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How I Make Enamel Pins / Design Process & Manufacturing Merch

I love making pins, you can put them anywhere and really show off your style. When I see my design on a pin it just feels super official and kind of even emotional to see your little drawings or ideas on someone's jacket or their bags. They make for such cute little gifts! I’m going to go over how I design my pins; I know not everyone does it this exact way, and this isn't much of a tutorial but more of an insight into my process and thoughts while I work on a new design.

If you aren't much of a reader, here is a video on this topic:

Sketch the Design

I usually go to my tablet and sketch out the idea I have for the pin, I end up having a few ideas and narrowing it down to my favorite one. For this design, I actually took the advice from an online friend I have. She suggested I make a pin welcoming friends to the Kingdom Hall and I ended up with 2 designs I really liked!

Refine Design on Illustrator

After I know which designs to use for the pins, I take them to Illustrator to refine and make any changes necessary. One of the designs is mostly a sketch with some text on top, so I used Illustrator only for the text and an outline of the whole shape. This makes it easier for the manufacturer later on. The other design was much simpler and completed entirely on illustrator. Let me know which design is your favorite!

Don't be afraid to ask your audience for feedback!

Ask for Feedback

After I have the first draft completed, I like to go to my Instagram page and ask my friends and followers what they think of the designs. This part is especially important because I want to make sure I catch any issues with the design. For example, I was advised to switch up some of the colors to be easier to read, and I was reminded to capitalize the "i". I appreciate this feedback very much because I mostly work alone and I can get very caught up in the designs - which can make it hard for me to catch my mistakes.

Check for Sizing

After the edits are complete, I like to print out the design - true to scale. This way i can check the sizing for a pin and what feels right. I want to make sure the manufacturer won’t have an issue with production and that the text will be readable from a considerable distance, but I also prefer smaller “dainty” pins and don’t want them to look bulky or too distracting.

Finding a Good Manufacturer

I have done a ton of research on what companies to work with and where to get my items made. I usually end up trying a few different ones until I feel comfortable. In this case, I am trying out a new company because they are in the US which means faster shipping (and I was on a time crunch), and because they had a sale going on! They have pretty good reviews and the ordering system has been great so far - so I’m hoping the pins are of great quality.

One thing to remember is to ask your manufacturer any questions you may have. The manufacturer I was using before had great communication (the only problem is that she is in another country and the timing of emails was always really off). This company has so far been really responsive with edits. I even asked a few questions on the edit pages and they made the changes right away.

Design Backing Cards

One thing I love about pins are the creative backing cards you get with them. I try to make sure mine make sense with the design and that every pin gets its own design. This is another part of the experience and I always keep the backing cards that come with my pins - even if just to use in my journals.

Pins have arrived!

The day is here and the pins have finally arrived! This is the most exciting and nervous time because of all the hard work and time spent!

I check each and every pin to make sure they are in good condition and to count every single one. I put any pins that aren’t up to my standards in a separate pile (these will be on sale once my stock has gone down). I also use this information to reach out to the manufacturer. Sometimes they actually send you more pins than what you ordered, in which case I end up with extra- and the “faulty” ones aren’t an issue. This time, I had very few problem pins and I think I’m the only one that can see any problem with them at all!

Take Photographs & List

The fun part! I style and arrange the pins so that they can photograph well and list them on my selling platforms. Right now I am still on Etsy, but I also have my own shop and I sell directly from Instagram. Listing and sharing on social media is so much fun because I feel like I'm releasing my child into the world!

Ahh brand new pins! This is so far the best process I have found works for me. I would love to hear your ideas and see what pin designs you have created! It really is a pretty simple thing to do that can add a lot of options to your shop, it's a cute way to expand your listing and bring your illustrations and designs to life!


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