We’ve come a long way, baby.

Wow. Labor Day. It takes me by surprise every single year. And it probably always will. But living in Chicago now, it was brought to my attention that Labor Day was actually born during the Pullman Strike, which is a neighborhood right here. Unions versus Railroads in the late 19th century. As you can imagine, it was a very tense situation, and the unions were eventually restrained by the government interceding. And at the end of it all, to try and repair the relationship between the government and unions, Labor Day was born.

Nowadays Labor Day is more about store sales, last BBQ’s, and family get-togethers. We at PinMart start to pull out our fall clothes, spend more time helping schools create mascot lapel pins than we do baseball teams create trading pins, and gearing up for things like football season and autumn leaves. It’s definitely not the tumultuous time that invented our modern Labor Day.

It’s good to remember where these things come from though. And good to celebrate how far we’ve come! Parades and memorials on Labor day, recognition pins at business meetings, and genuine thanks given to our service men and women. The hardships of others in generations past have left us with a wonderful place to call home. And we’re still building on the dreams and the ideals of the past. Hopefully someday, future generations will be able to look back on the struggles we’ve gone through in our time and raise a glass, or make some pins, in our honor.

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From the inside, out.

Well, I hate to admit it, but I think I’ve actually… grown up. At least a little bit. Speaking to a friend today, he was discussing an upcoming day of seminars where he works, everything from leadership training to critical thinking in high stress situations. We both surprised ourselves by admitting that it sounded like a great way to spend a day at work, not only because it would be a change of pace, but also because of the actual content involved in the seminars. He closed with, “And we get swag bags for completing all the discussions, including recognition pins! I thought you’d be impressed.” Well Alex, indeed I am!

I don’t care of you’re a pharmaceutical scientist or a copy writer, knowledge and swag are both valuable things to receive. And yeah, as someone who works for a pin company, to  hear that a totally unrelated industry is going to use recognition pins as a way to motivate and congratulate their staff was pretty gratifying. And the truth is, we all want that pat on the back, and the “atta boy”, whether that’s from our dad during little league, or in the form of a pin as an adult for completing an arduous training session.

The combination of continued education, of strengthening the team from the inside, along with simple motivators like recognition pins, is really smart. People spend a lot of time working to get hired, but afterwards, it can sometimes feel a bit like a vacuum. When a business, big or small, puts continued stock into their employees, their employees will put it right back into the business. It’s a win win. And in an economy that’s still getting back on its feet, recognition pins are both inexpensive and still sincere, and that goes a long way.

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Guest Blog: Great for conference swag bags!

Conferences are a great way to network, meet new people, and get your company name out there. Many annual conferences have companies that steadfastly attend every year, armed with a table full of free stuff to foist off on every attendee they see. What some do not realize is just how important swag is. The right swag is an item that can be used and displayed often, getting your name and logo out there. The wrong swag is something that just gets dumped in the garbage.

So, what exactly is the “right” swag? Here is a list of some examples that are more effective than others, and you can use these tips at your next conference.

Hand Sanitizer

Small bottles of hand sanitizer are perfect for conferences where people are going to spend all day shaking hands with strangers. Having a pile of them, with your logo prominently displayed on them, is great for people to engage and pick one up. Attendees can also spread the word, sending more people to your table. Even people who aren’t particularly germophobic will appreciate it.

Mobile Chargers

With cell phone touch screens getting bigger, and with more people primarily using their mobile phones to conduct business, batteries don’t last as long as they should. Reports say that many now use their cell phones more than their laptops, and for those on the go, it is crucial to have a charged phone. By offering mobile phone chargers with your logo on them, you can cater to these people, who will think of you every time they use the charger!

Sunglasses, or Seasonal Gear

Offering season-appropriate swag is always a hit. For the summer, having a pair of fun sunglasses available, or a pair of flip flops, is an ideal way to get your name out there. Sunglasses and flip flops can be worn time and time again, making the wearer think of your company. A fun, wearable object in a bright color can get a lot of attention. Conversely, try a scarf in the winter, or those fancy gloves with fingertips that let you use your smart phone. Seasonal gear is a great option.

Lanyards

For people who are on the go, neck lanyards can be a useful item. People who carry large purses or bags can dangle the lanyard out of the mouth so they can easily find and pull out their keys. They are one size-fits all, and come in set designs and custom designs. Lanyards can hold a conference ID badge, hotel keys, car keys, and more.

Reusable Water Bottles

Carrying around a Styrofoam coffee cup all day is not ideal. Offering water bottles with your logo on them can allow attendees to carry around their drink of choice without worrying about spilling a drop. These are also environmentally friendly, and appeal to most people. Attendees love to get stuff they can keep and reuse.

Some people come home from conferences laden with swag. Make sure yours is among that pile, and is something that will be appreciated, noticed, and used!

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As the kids are saying “Right in the feels”

Normally I like to keep these blogs fairly universal, or at least to generalize items, you know, lapel pins, lanyards, challenge coins, general. But yesterday I got word that one of our custom pin customers is using one of our pins in a very unique, and wonderful way. An awareness ribbon created in honor of one of the children killed in the Sandy Hook shooting is going to be included in the cornerstone of a new playground being built in his honor. This small, green awareness ribbon with his name on it is going to be placed in the wet cement and will be a small tribute inside of a much bigger memorial. I was really floored, actually.

I’m not blase about what I do for a living. Everyone comes to us with a vision, a purpose, and these pins help them achieve their goals. So I know that no pin is a throw away. But something that touched people so personally, in the form of the death of a child, well, that one hit me “right in the feels” as all the kids are saying these days. I was personally invested in this pin for this little boy, and I’ve gotten to follow the progress these awareness pins have taken, through fundraisers, memorials, 5Ks, TV interviews, and watched them spread across the country as supporters of the families of Sandy Hook played their part.

And now 26 playgrounds are going up along the path that Hurricane Sandy took last year, a way to heal the land ravaged by nature, and to heal the hearts ravaged by grief. And to have lapel pins play even a small roll in this is pretty much affirmation for why I get up and go to work every day.

So keep an eye out for these wonderful playgrounds, and for the awareness ribbons that will be helping to honor both Hurricane Sandy and Sandy Hook Elementary students and teachers. And, as I have learned firsthand, think twice before discounting things like lapel pins as just pieces of jewelry, or cheap branding. They are really so much more.

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Lanyards are the new dress for success

I didn’t think anything of it the first time it happened. The second time happened long enough after the first that I didn’t put two and two together. But the third time I was stopped in a store by a fellow shopper who confused me for a member of store management, I took stock into why on earth so many people would be thinking this!

I considered how I looked: business casual, slacks and a dress shirt, heels and hair (kinda) done. Well, that described most people hitting up the grocery store after work. What on earth was setting me apart then? It dawned on me finally when I realized that the one thing I’d been wearing all three times I’d been confused for an employee was a neck lanyard. In my case it was because I keep my key chain on one and sometimes just throw it around my neck so it doesn’t get lost in my purse. So I started to pay attention at stores when I would do my grocery shopping and indeed, members of management all walked around in business casual, with store logo neck lanyards hanging around their necks.

It was an interesting thought: neck lanyards make me seem like a professional, and not only that, but management. That in certain settings a simple accessory, and one that is more functional than fashionable, could distinguish me as a respected member of a company? It was an interesting revelation to come to, and it shed neck lanyards into a new light. What once was something I saw more on college campuses or the sports field, has become iconic of corporate America, or at least part of climbing the corporate ladder.

With this new understanding of, and a new respect for, neck lanyards, I find myself more eager than ever to recommend them to PinMart customers. Perhaps I’ll share my story, and spread the concept that these pieces hold more than your keys: they hold you up as more than just any working stiff. The other thing I learned from all of this? To just stuff my lanyard and keys into my purse next time I walk into the grocery store, unless I’m in the mood to be mistaken for management.

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The eye of the beholder

What makes something valuable? What makes it priceless? That’s kind of a toughie. It’s a combination of emotional connection and the rarity of the object, I think. Think of your most prized possessions: the picture of you and your best friends from high school, the personally autographed concert ticket from your favorite band, your child’s first baby shoes, now long outgrown. There’s only one set of first shoes, personal autographs, or moments in time captured in a picture. So not only beauty, but value, is in the eye of the beholder.

That holds true for everyone. Older generations will covet their class lapel pins or rings from their old high school days. They may have some general value to someone else if the piece has gold or stones in it, but to the person it belongs to, the value is immeasurable. Interestingly enough, sometimes these pieces that belong to one individual become sought after by others who place the same value on the object as the original owner. Consider the former belongings of celebrities. A handwritten lyric sheet written by John Lennon. Jewelry of Marilyn Monroe’s. The association, and the rarity of the piece, makes them extremely valuable.

I see that all the time at conventions or concerts and other events where fans of certain genres gather. A set of lapel pins from 1964 with the faces of the Beatles on them can go for thousands of dollars now because they’re rare, not because they’re actually worth that much money. The emotional attachment and the rarity of the piece makes them far more expensive than the sum of their materials. Auctions of celebrity memorabilia brings in millions of dollars, mostly for fairly mundane things.

It just goes to show that it’s not what the object itself is: a jacket, a piece of furniture, jewelry or lapel pins; it’s the associations we put on them that creates their worth. So I guess we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover: that hideous candelabra you wouldn’t dare buy at a yard sale may have once belonged to Liberace.

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Three Ways to Use Custom Pins for your Company

A well-designed pin can have many uses, from announcing a new service or product, to recognizing members of a company or organization, to spreading the word about your group. From full-color to embossed to understated, customized pins can bring a sense of unity to what you’re doing.

There are some easy ways to use pins to your advantage. These tips can help you get the most out of a great pin.

Unify and Recognize Members

If you are a part of a team, you may want to do something to foster a feeling of familiarity and strengthen the bond between you all. Creating a custom pin is a great way to give your group an original way to come together. Instead of a T-shirt, which may look unprofessional or sloppy in certain situations, make your team a pin to wear.

Fraternities and sororities can benefit from dazzling colors or rhinestones. Nonprofit organization can make classy and simple pins. Even big companies can have bold pins to symbolize their business. They can become a collector’s item, and people can wear them all at once or frame them. No matter what, pins are a wonderful way to bring people together.

Events

You may have to attend an event of some kind at some point. You want to make your team look good, and also give out “swag,” so people remember your company or organization. Pins are the easiest way to do that.

Design an exciting pin for your employees and coworkers to wear, to recognize them and to make it easy for event-goers to identify them. It is a stylish way to distinguish your members without going over the top.

Event-goers also love to get “swag,” and they collect all the free stuff they can. Among other things, you can have a pin specially made to give out at events. Your swag pin should have the name of your company or organization, but also be fun and bright so people can wear it. Get your name out there!

 

Promote Products

You can use pins to advertise! An eye-catching pin on a uniform can get customers asking questions, and even have them stopping workers or members outside the workplace. For example, a retail store can announce their newest product, or a restaurant can make pins of their signature and most popular offerings.

People may even want to purchase the advertising pins, which is free publicity for you!

Designing <a href=”http://www.pinmart.com/pins.aspx“>custom pins</a> can work for your company or organization in so many ways. These are just a few examples. From 3D pins, to embossed pins, to rhinestone pins, something bright and attention-grabbing is great for unity, advertising, and recognizing.

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Everything really is bigger in Texas!

I just got back from a brief vacation down to the deep south. Texas to be exact. And let me tell you, never before have I seen such state pride! Everything from their overpasses to their building facades, their manhole covers to their fence posts have that familiar lone star on them, and locals have t-shirts, hats, and even tattoos with the state emblazoned on them, with or without that same star inside.

Believe me, I know that folks in Chicago will tell you they’re fit to burst with pride for their town, but the whole state of Illinois doesn’t seem to carry the same level of pride that our one city does. But throughout the state of Texas you’ll see that same brand, that same star, everywhere, without question. It’s great to see such a unified front by a diverse group of people, and it leads me to wonder what it is about the state that makes everyone so equally proud?

I’m not sure anyone could tell you point blank just what “it” is, but that feeling, that pride, summed up in a symbol like the lone star, is what we at PinMart try to do when we create custom lapel pins for companies and  clubs. We always try to put that same indefinable pride into our work, and towards your goal, as Texans have found in their lone star.

So if you’re looking to rebrand your business, or want to give your non-profit a little extra push, custom lapel pins might be just the thing. The right logo, symbol, and color combination will mean you won’t have to settle for anything short of Texas-sized pride. And from those pins, hopefully, that same logo will find its way everywhere throughout your business, organization and your general philosophy, just like Texas’ beloved stars.

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Semper Paratus

Well, we’re mere hours away from August! Another summer come and (almost) gone. But every month has its high points, one a big one for August is when we celebrate the Coast Guard! It’s perhaps not as well known as say, the Army or the Marines, but it has been a long-standing organization, and served as our only naval force for 8 years when our country was still getting its bearings after the Revolutionary War. Then it did, and continues to to this day, serve as aid to the Navy and other service branches in times of war.

They’ve always been a forward-thinking organization, allowing women to join as early as World War II, and their breadth of ability allows them to work with many different organizations to make sure our coasts and our country stay safe. And don’t get me started on the amount of beautiful medals and coast guard pins that are associated with service.

Despite having a small amount of active and reserve forces (under 100,000 all told), they live up to their motto of “Always Ready”. And so, this month, and especially on the 4th of August, be sure to thank the Coast Guard members in your community.

Whether that’s with a hearty handshake, a donation to a Veteran’s organization, or by wearing and passing out coast guard pins, just make sure that this small but powerful branch of our military knows that we value it just as much as every other branch. Semper Paratus!

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Lady Lindy

July is kind of a slow month when it comes to… well, everything. People are lazy in the summer heat, there aren’t a lot of awareness causes or holidays that need to be celebrated or talked about, it’s a bit of a lull. But today is Amelia Earhart day! Not exactly Christmas or even Saint Paddy’s day, but this woman was an amazing person who did incredible things in a time when women were still largely domestic goddesses, if you catch my drift.

Back in her day, and in the day of her counterpart, Charles Lindbergh, these two were idols of the level that movie stars and pop stars are to us today. They were on the news for their amazing flights across countries and oceans, and daily updates were given on radio programs to eager listeners. Once they returned, successful, everyone clambered to get a piece of them, and that came out in the form of everything from commemorative stamps, full color lapel pins with their smiles faces, and even dolls in their likenesses! They were sort of the like the Kardashians of their time, except… well, talented.

Obviously, both Lindy and Earhart had very tragic lives, with Lindbergh’s 20 month old son being abducted and tragically killed, and Earhart disappearing herself over the Pacific Ocean in 1939. But these tragedies only increased people’s interest in them as people, and their memorabilia was perpetuated, passed down, and collected over the subsequent decades. Now, Earhart lapel pins created during her lifetime go for hundreds of dollars at estate sales. I’d be curious to know how much a Kardashian pin would go for 50 years from now. (OK, enough picking on the Kardashians, promise.)

In the 21st century, aviation is still a passion for many, and there are clubs of female pilots all across the country who name themselves after Earhart and her groundbreaking, glass-ceiling-busting accomplishments. And we have a day just for her! And according to ebay, some very pricey lapel pins with her face on them for sale. Not bad for just a girl from Atchison, Kansas.

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