One of the questions I get asked most often is how can I get my own custom enamel pins made? When I first decided I wanted to design pins for Girl Party I had the same question and felt overwhelmed scouring the internet for the best way to go about it. It’s actually quite simple and takes just a few weeks to get your pins. Keep reading to find out how you can get your very own enamel pins made in just five easy steps.
Step 1: Design
The first thing you’ll need is a design idea. What do you want on your pin? Is it a simple word or phrase? Maybe it’s your dog? An object? Whatever it is, the design needs to be compatible for an enamel pin.
Remember this thing is going to be just an inch or so tall, so keep your pin design simple. Complex or busy designs will not translate well once they’re in pin form. Stick to solid blocks of color (no shading) and bold line work. If you are familiar with Pantone colors, use them! Most manufacturers do Pantone matching. Try to keep the overall outline of your design a fairly simple shape.
Manufacturers prefer a PDF of your design to get started. You can hand draw your design, scan it and save it as a PDF, or if you are graphically savvy feel free to use any software to create your design and send them the digital file.
Not comfortable drawing up your own design? Girl Party offers freelance design services! Click here or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
Step 2: Material
Pins can be made with a variety of materials, however soft enamel and hard enamel are the two most common. So what’s the difference?
Soft Enamel Pins
The main difference in appearance is that the line work of your pin will be slightly raised, giving your pin a texture. Soft enamel pins typically can produce a broader range of colors, especially bright colors, and offer a little more room for detail. They are also usually more affordable than hard enamel pins. Soft enamel pins are not quite as durable as hard enamel pins. Over time they will show wear and scratches faster, so keep this in mind if durability is an important factor to you.
Hard Enamel Pins
Hard enamel pins have a sleek and shiny finish. Unlike soft enamel, these pins will have a completely smooth surface. It can be harder to achieve super vibrant colors. Hard enamel pins are generally more durable than soft enamel and will hold up better over time.
Other Materials to Consider
Most pin manufacturers also offer special add-ons like glow in the dark and glitter.
Step 3: Sizing and Backing
How do you decide what size to make your pin? Sizes range anywhere from .75″ all the way up to 2″ however keep in mind most people are not likely to wear a large enamel pin. The average pin size is anything under 1.25″. Also, the smaller the pin the more affordable the price.
Backing can be just as important as the front of your pin. By default a pin manufacturer will only place one pin-back on your pin. If your pin only has one pin-back it will probably spin upside down, sideways, etc after it’s been pinned onto something. I recommend asking for two pin-backs especially on pin designs that you don’t want to spin. It will also be much less likely to fall off and get lost!
Step 4: Quantity and Pricing
What does it cost to get your own pins made? It really depends on the manufacturer, material, and quantity. In my experience, to get 100 pins made typically costs around $120-200.
Manufacturers typically charge a die fee of around $40 per design. This is a one time fee to make your initial die. If you ever decide to get more of that design made, you wouldn’t need to pay the die fee and would only pay for the actual pins. Cost per pin can be anywhere from $0.50 to $1.50 depending on the material and quantity. Remember the more you order the better price break you receive.
The quantity of your pins really depends on what you plan on doing with them. Are you going to sell them? Are they for you and your best pals? Some manufacturers will require a minimum first time order of 100 pins. If you plan on selling your pins, I always recommend starting with a lower quantity. It’s nice to test the waters and see what sells before investing in a mountain of pins that end up sitting in inventory.
Step 5: Choosing a Manufacturer
Most pin manufacturers are based in Asia or the Middle East. The majority of them are located in China. There are pin manufacturers in the US, however it will cost you nearly twice as much to get your pins made in the US. Most of them outsource to China and then raise the price to make their profit. You will definitely get the best price if you work directly with a Chinese manufacturer, but keep in mind there may be some language barriers and limited customer service. That being said, Girl Party has used this manufacturer and I have had nothing but great experiences and high quality pins made.
A quick Google or Alibaba search will tell you there are TONS of pin manufacturers to choose from. It can be quite overwhelming because it’s hard to tell which ones are reputable and have the best quality. Take your time and do your research! I recommend narrowing it down to 2-4 and then emailing them the following:
- low res JPEG of your design (this way they can’t “borrow” your design)
- specs for your pin (material, size, quantity)
- ask how quickly the pins can be shipped once the final artwork is approved
- ask for a cost estimate
Whichever manufacturer comes back with the best answers in a timely manner is the company you should work with. Once you’ve decided on your manufacturer, send them your final PDF. They will send you a proof along with a cost estimate. Once you approve the final artwork and pay the invoice, your pins will be manufactured and shipped. Typically your pins will arrive in just 2-4 weeks.
And just like that, BOOM. You’ve made your own custom enamel pins!
I hope this post was helpful to those of you interested in getting your own pins made. If you have any questions or input, please let me know in the comments below. Happy pin making!