Lapel Pins are taking over my life!
Lapel pins are addicting. That’s just a fact. Addicting for buyers and collectors alike. But also for pin designers like myself. 1 year and 4 months ago I started my own lapel pin company, Nitelyfe Pins after I noticed a lot of pins in the street art community, lots of artists were popping up with pins and they looked sooo cool! So naturally I wanted in, but I didn’t realize how deep I was about to go.
The Addiction Begins
When pins first starting coming back to mainstream pop culture around 2014 back I noticed but it didn’t really register with me as something to pursue. I was busy trying my hardest to survive as a professional artist in New York City. I was trying to sell prints, my artwork, and all merch centered around that while painting murals and paintings. And I still am doing that, but pins have made me widen my focus.
I remember having a couple of pins in my childhood at various times, they were always cool and easily collectible. It sort of triggered a nostalgic retro cool-ness I couldn’t overlook. I went from wanting to make one pin to wanting to make a set. I already had tons or artwork to pick from, i just had to do it.
Utilize your knowledge
Outside of having extensive art & illustration knowledge, I have a 12 year background in graphic, fashion, web and ux design. At various times while working that 9–5 life I’ve had to pivot into something new as a job crumbled away or a new opportunity presented itself or when I was simply curious enough to pursue it. Having these various design related perspectives and knowing how to apply them helps greatly while creating pins. From fashion I learned to spot trends and how to communicate my inspiration into a product with my knowledge of graphic arts. Web and UX knowledge help me to navigate the ever changing digital world we all use and cant live without. While I no longer work for anyone, these skills Ive picked up and thrown into the pot with my drawing ability makes for a solid creative foundation to build upon.
Get ‘Er Done
Ok so I got my artwork and decided to make my first 4 pins, I found a solid manufacturer and took a leap of faith. I dont like spending money on a products when Im unsure what the end result’s quality will look like but I had to do it in this case. 2 weeks later I had my first set of pins!
Boom! Pins in hand! I quickly shared pics of my new pins to my social media audiences and shipped out many to fans and followers of my work as well as people in the pin community. It was awesome! Then a few weeks later, the hunger for more grew.
Everyday Im hustlin’
Once I had my pins, my curiosity led me to digging around in the pin community on Instagram. A lively, passionate community of other artists and designers who also celebrated pins, it was exciting. Searching and finding some great pin makers gave me some of my own ideas to execute. Being a New Yorker has always instilled a hustler’s mentality in me. Wanna do something? Find out some info on it and go get it. Wanna sell art on the streets of nyc like I did? You gotta hustle it. Wanna get into that awesome office job? You gotta hustle for it. Hustle is the result of motivation, inspiration and action. If you can dream it, you can do it as the saying goes.
I’d much rather work for myself than for someone else so I began looking at pin companies all over the world and figuring out how I could do this. I went from 0–100 real quick, I mean 4 pins was great, but 40 sounds even better. I began months of design work, ideas are constantly flowing and before I knew it i had atleast 20 more designs to choose from. I placed another order for 6 more pins in quantities of 50 -100 per design. Now I was rolling! Once they arrived I started thinking I needed to start a company or atleast another account where these pins could live but first I needed to sell these things!
Outside of some Instagram posts, I started going to more artist markets and looking for avenues to sell my new merch as the year went on I found myself slowly shipping out more and more and becoming more interested in pins as a creative outlet for myself and creative expression for others, it was a win-win.
New York Comic Con
Last year in addition to pins, I was also drawing my own published comic book series, The Adventures of Miru and had teamed up on a booth for New York Comic Con with my friend, Rolo. I had a healthy mix of pins, comics, tshirts, and posters to offer.
The 4 day experience was awesome and surprising. The number one thing me and my writer, Rick wanted to do was sell our comic series, we had 3 issues published and even had a special edition for the convention. The number one thing people were interested in for the entire time were my pins, the comic was collecting dust. I decided then that I’d work more in pins, it was working and it was fun.
1 year later
Its July 9th 2017 and I’m knee deep in the Pinlife. Still hustling artist markets, block parties, making online sales, taking custom orders and making it happen, no excuses. There are so many talented people making pins the competition is fierce but friendly. The pin community is large but tight knit and full of passionate people who love pins, and I’m happily drinking the kool-aid and becoming one of them.