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 in  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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Gotta Catch ‘Em All!… Collector Pins That Is

After months of doom and gloom about Rio’s Olympic capabilities,  things seem to be running far better than anticipated. As a (very) amateur runner myself I love watching the sprints and marathon coverage, as well as the diving, swimming, gymnastics and beach volleyball. Though honestly, any time in the next two weeks if the games are on, I’m probably going to plunk myself down in front of them for a while, regardless of what’s on.

Another neat thing-to me-about the games is their tie to collector pin trading, something I know a little bit about. Since the modern Olympic games, collector pins have been a part of the games. The first modern games in 1896 featured three  pins: one for judges, one for officials, and one for the athletes. If you haven’t guessed, the amount of pins for each successive set of games has increased exponentially since then. Nowadays, if you believe theCollector Pins “Pin-heads” as they’re called, collector pins are more influential than money in places, and are in fact used as tips at restaurants and in taxis.

Pin collectors at the games will spend a lot of their free time trading, wheedling, and bartering their way into a particularly unique or coveted piece. They’ll put down money for the commercially sold pieces, but the truly memorable and desirable pins will be the ones that are traded for, and for some pieces, once they’re obtained, they will never be up for trading but will instead be displayed alongside other highly unique and priceless pieces.

Someone interviewed in an article about the pins said that the craze at the Olympics could only be related to another worldwide obsession: Pokemon Go. He pointed out that just like the game, collectors will spend a lot of free time wandering around the grounds and then battling other collectors to get what they want without parting with too many of their own favorite pieces. And the kicker is that perhaps the rarest and most sought after pin of this year’s Olympic Games features, you guessed it, a Pikachu, smiling beside the Olympic Rings. Catch’ em all!

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These Lapel Pins Could Land You In Jail!

Don’t get me wrong, I know the power of lapel pins. I know that they can inspire, incite action, comfort, or amuse. But in North Korea, lapel pins are more than a way to personalize an outfit or reflect a cause: they’re mandatory. That’s correct. Every adult citizen of North Korea is required to wear a pin bearing the image of Kim Jung Il or his father, Kim Il Sung.

And so, when a bag containing about 200 pins bearing the image of the late dictator, Jung Il, were found near the DMZ inside the border of South Korea, it was not assumed that they were set down by accident and left. It appears that this deposit of North Korean propaganda is just another in a long string of antagonizing tactics used to push one side or the other and instigate war.

Police have the pins in custody (I love how that sounds!) and they’re investigating how they lapel pinsgot into the country. If they do find an individual in South Korea responsible for the pins, that person could face up to seven years in jail. For pins! But for years, both sides have devised ways of sending propaganda to each other. Though in the case of South Korea, their propaganda sometimes came in the form of basic necessities like food and even socks. North Korea’s impoverished citizenry is the focus of concern for humanitarian organizations in South Korea. Their efforts to send supplies to North Korea are often  responded to with threats for military or nuclear action, and so the South Korean government does its best to prevent such humanitarian aid from being sent in the first place.

Recently though, South Korea has been blasting K-Pop (think the Asian version of the Backstreet Boys) and anti-North Korea broadcasts across the border, with North Korea sending back similar broadcasts and floating balloons with dictatorial propaganda pamphlets back over into South Korea. I openly admit it sounds insane.

The reality of the situation in North Korea is obviously very serious, and their threats are not to be taken lightly. But I cannot help but be both amused and impressed that lapel pins are enough to start country-wide investigations and that retaliation might be blaring the Korean Justin Timberlake back over the border to the North.

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Service Star Flag pins and their meaning

As the political season kicks into high gear, we at PinMart start getting news alerts about what the candidates and their entourages are wearing on their suit jackets. Usually it’s timeless American Flag lapel pins, but yesterday there was a barrage of news stories on a pin that Democratic VP candidate Tim Kaine was wearing. Some years ago, Kaine had done humanitarian work in Honduras, so when he gave his DNC speech on Wednesday, his flag lapel pin, which was clearly not the American Flag, it was at first IDed the Honduran flag. This riled up critics who expressed anger that Kaine was not paying tribute to his own country. But upon closer scrutiny, and confirmed by Kaine, the flag he was wearing was discovered to be a blue Service Star flag pin. That is because two days ago his son Nat, a marine, deployed overseas.

This uproar made me realize that perhaps the American public isn’t as familiar with these flag pins as I thought they were. And that an informational blog was needed. So here you go!

The Service Star flag, or Blue Star Banner as it’s sometimes called, was designed by a WWI Service Star Flag PinArmy Captain. He had two sons in active duty and thought it would be a fitting tribute to their service. By WWII the practice became widespread to display a Service Star flag banner in the window of your home if you had children deployed, with one star for every child in harm’s way. It even led to an organization called Blue Star Mothers of America, who would create care packages to send to soldiers overseas. And in the intervening decades, the stars have come to represent more than just sons: the US government notes that they can recognize all members of an immediate family, from mothers and fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.

The proper way to hang this flag, when not in the form of a lapel pin, should be indoors, with the logo facing out the window. And if tragedy does strike, a gold star is added to the blue star, to indicate a fallen family member.

Symbols like this, whether in the form of lapel pins or the traditional flag, provide great comfort to those who have family members in the military, protecting American and its allies across the world. It serves as a way to recognize others also suffering the same worries, and provides a network of community support.

So I hope this was helpful. And I hope that next time you see Kaine, or anyone in your community wearing this lapel pin, that you’ll recognize it and its importance to the families of service that men and women fighting all over the world.

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