The pin has long been a way to express an aspect of your personality. It’s hard to think of another item that has been equally embraced by punks and politicians. The diminutive size of the pin allows you to make a statement in a more subtle way than, say, a T-shirt does. (I frequently wear a Supreme “Deeez Nuuuts” pin and don’t think I’d feel as comfortable sporting a hat with the same message.)
Each generation discovers the pins that speak to them, and few brands capture the current cultural mood like Pintrill. Barely a year old, the brand already has established a loyal following for its clever take on everything from emojis to hip hop. We spoke with Pintrill’s president, Jordan Roschwalb, who started the company with co-founders Doni Gitlin and Andrew Yung, about his creative process, collaborations, and why people connect with pins.
How did you start Pintrill?
We started Pintrill in the spring of 2014 when I was out of work and looking for a new way to get my creativity out. Myself and one of the co-founders came up with the name and it just clicked. Once that name came out, we knew that was going to be it.
Why do you think pins seem to be having a moment right now?
I don’t think pins are having a moment right now. Pins have been around for over 100 years whether soldiers were wearing them or hippies, whether it be to accessorize your outfit or to signify ranking or to wear as flair on your suspenders. Pins have been and always will be a part of culture. We’re just making them great for everyone so that they cross boundaries like age, gender and race. Pintrill is a movement.
What is it about pins that people seem to connect with?
Pins create a connection with a place and time for most people. They are a reminder of something, a trinket that holds a piece of you. And every time you touch it it takes you back to that moment.
Who else is making pins that you respect?
I really respect all pins. After all, I’m the pin guy. I think some brands that are really killing it right now are StampdLA—who was one of my main inspirations to get into pins—Explorer’s Press, HungryEyesNY, as well as Prize Pins. These guys are awesome, super clean and very inspiring.
When did you realize your pins were resonating with people?
As soon as we sold the first pin we knew we were onto something. After that first sale, I knew if we did it once we could do it again and potentially a million times over.
How do you come up with ideas for new pins and what have been some of the most popular?
The ideas come from many different places. We look to pop culture, the media, music, and fashion for inspiration. Our most popular pins are the emoji-based pins as well as some collaborations, like Careaux, Grado and Theophilus London to name a few.
Where did the idea for the Drake tears pin come from?
Drake Tears came from a brand that approached us called OctobersAllAlone. We have no idea who they are but they are geniuses so we had to run with it.
How did your end up collaborating with hip hop artist Theophilus London?
He reached out to us on Instagram, and after a creative session out in LA, we went forward with the pins. The whole thing was a very cool experience, especially because we were and are such a young company.
Are there any other collabs coming up that you can tell us about? What do you like about collaborations? What do you hate?
We’re currently working with a very well-known hat manufacturer to develop a new collection that plays off our vintage “One of None” collection. But that’s under wraps for the moment. We also have a Puma collab dropping this month, and a special capsule we did for Nordstrom.
I love working with other creatives and getting exposed to so many new things, but a collab can be one of the most difficult things for so many reasons. Sometimes you’re not even in the same country as the person and that can create difficulties in communication, but ultimately when you see the finished product it’s extremely gratifying.
Who are some of the celebs that you’ve seen rocking your pins?
Nick Wooster, Theophilus London, but also people like Mike Cherman [of ICNY] and the guys at Reed Space. It’s not really about the celeb factor. It’s more about the guys who have pioneered the industry accepting us. That’s huge.
Do you think about expanding beyond pins?
Maybe we will one day, but for now we’re a pin company and we’re perfectly fine with owning that.