Enamel pins are all the rage right now. Inexpensive to buy and super collectable, it seems like everyone is upping their #pingame with a lapel pin (or 20) that expresses something about themselves.
Offering a unique enamel pin to your customers is a great way to build brand awareness and give people something to buy at a low price point. To create your own pins you’ll need to learn to learn a bit about how pins are made and figure out the best place to source them. To help you along we’ve gathered all of this information in one place. Happy pin making!
Things to Consider When Designing and Ordering Enamel Pins
Hard or Soft Enamel: Enamel pins can be made of either hard enamel or soft enamel. Hard enamel is smooth, polished finish with metal and enamel at the same level. Soft enamel is more affordable and more common. It includes raised metal borders and soft recessed filled areas.
Glitter: Some pin companies offer glittery enamel. Be sure to check your samples to be sure that the glitter doesn’t compromise the legibility of your pin.
Rubber vs. Metal Clutches: The standard clutch is metal, but some people prefer rubber clutches because they’re gentler on clothing. Some pin companies carry rubber clutches in a variety of colors.
Metal Plating: There are several options for the metal used in enamel pins including gold, nickel, copper, bronze, and black metal and weathered versions of each.
Custom backing: Some companies offer a custom backing for your pin. You can include your logo or even have the pins individually numbered if you’re releasing a collector’s edition.
Design Files and Fonts: Make sure each element in your design is large enough to infill with enamel. To check for legibility, print the design out at actual size and hold it at arm’s length. Be sure to ask for a both a digital proof as well as a physical sample. If you’re not sure which metal will look best ask for multiple samples. The design file needs to be a vector file. If you do choose to build it yourself in Illustrator, make sure all of your type is changed to outlines and save your file as an .eps or .pdf so that the vectors are preserved. Or you can send it as a JPEG and the pin company can convert it to the file type they need.
Pantone Colors: You’ll need to provide the manufacturer with Pantone color numbers for each color in your pin (the numbers should be for Pantone “coated”). Use this handy converter to get them.
Cards and Bags: Some companies will print backer cards and bag your pins individually for you. If you’d rather do these yourself, a business card size backer cards works well (2” x 3.5” or 1050 x 600 pixels). See our list of printer sources here. Purchase bags from a site like Clear Bags or Uline.
Packaging and Shipping: It’s possible for the shank (or what some companies refer to as the “nail”) to get bent in transit. Consider using a padded mailer, bubble wrap, or tissue to prevent damage. And don’t forget to add the cost of any special shipping materials you buy into the overall cost per pin.
Profit Margin: Typical minimum orders are 200, but if you’d like fewer pins ask if they’ll lower the minimum. Be sure to add up all of the costs involved in manufacturing your pin. There is typically an upfront fee for creating the mold (between $50-100). Include the costs of each component (pins, bags, cards) including the costs of shipping them to you. Then divide by the number of pins to determine your cost per pin (typically under $2). Most pins retail for somewhere between $7-12. If your pin is popular retail shops may inquire about carrying them wholesale. Be prepared with a wholesale price per pin and the amount you require for a minimum order.
Getting Your Pin Made
Keep in mind that almost all pins are manufactured in Kunshan, China. The American and UK companies serve as middlemen. It’s possible to order factory direct if you’re able to place larger minimum orders.
PinSource based in Vermont
Made by Cooper based in the UK
Pinmart based in Illinois
Lapelpins.com based in Florida
Pindepot based in Florida
Factories in Kunshun, China
Centuries (contact Yuki)
Updated November 7, 2018: Interested in working directly with an overseas factory to have your pins made? We recommend reading this post by Pinlord with expert tips.
Consider also having patches made with your design
Marketing Your Pin
Publicity: There are lots of ways to market your pin. If you’re using Instagram as part of your marketing strategy try these targeted hashtags:
#enamelpins #pingamestrong #pingameproper #pinsforsale #pinmakerssupergroup #pmsg #pin #cutepin #pincommunity #pinflair #pins # #pinaddict #ihavethisthingwithpins #enamelpin #softenamelpin #softenamel #pingroup #pinpals #pinmakers #pinpost #pinstagram #pinhead #pinclub #lapelpinstyle #lapelpins #pin #illustration #pinlife #pinoftheday #pinpost
Submit your pin to be featured in one of these Instagram feature accounts specifically for enamel pins:
Pinterest: While you’re waiting for your order to come in consider creating a Pinterest board for enamel pins. Once you’ve created your own enamel pin your board will have gained followers and will be a perfect place to pin an image of your pin and drive traffic to your shop.
Sending Out Freebies: A good way to build momentum for a new pin design is to make a list of influencers who might enjoy wearing your pin. Mail them a free pin with a handwritten note. If they choose to share a picture of themselves wearing your pin and tag you, you may get a rush of new follows and orders (just be sure to change your Instagram profile link to a direct link to your pin).
Community: Pin makers come together in a Facebook group to show off their recent designs, ask questions, and troubleshoot. Join the Pin Maker Super Group.The group is working together to create Pin Portal, a site that will feature enamel pins by different designers. Help fund the project on Kickstarter.
Have other advice or resources to share? Tell us about them in the comments!