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The rise of #pingame

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Over the last few years enamel pins have made a serious resurgence. Totes, caps, jackets and anything else you can put a pin through, are being adorned with these tiny collectables.

It seems that for many, enamel pins have filled the void which appeared in our lives since leaving behind the days of swapping Pokemon in the playground. Once bitten by the enamel pin bug, it’s hard to stop adding to your collection and avoiding turning into the enamel pin equivalent of a Pearly King or Queen has become a daily struggle!

Enamel pin, enamel pins, South of Hell

For makers, the relatively low production costs involved have made them an attractive piece of merch, allowing both newbies and established players in the merch selling game to turn their designs into wearable, sellable art. These low costs have also allowed buyers to indulge in their pin obsession and express their style without breaking the bank.

“The low cost and their collectibility are huge factors in making them popular with makers I think,” explains Dan from enamel pin brand, South of Hell. “A lot of artists are using pop culture references and nostalgia to influence their work as well, which is proving very popular.

“People want to show off their tastes in a broader and more subtle way these days, and wearing 10 different designs on a jacket can do it better than wearing one emblazoned across a t-shirt.”

“They are great sellers, ” adds Beth Wilson, the feline loving maker behind Doodle Cats. “Lots of customers have found me because of my pins, and then found all the other stuff I do. They’re also a great size. The stock doesn’t take up a lot of room, they’re cheap to post if you sell online, and people are more likely to impulse purchase a small item.”

Unlike the playground trades of years gone by, the rise of pin game has had a helping hand from the realms of  social media, opening up a global “swap shop” kingdom.  The presence of these online pin enthusiast is arguably most prevalent on Instagram, with hundreds of hashtags giving easy access for anyone searching for a pin game fix.

I think Instagram plays a huge part in pins making a resurgence,” says Dan.  “It’s a very easy place to find new artists and companies making them. There are some amazing community pages who share some of the best ones out there for everyone to see.”

But with so much pin related noise floating around in our feeds, getting noticed and making sales isn’t just as easy as taking a photo and pressing publish. Husband and wife duo, Pinheedz specialise in creating drag queen enamel pins. They put getting ahead in the pin game down to having a clear concept, a little bit of humour and tapping into a niche market or fanbase.

“We soon noticed there was a huge gap and a high demand in the market for affordable drag related accessories,” says Darren.  “With my wife’s passion for drag and my design background, a little market research,  and digging our heels into the social media platforms, Pinheedz was born!”

Utilising their niche and tailoring hashtags to their audience has allowed Pinheedz to connect to an online community and  loyal fanbase from across the globe.

“Instagram is an amazing platform for businesses (especially small businesses) to reach out right to the heart of their target audience. Instagram makes finding the things you love super simple and accessible! We have particularly loved our followers tagging us in pictures of them wearing our products!”

Inspiration behind the pins that flood our feeds come from all sorts of places however, Rich from Pin There/Done That has seen social awareness play a huge part in the pins that pop up.

“People will always want to associate themselves with a “Tribe” and wear their views for all to see. That’s why you will see loads of pins reflecting important causes; mental wellbeing, feminism, dietary habits, anti establishment messages etc.”

 However, with information now readily available in the public sphere thanks to the internet, pin designs are also acting as reactions to viral and ‘fad’ content.

“A new episode of Rick and Morty? Expect pins. Donald Trump has said something dumb? There’s a pin of it. Your new favourite meme? Yep, you can wear it on your lapel now.”

We’ve seen this eclectic nature of enamel pin design first hand since launching them as a product earlier this year. We’ve had everything from glittery drag queens, to tattoo inspired skulls, flying sausage dogs, to retro company logos come through our doors.


Fancy getting in on the pin game action yourself? We asked our contributors what tips they’d give fellow makers looking into creating enamel pins. Here’s what they had to say

Enamel pin badge, enamel pins, pins

Top tips from enamel pin makers

 

Do your research


Beth – Doodle Cats: When you’re thinking about making a pin, think about what it is that you want when you buy a pin. Do your research, look at what works and what doesn’t. Keep things simple, don’t over complicate it.

 

Know your audience

Darren – Pinheedz: A clear concept, A niche market or fanbase, A little humour, And a great manufacturer like Awesome Merchandise 😉

 

Be bold

Dan – South of Hell: The key I think is to make something eye catching and not get lost in fine details, pins are small and have to be bold to stand out among the crowd. Have fun with backing cards and dive head first into the pin community to share your work.

 

Just do it!

Rich – Pin There/Done That: My advice for potential pin sellers is to just go for it! Inaction is your biggest enemy and the worst case scenario is you have a couple hundred cool pin badges to give away to your friends. Oh and always check price breaks on orders of low yield items! If you get a better price ordering 500 than 200 then go for it, when you are working with only a few pounds margin 30pence less per pin badge might make a lot of difference!

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