Is It Too Late To Start Making Enamel Pins?
Has the enamel pin craze died?
Is the enamel pin market too saturated?
Has everyone already made everything a pin?
Isn't it too hard to differentiate yourself from all of the people making pins?
These are questions that we hear all the time concerning the enamel pin market. I believe these are all very limiting and incorrect beliefs. I hope that after reading this article that your mind will be open to the unlimited possibilities that very much exist in entering the enamel pin market yourself.
First things first, I want to get clear about the fact that an enamel pin is a piece of jewelry. People have worn and created jewelry for thousands of years and will continue to for the foreseeable future. We love wearing embellishments to express ourselves and that's something that is just not going to change all of a sudden.
Sure, there was an upsurge in the popularity of enamel pins a couple of years ago with a steady decline, however this doesn't mean that there is no market for them anymore. A pin is a wearable sculpture that lives on the body and people will surely purchase if it is something uniquely outstanding whether or not pins are trending.
For a moment, please forget everything that you have ever known about enamel pins and lets start fresh. Think of an enamel pin as a medium. There are a series of steps in the manufacturing process starting from:
- Optional processes before and after enameling including silk screening, laser engraving, assembly of multiple parts and other printing methods and proprietary techniques.
When we look at it like this, enamel pins aren't so far off from the manufacturing process of other everyday items. This means that the possibilities of what you can create are endless. This is a great place to start thinking about how you can push the limits of the medium and how to break out of the boundaries of a craze.
A high level of the understanding of your medium and how to manipulate it in creative ways will always set you apart in the market. Still think the market is too saturated? How different is this process than creating a sculpture? Not by much. To say that everyone has already created every sculpture than can ever exist is incorrect and limiting.
All of this considered, if you think of creating enamel pins within the context of a several year "craze," you are doomed to create something that doesn't have long standing value. You are limiting yourself to the repetition of what has already been done. It will be consumed and forgotten about or will disappear amongst the crowd of identical competitors. It is important to find a long standing, cultural context to create enamel pin art around, rather than around buzzwordy subjects for the sake of making a quick buck.
The important question to ask here is:
Who are you making this pin for and why would they want it?
I recommend to never start from the idea of the pin, but to start with considering people's wants and needs in expressing themselves and identifying with others. This is the primary function of an enamel pin, a good one that is. If you are curious, I cover this thinking process extensively in my previous article How To Start Making Merch and Make a Best Selling Product.
For example, our brand is focused on creating gifts for people who committed their lives to making things for others. We celebrate inside jokes, experiences, the pleasures and pain of being a creative person in this day and age. While our designs are unique, the platform of the brand is this overarching idea. Only then, our specific style and personality manifests itself as pins and other products.
Lately I've been obsessed with the book You Are a Message
by Guillaume Wolf (not an affiliate link I promise) which gets this idea across in a clear and concise way:
"To build your brand you need three things
Perfect skills or products.
Perfect understanding of the culture you are dealing with.
Neglect one of these and it's over."
He really hit the nail on the head. There are a few moving parts you need to consider when thinking of starting to make enamel pins and it should be taken as seriously as starting any great brand in order to be successful. All of these pieces need to be working together in tandem.
I'm not going to tell you it's easy to create a great brand. Like with anything else it required talent, practice, a lot of research and commitment. I encourage for aspiring enamel pin creators to take their work just as seriously as if they were designing a home or a watch. Don't default yourself to sending some factory a vector file of an illustration and leaving it at that. Invest your time in understanding the medium, the cultural context you wish to address and crafting a beautiful story for your audience to enjoy. This is the recipe for success. As an exercise, take a look at your favorite enamel pin brands and see how they answer these three points. I guarantee they certainly do this well.
There is a lot of untapped potential in this seemingly saturated market. Don't be discouraged by the low hanging fruit that has already been picked and see how you can come in and make your big splash 💦
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