A. I love to dream up, create and then complete projects. When I was little I always wanted to be a fashion designer. I have notebooks of dresses/ designing notebooks isn’t too far of a cry from what I always wanted to do.