What are your core values?

I wanted to share a really cool recognition program that PinMart initiated recently. It’s called the Core Values Program and it centers around our company’s code of ethics. Our mission statement, broken down into categories that help us work with each other, with our customers, and take pride in ourselves. And to help promote these values, as well as reward those who demonstrate them, we’ve set up our Core Values Program. Once a quarter the whole company shows up bright and early, enjoys a catered breakfast, and then dives into the highlights of the last quarter, and the goals for the next. It’s a good way to see where we’ve gone and where we’re going.

And then when that’s adjourned we’re all of us given the opportunity to get up and recognize a few people we’ve seen throughout the last few months who’ve demonstrated one or more of the core values. Whether it was going above and beyond with a customer, Recognition Programhelping a coworker with a project, or showing pride in PinMart itself in some way. And after sharing what they’ve witnessed, we give this coworker a small coin with “core values” engraved on it, and our logo on the back. It’s no bigger than a quarter, but a bit heavier, shiny, and it certainly feels like a small award in and of itself. But it’s part of something bigger.

The program is set up so that after receiving ten of these core values tokens we can “cash them in” as it were, for a $100.00 bonus. It’s a lot of money for doing some very simple things. And as both the giver and receiver of these tokens I can say that it’s just as good a feeling to share someone else’s positive story and give them a coin as it is to receive one myself.

It’s a recognition program I’d love to see popping up in other businesses. It would work in big or small organizations, and these tokens, being made of jewelers metal, are able to be used over and over again as individuals cash them in. It’s a alternative to recognition pins, with a different feel to it. And the camaraderie the action of giving one or receiving one builds is worth more than any cash bonus. It reminds us to appreciate each other for what we do and to celebrate that; something we probably often want to do but forget to do during the hustle and bustle of daily affairs.

Does your organization already have a program like this in place? Something similar or totally different with equally great results? I’d love to hear about it!

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The Rule to Wearing Lapel Pins? There Aren’t Any.

As the year ends and everyone gears up for their New Year’s Eve parties, I keep seeing these articles online with “expert” opinions on how to dress up the right way if you’re going to a fancy NYE party. Some of them make sense (don’t wear a dress longer than you are in your heels) and some of them seem completely arbitrary (lapel pins should be worn parallel to the edge of the lapel… ??) but one thing all of these different guides seem to have in common is their assurance that they have the definitive answers.

And while I’m sure some serious etiquette-oholics will insist on following a rigid set of rules this year, I’m here to tell you that as someone who is literally up to her ears in lapel pins: lapel pinsthe rules no longer apply! That’s right: you do not need to wear a monochrome flower identical to the color of your lapel (seriously, I’ve seen this: black on black, blue on blue… what’s the point?). Nor do you need to measure the distance of your pin to the center of the lapel. Or wear just one. Or wear it on the left hand side. Whew. Got that off my chest!

In the 21st century, suit jackets come in every color from sea foam to magenta, lapels are super skinny and uber chunky. And lapel pins themselves are becoming more creative and unique by the day, so adhering to outdated, restrictive rules should no longer be the case either. Want to wear a huge carnation on your left lapel? Do it! Or do you have a collection of three or four pins that you can’t choose between? I say position them all on your lapel. It’s about you and who you are, not what GQ magazine says you should be.

2017 is right around the corner, and it’s a chance to start fresh. Try new things, be authentic, be passionate, stand out, and always let your voice be heard. Lapel pins are small (or not so small) ways to make a statement that goes beyond just your patriotism or your place of employment. They’re social, specific, and thankfully, they’re interchangeable. So don’t hold back this New Year’s Eve, and let it be the start of a fearless, fierce you. Happy New Year!!!

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One less thing on my bucket list

Everything from my waist down was in agony. And for the past three hours the sun had been shining down on me unforgivingly. So much for the rain that was forecast. As I reached the finish line I could see hundreds of recent finishers swarmed on either side, medalstheir medals winking in the sunshine. And, disregarding the pain in my feet as much as I could, I pushed myself into a sprint to cross the last marker measuring my first marathon. Because I really wanted to get one of those medals. And when I bowed down to let the race official place the medal around my neck I beamed, admiring the weight and the shine of the piece. “Wow, I wonder if PinMart could make something like this,” was almost my first thought. Go figure.

Last weekend I ran my first marathon, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. It was easily one of medalsthe most challenging, craziest things I’ve ever done. But also one of the most rewarding. And it seemed like everyone was running with some sort of talisman or charm. I saw people with medals from previous marathons. Runners with cancer awareness pins attached to their hydration belts. I even saw two members of the military running in full fatigues, complete with their military pins jangling across their chests. Personally, I made sure to attach the winged shoe pin given to me by my PinMart coworkers to my sneaker. I’d look down at it now and then and see it glint up at me and know that I had people cheering me on all the way back in snowy Chicago.

And after everything was said and done, all of us who ran, regardless of why or for whom, left with the same beautiful medal around our necks. The next day I saw many people sporting these pieces, and t-shirts and pins and hats, and I was too, and we would nod and smile, shout congratulations at each other and it was almost as cool as the event itself. We’d all been running for our unique purposes the day before, but in the aftermath we all had the marathon in common. And a really cool memento to remind us of our accomplishment.

If any of you have done something like run a marathon, or participated in an event that you worked hard for, and got something like a medal, pin, or other award, I’d love to hear about it!

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The Safety Pin Movement Has Come to America

I’ve taken some time to digest things. Yes, this is of course a nod to Thanksgiving dinner, which was delicious and did require some serious napping afterwards to aid digestion. But I’m also referring to the recent election the USA is still reacting from. Regardless of your political leanings, a majority of Americans (77% according to a gallup poll out last week) agree that our nation is more divided than it has been in decades. And that perception affects all of us, regardless of who we are, where we live, or what we believe in. It’s never been more important to come together now as a nation to somehow bridge this divide. And one way Americans are trying to combat discrimination is through the safety pin movement.

So what’s this about? It started in the wake the UK’s exit from the EU, aka Brexit. safety pinIndividuals began wearing safety pins as a non-verbal way of communicating that they stand against hate and discrimination. In the post-referendum world of Brexit it was used as a way to cheer and bolster a nervous public. And after the surprising results of the US election, Americans too adopted the safety pin for much the same reason.

The movement is of course being met with mixed emotions, but that depends on what you think when you see someone wearing safety pins on their clothing. Some people feel it’s a feeble gesture that isn’t backed up with action. And others are heartened to see both republicans and democrats wearing these pins, as it creates a sense of silent solidarity, and a promise of action should these people see discrimination or hate going on around them.

Whether this movement is just a fad like many before it, or the beginning of a larger social movement towards acceptance and social responsibility, time will tell. But 77% of Americans can’t be entirely wrong, and for that, I hope that the safety pin movement has a positive affect in our post-election world.

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I Voted! Did You?

It’s hard enough getting up in the mornings now that the weather is cooling and the sun inches further and further away. But this morning I made sure I was up well before the sun, and out the door before the moon had set. Why you ask? Because I was on a mission to obtain an “I voted” sticker. And one hour later I can report that I was successful, and that it feels astoundingly GOOD, and EMPOWERING to have that flimsy little decal on my lapel.

And now that I’m here at work (and early too, thanks to the afore-mentioned early rising) I think I’m going to take my obligatory “I voted” selfie and then save that sticker somewhere. Which means I’ll switch over to something sturdier and more permanent lapel pinlike an “I voted” lapel pin. Because democracy, and exercising it, requires a badge of honor. In an age of internet memes, Instagram filters and snapchat selfies, sometimes drier subjects like politics can get lost in the shuffle. But maybe by wearing an “I voted” lapel pin I can perhaps remind or inspire even one person to vote who wasn’t sure if they would otherwise.

I have my opinions of course, or I wouldn’t have been inspired to vote in the first place. And of course I won’t share them here. Because today of all days, the most important thing I can express is the sheer importance of voting. Because the truth is that in every election, whether it’s presidential or local, casting your vote is vitally important. It shapes the world we all live in. And to contribute to shaping it is a privilege that not everyone has. It should not be squandered, no matter what color, gender, religion or other distinction you ascribe to. YOU matter, and your opinion does, too.

Even if the line is long after work, take the time. It’s kind of exciting actually, being in a crowd of people all there for the same purpose. Seeing your community turn out to do their civic duty is really amazing actually. I can attest to that. And what I can also attest to is the change in people as they stand in line waiting to vote versus how they look upon exiting the polls. Every person immediately adheres their “I voted” sticker on with the same look of pride and satisfaction, regardless of who they are. It’s a feeling you have to vote to feel. It’s worth it. GO VOTE.

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Thankful for Military Familes

Happy November! Welcome to the season of goodwill, of thanks-giving and appreciation for all we have and all we’ve accomplished throughout the year. And with this upswell of gratitude it bears remembering that it isn’t just our own individual families that we’re thankful for. Because November hosts not only Thanksgiving but also Veteran’s Day, and the entire month is devoted to honoring military families. Many of you are yourselves military families, and the sacrifices you make all year every year are both noble and inspiring.

ThankgivingThanksgiving and Veterans Day are actually very closely connected, if you think about it. Thanksgiving stems from our ancestors’ first harvest back in 1621, and their gratitude for being given a second chance to live a life free of persecution inĀ  a new land. And Veteran’s Day is an opportunity to thank the men and women of this country who give their time, their courage, and sometimes their lives, to protect this life our ancestors sought. You cannot be grateful for one without the other.

It’s easy to incorporate thanking veterans into your traditions during the Thanksgiving season. Consider donating to a charity that helps get service members in touch with theirMilitary Pins families on Thanksgiving. Or maybe send a card or letter to a service member overseas during the holidays, to thank them personally for their sacrifice. Perhaps wear and hand out military pins at the office or your community to let vets and military families know you’re thankful for them.

However you celebrate this November, just remember to let the military families in your community know just how grateful you are for the sacrifices they make each and every day. Because they do their part to keep our country safe, we at home have the freedom to celebrate Turkey Day however we want… with too much football, naps in the easy chair, or even tofurkey! Happy November everyone.

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Cuff Links, Lapel Pins, and Patches for the Halloween Win!

It’s crunch time for Halloween costume ideas. Some people spend months (and a bunch of money) crafting brilliant and terrifying costumes. I’m openly envious of these people. Because while I spend months considering Halloween costume options, somehow I’m always that girl the night before the party pulling out tinfoil and cardboard tubes, trying to pull off something way too ambitious. Last year for example. I started off with grand ideas and in the end just greeted trick or treaters with my pet cats in my arms: it was my second year in a row as a “crazy cat lady”. Not really a stretch from every other day of the year, I admit.

So this year, with T-11 days til Halloween, I’m going to recognize that cuff linksmy imagination is way more impressive than my execution, and go for something clever but that doesn’t require an entire roll of duct tape. Accessories like lapel pins, cuff links, and patches can do wonders to transform you from yourself into anyone you want to be: scary or glamorous.

For example, a simple suit and tie, combined with something like political cuff links and an American flag lapel pin and you can be topical and go as a politician. Or add a lanyard and a clipboard and you’re a political hanger-on.

Perhaps you have a green apron that never gets worn for cooking? Slap a java lapel pin to it, throw on some khaki pants, and you’re ready to hit the party as a Barista. Maybe add some lapel pinswhite grease paint and fake blood and voila, you’re an Undead Barista! (Undead anything is a classic Halloween hit.)

Use military patches and a thrift store bomber jacket, add aviator glasses and you’re retro Tom Cruise a la Top Gun. (I have yet to see an UnDead Tom Cruise a la Top Gun… but hey, there’s a first for everything.)patches

Basically, a few simple accessories and some items you probably already have around the house and you can be just about anything you want (or Undead anything you want). No need to clear out your local craft store, and your wallet.

But whatever you choose to do this Halloween, be safe and have fun! And if you have any cool costume ideas, please share them here in the comments: we’d love to help you inspire other great costume ideas!

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Make Old New Again with Trendy Pins

The reality of “fall” is starting to sink in with me. The weather has cooled off significantly, you can’t take five steps without being offered something that tastes like pumpkin spice, and we’re four weeks into the football season already. I won’t say I’m the biggest fan of cooler weather or earlier sunsets, but one thing I can get behind is “sweater weather”. You know, that’s the narrow temperature range where you can be comfy in just a sweater or a light jacket. And it’s nice pulling out clothes you haven’t worn in six months, but at the same time it’s fun to update your fall wardrobe. I think you know where I’m going with this: trendy pins.

It’s really cool to see how in fun little lapel pins have become in 2016. Whether it’s high fashion, runway ready, or ready to wear collections, lapel pins are literally everywhere. And if you’re looking to update your style without buying a whole new wardrobe, then cute, sassy, colorful pins are the best way to stand out without blowing out your budget.

Another thing to consider is that pins aren’t permanent. Fashion evolves, seasons change, pinsand pins allow you to redefine yourself by switching up what you pin to your staple jean jacket or cap. In October you may want to represent breast cancer awareness, or go creepy with something dark and dangerous for Halloween. Then come November and December you may want to get festive with something for Christmas or Hanukah. With pins you never need to lock in your style: pin and unpin to your heart’s content.

Personally, I’ve been festooning my ancient (but beloved!) jean jacket with pins, patches and other colorful charms for literally decades. Band logos, political statements, awareness causes and all sorts of random goofy stuff I come across. And every year when I pull out this jacket it’s like a trip down memory lane to see what was put on last year, or last decade. What’s survived my many moods and what hasn’t. And because I can swap pins out, it means I never have to worry about running out of room to express myself.

So don’t despair colder weather: get pinning and show off what makes you uniquely you with staple warm-weather gear and personalized pins to make every season, and every day. They’re perfectly stylish and more importantly, perfectly YOU.


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Political Pins Are So Vogue

Voting is a lot of things. It’s vital to our society. It’s empowering. It’s sometimes frustrating. It’s your civic duty! It’s extremely important. But one thing I didn’t consider voting: sexy. At least until today. Because when Kendall Jenner, Michael Kors, Joan Smalls and a slew of other models and designers don PinMart’s political pins and dance their way through a voting PSA, suddenly voting looks GOOD. So good in fact that CondeNast sponsored the video and it’s now making the rounds on every social media platform known to man via the CFDA and Instagram. They’re calling it Runway to Registration and it’s certainly getting a lot of attention.

And attention is what is needed in this 2016 election season. Voters under the age of 35 make up about 31% of the American voting bloc, and yet according to 2012 election statistics, they only made up 19% of those who voted. That disconnect between those who political pinsCAN vote and those who DO are who this very trendy PSA is targeting. It’s drawing on the influence that fashion has on the younger generation, reminding millennials that in between photo shoots and celebrity parties, even the likes of Kendall Jenner plan to make it to the polls.

The use of PinMart’s political pins by many of the commercial’s participants speaks to the current trend that pins in general are experiencing. Department stores and fashion brands are launching lines of their own pins, and independent creatives are making a tidy living with their unique, outrageous lapel pin designs on platforms like Etsy. And so, in one star-studded short, Fashion, Politics, and Pins collide. It makes for very compelling viewing, I must say!

For a short time I still fall into that category of the 35 and under voting bloc. I remember clearly my first chance to vote back in the 2000 elections, and every subsequent election since that time. Voting to me feels revolutionary, powerful, even subversive. Because speaking your mind is always revolutionary, no matter what side of the political divide you fall on. And now voting is also trendy. So everyone, young and old, millennial to silent generation, get out there and vote! And be sure to get your “I voted” sticker or pin afterwards because voting couture is so Vogue.

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What’s Your Fall List?

Seriously. If you blinked, you missed summer. I looked at my calendar this morning and nearly did a spit take with my coffee… Labor Day is this coming Monday. The unofficial end to summer. And the return to school for many kids and adults. I’m sure I’m not the only one bummed out a little bit by this prospect, and I’m not even in school anymore! And what I do when I find myself not particularly looking forward to something, is try to find the good aspects of the situation, or ways to make it more enjoyable. Regular Polyanna I am.

So here’s my list of things to get excited about with fall and back to school:

  • Sweater weather: Time to pull out the sweaters you stuffed away into the back of your closet for the summer. And if you’re anything like me, that means it may also be time to get a few new fall and winter items to add to your wardrobe! There’s nothing like feeling confident in a new outfit to make you want to go out and face new experiences and challenges.


  • Fall flavors: Another upside to fall is the new flavors of, well, everything. Whether you frequent a coffee shop every morning on your way to work or school, or you’re at your local grocery store, you’re going to start seeing cinnamon, pumpkin academic lapel pinsand “harvest” flavors everywhere. Which is another good reason to buy some new sweaters: to hide those extra “harvest flavor” pounds.


  • A Fresh Start: Every school year is a fresh start and a chance to reinvent yourself. And whether you’re a student, teacher, or parent, part of that reinvention can come in the form of motivation. A cool new trend I’m told is for teachers to reward students for hitting certain goals with fitting academic lapel pins. Whether it’s acing a test, getting homework in on time, or killing it on a book report, these pins can be added to backpacks, lanyards, cord boards or just worn around school. And for parents, if your teachers aren’t participating in a pin program, consider starting your own academic lapel pins program at home!

Now my list certainly isn’t universal. You may love the fall colors, the cooler weather, or any number of other things. However you need to think to get yourself into the fall mood, now is the time!

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