This is our first seller spotlight. We take some extra time to get to know a seller, trade some pins and review based on our experience along with a short question and answer section to give some additional insight and advice from the seller. We don’t know how often these will come along but we intend to make them special, informative and hope you enjoy the read.
Meet Begin Industries
Say hello to Begin Industries. We’ve taken a break to get to know these makers and have been patiently waiting for the right time to share our experience. Alan and Ashley are based out of Washington D.C. and run Begin Industries as a husband and wife team. Their online store and website features many enamel pins along with a few other NFC tags and NFC gadgets.
It didn’t take long to know that they both love what they do. This comes through in their communication, packaging, the personal touch and care they put into their designs and finished products. We’ve recently been associating the care of packaging as a gauge of how much a seller cares for their products and Begin Industries is doing it right. Their pins ship with some of the best packaging out there. Every pin, no matter how small or large comes in an appropriately sized box, nestled in a foam insert and capped with a lid. No matter what pin you order, you can rest assured it’s going to arrive exactly how it was intended to be seen. Not to mention it’s an absolute joy to open each pin, not knowing what to expect and then being delighted by all the details. Speaking of pins, Begin Industries has over 18 currently in their collection with even more on the way. Their pins have a wide range of appeal and are inspired by the everyday objects that Alan and Ashley interact with or things that they find the most interesting.
Speaking of pins, we’ve got 4 from their store in hand. If you want all the additional details of these pins just click a link below or the image of the pin next to or at the bottom of this page.
Begin Industries Pin Review
This is one of Ashley’s favorite pins and now one of ours. This pin is a BEAST and appropriately so. It comes in at 2.25″ wide and 1.5″ tall with dual posts. If you’ve ever watched any cop drama, spy or sci-fi show/movie, you’ve seen one of these cork boards with yarn. You know once you’ve been made aware of something and now you see it everywhere? This is one of those things. After receiving this and then a few weeks later watching Stranger Things, guess what popped up? Yup, a nicely sized conspiracy theory board. This pin is packed with tiny details like newspaper clippings, sticky notes and a ufo. It’s fun, well balanced and I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to purchase. Huge Conspiracy Yard Board enamel pin is $15.00 from Begin Industries store.
We’re mildly obsessed with coffee pins and pour over coffee holds a special place in our hearts. If a pour over is your thing then there is no avoiding this enamel pin for your collection. Glass coffee maker measures 1″ tall and .6″ wide. It’s a simple 4 color soft enamel with a single post and dark plating. You’ll notice small little details in the knots but only if you look closely. We can only hope that one day they’ll offer an iced coffee variant of this! Glass Coffee Maker is $11.00 from Begin Industries store.
Admittedly, I haven’t collected as many beer pins as I should be. I’ve purchased a few here and there while touring breweries but when I saw the beer hops pin, I knew it was one to own. Beer Hops is a hard enamel pin that measures 1.25″ x .5″. It comes in either gold or silver plating and is single posted. Sometimes you’ve got to know when a pin design needs to be in its simplest state possible. This pin is a single color green enamel and they let the shiny plating do all the work in bringing it to life. As this pin has sat on my counter over the last few days I have walked by and noticed several times how great it is in this simplicity. If you know someone who appreciates a good brew, you can rest assured knowing they would be overjoyed to own this and I think it would make a perfect gift, or go in a personal collection, or to wear it daily. Beer hops is $11.00 from Begin Industries store.
If you’re a cook or enjoy tiny pins then this little knife has you covered. Chefs knife is modeled after Alan and Ashley’s own kitchen knife and we think it’s just perfect. It measures a tiny 1″ by .25″ and is single posted. There are some awesome details in the wood grain and with the right lighting, this pin shines. We especially love how the enamel coloring on the knifes edge shines to make it appear as though it’s sharp. Chefs knife is $11.00 from Begin Industries store.
Begin Industries Q&A
Tell us a little about you, your store and what makes you different.
We love to create pins about the things we love. That could be craft beer, fancy foods, conspiracy theories, basically stuff we enjoy. We don’t make “bootleg” pins like Rick and Morty or Simpsons or anything like that because of the gray area that exists with copyright but we have no issues with other people taking those risks and love to see the fan art pins that exist in the world. We are also teaming up with an artist and have 4 pins in production that are characters from his art that we are really excited about and will be released in just a few weeks.
What is your thought process on how a pin design is brought to life?
We generally brainstorm ideas at a local bar or restaurant over some good food and drinks. Then we decide on the design we want to do next and look for some reference photographs that make sense for a pin design or take some of our own. Once we have the references we import them to an iPad Pro, make them fairly transparent and draw right over them. A lot of times we will take multiple reference photos to make one pin. One detail here one there etc. Some stuff just doesn’t translate well as a pin. Once the design is drawn we go back and make sure all the lines are nice and straight or curved to exactly how we want them before we import to Illustrator.In Illustrator we try lots of colors and compare with Pantone swatches. Once we have what we like we send to the manufacturer and they make their own art that the pin will be made from and we need to approve this proof because sometimes small things have to be changed so that it works as a pin and not just a digital sketch. Then 3 weeks later they are in our hand and ready for everyone to enjoy.
What are your favorite types of pins and why? (hard enamel, soft enamel, colors, sizes, etc)
We generally like hard enamel the best because they just seem to work for the sorts of designs that we do. But we like both types for sure.
What is your favorite category of pins? (Nature, Movies, Art, Fantasy etc)
I guess our favorite type of pins are objects and fun characters, I think this is reflected in our line but also in our personal collection.
Are you also a collector? If so, what’s in your collection? Do you collect any other types of things? How long have you been collecting?
We have only been collecting for a year but every piece is so much fun for us. I have a maroon minivan pin from funtimes usa that looks just like a drawing I did on the back of my AP History Exam in high school that my (Alan) teacher saved and gave to Ashley the next year. We also had a Herman Miller shell chair pin from midmod that looks just like the Herman Miller shell chair we have in out living room. I say had cuz we recently lost it but we will be repurchasing that one, and hopefully whoever found it will enjoy it as much as we did. We live in 600 sq ft in DC so not much room for collecting things and that’s why pins are so good, they take up basically zero room.
What are your favorite things about being a seller and maker in the business? Or: What is the most enjoyment you get out of being in this industry?
The best part about this industry is that everyone is very friendly and helpful and we try to do the same. It’s a great community of artists, businesses and collectors. We are also very proud to give them out to our friends which isn’t something you’d do if you were selling something boring.
What is a day in your operation like? How do you stay busy and have fun?
Well, we work sporadically on everything. When an order comes in we ship it straight away. We work on designs as needed, because if we just did what we liked wed be making new designs all day long, but we keep a nice list of them ready to go. Taking photos for Instagram actually takes a lot of time but we try to plan out at least a month of those at a time. So basically, somedays it will be all day of pictures + shipping orders, and other days it will just be shipping orders and brainstorming ideas. It’s a fun business and the more you put in the more you get out of it.
How long have you been in the business of selling pins?
We started selling at the end of March this year.
What’s a mistake you’ve made in the enamel pin business that others could learn from?
I’d say not testing designs more. We had a very popular hops pin in gold that was doing very well and eventually decided to make it in silver to maybe get a few more sales from people not interested in gold. But turns out people like silver even more than gold for that pin. So you should definitely not assume what the market will do and just test some different colors or metals to see what people like. If they didn’t like silver we could have just not reordered and moved on to the next thing. We really shouldn’t have waited 4 months before testing that out.
Do you have a piece of advice for newer sellers and pin makers?
Main advice is just do it. Don’t wait, jump in. You just need a couple hundred bucks to get started and if that’s you barrier to getting started I am sure you could craigslist some stuff you aren’t using and be ready for your first order this weekend.
What things do you see changing in the industry? Do you see these as good or bad?
There is a lot more licensed pins out there now. This is good for the licensee but mostly they are boring compared to the fan art ones already available and opens up the good artists to lawsuits much more easily. I wish the fan art ones would get legitimized instead of generic boring ones that are getting made and sold at retail stores.
Any final thoughts or comments?
And if you want to get into making pins check out this article I wrote: How to make enamel pins. I am here to help, I love pins and can’t wait to see what new pin makers will make.