• UO Guide: Pin It On


    To celebrate some of our recent pin launches, we visited the studios of 4 up-and-comers to find out what inspires them, where they do their best work, and how they like to accessorize their lives.
    Photos by Esther Lee



    LASER KITTEN, founded by Marisa Ravel, Owner/Creative Director
    Los Angeles, CA

    Hi! Can you tell us a little bit about your brand and how it began?
    In 2007, while working as an art director at various advertising agencies in San Francisco, I started making sparkly laser cut jewelry on the side. I named my bling-business Laser Kitten. I made custom necklaces for years then took a long break. Fast forward to 2015, I decided to bring Laser Kitten back as my clothing and accessories brand. Now based in LA, Laser Kitten makes 80’s + 90’s inspired clothing and accessories.

    When did you first start thinking about pin production?
    Last year, after attending fashion school in London, I commissioned some of my favorite artists to illustrate my ideas (such as 90’s technology, pop-culture icons, neon print patterns and so on..) When I returned home to San Francisco, I designed a mini-clothing line with the art and had it manufactured locally (a process that takes 3-6 months). While I was waiting for the clothing to be finished, I decided to move to LA and have some pins made to sell right away. The pins, along with how I was styling them (tons of pins on one jacket) took off and got a lot of attention, so I shifted focus to pins and put the clothing on hold.





    What were some of the first pins you ever made?
    90’s Cell Phone, 90’s Computer, 80’s Lips Phone, Pink Cop Car, Pastel Geometric Pin Set, Friends Forever Pin Set, Hold Me I Can’t, and I Wish Clarissa Would Explain It All.

    Do you have any current favorites?
    The ‘Punky Power!” pin gives me life.

    What’s the best part about running your own brand?
    Sometimes it feels trippy, like I’m dreaming, especially when you see people like Christina Aguilera rocking your brand on national TV. It’s like, wait, is this real life?

    The hardest?
    Being in front of a camera. I get major anxiety when the spotlight is on me.





    What’s your favorite part about pin culture?
    The amazing people I have met, because my team is squad goals for real.

    Do you like to collect pins yourself? If so, are there any favorites in your collection?
    Yes! I have traded pins with majority of the pin brands. It’s sort of an underground thing we all do. Currently, I love the black and gold, “TELL IT TO ANOTHER SUCKER” pin by Baron Van Fancy x Pintrill. I also love any and all Larry David pins, I have a few!




    What do you have coming up? Can you tell us anything about any new designs you’re making?
    We are in the process of making a vintage inspired capsule collection with our good friends across the hall, Coveted Society. You can expect items like faux-leather moto-jackets decked out in our pins and patches, babydoll dresses, jewelry and more…We will also be participating in several pop-up events around LA, and of course, always launching new flair!

    Describe your design aesthetic in one sentence.
    #moreismore




    Current favorites:
     
    Late night snack: Froyo (late night delivery, it's so naughty)
    Song: "Losing You" by Solange
    Show to binge watch: Broad City
    Guilty pleasure: I just bought my dog his first sweatshirt, so there’s that…
    Website to refresh: LaserKitten.com (duh!)



    To see more from Marisa, follow her on Instagram
    Shop Laser Kitten



    SARA M. LYONS, illustrator
    Anaheim, CA

    Hi! Can you tell us a little bit about your brand and how it began?
    I decided to start turning my illustrations into products back in 2013. I was already doing freelance illustration and still spent my free time drawing, so it seemed like a natural progression. I started out making tiny stickers and nail decals by hand, and everything kinda picked up from there!

    When did you first start thinking about pin production?
    I used to hand-press buttons, so I'd already been in the "flair world" in a way for a while, but I think I started researching having enamel pins made in late 2014.




    What were some of the first pins you ever made?
    My full size happy and sad ghosts, black witch hat, and broken skateboard 2-pin set were my original 4 designs. Next I turned my "Whatever Forever" illustration into a pin, because it seemed like a no-brainer!

    Do you have any current favorites?
    My Smoking Lamb and Geodesic Spheres from my new collection are probably my favorite designs yet.

    What’s the best part about running your own brand?
    Being able to choose how I work and who I work with is pretty major. I also love that my brand has introduced me to so many really awesome and inspiring women who are also running things themselves.

    The hardest?
    Separating my business from the rest of my life. I don't have any employees and my office is in my home, so it's easy to get sucked into a black hole of work if I don't force myself to break it up.




    What’s your favorite part about pin culture?
    Pins are affordable, portable, collectible art pieces, so people get to walk around with tiny galleries featuring all their favorite artists on their jackets or bags or whatever - I think that's cool. I love how people can express themselves and their interests through the pins they choose to wear and how their pins relate to each other. I like when someone's working a theme or telling a story with their daily pin selections - it's something you can really curate and put thought into.

    Do you like to collect pins yourself? If so, are there any favorites in your collection?
    Totally, I probably have almost 100! I honestly love them all and rotate them all in and out, but some of the pieces that get the most love are Tuesday Bassen's black heart lolli, Big Bud Press's cute bong, and Rosehound Apparel's lil' strawberry milk. No Fun's flying money emoji and Goblinko's trash can were two of my first pins and are still major favs. I also love my Benjie Escobar "Crippling Social Anxiety" pin and Sugarbones' Sailor Moon-inspired collection, and I just got some amazing potted plant pins from Life Wife Press.




    What do you have coming up? Can you tell us anything about any new designs you’re making?
    I'm getting married in like five seconds (OK, like a week), so I've been focused on pulling off a killer wedding for the past couple of months. I'm excited to jump back into work mode full force in summer! I have big plans for jewelry and printed dresses, as well as new pin and patch designs.

    Describe your design aesthetic in one sentence.
    Taking bong tokes and watching bad TV in a frilly pink canopy bed.

    Current favorites
    Late night snack: ice cream bars
    Song: "Gardenia" off Iggy Pop's new record
    Show to binge watch: Vanderpump Rules
    Guilty pleasure: Vanderpump Rules ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    Website to refresh: I'm mainly really obsessed with Snapchat right now!

    To see more from Sara, follow her on Instagram!
    Shop Sara M. Lyons




    TUESDAY BASSEN, illustrator and designer
    Los Angeles, CA

    Hi! Can you tell us a little bit about your brand and how it began?
    My brand, Tuesday Bassen, is my actual name. It's an extension of my work as an illustrator! I started hand making products professionally in 2012 and have since honed my offerings into a line of clothing and accessories based on drawings of women wearing the same clothing.

    When did you first start thinking about pin production?
    2014.

    What were some of the first pins you ever made?
    The first two were the "Winking Girl" and "Heart Lolli" pins, followed shortly by "Keep Out" and "Erase You."




    Do you have any current favorites?
    Of my own? The new "Juicy Pear" pin!

    What’s the best part about running your own brand?
    Making the things I used to wish existed in the world and bringing my drawings to life through accessories and clothing.

    The hardest?
    All of the good outweighs the bad, but learning to separate your emotional connection from something you've made is difficult.





    What’s your favorite part about pin culture?
    A pin is a tradable, impermanent, genderless, piece of artwork that is easily attainable by anyone.

    Do you like to collect pins yourself? If so, are there any favorites in your collection?
    I do! My favs are the Ghosts Set from Sara M Lyons, Peach Schnapps by Rosehound Apparel, Bread Set from Big Bud Press, and Zodiac Bullshit by World Famous Original.





    What do you have coming up? Can you tell us anything about any new designs you’re making?
    Aside from opening up a shop in Los Angeles, I have a full fall line of sweaters, skirts, socks, jackets, and pins coming out in a wide range of women's sizes!

    Describe your design aesthetic in one sentence.
    Slumber party meets Easy Rider.

    Current favorites:
    Late night snack: Burritos from the taco truck!
    Song: Panchito Blues II by Peach Kelli Pop
    Show to binge watch: Better Call Saul
    Guilty pleasure: "Primadonna" by Marina and the Diamonds
    Website to refresh: Instagram

    To see more from Tuesday, follow her on Instagram
    Shop Tuesday Bassen




    VERAMEAT, founded by Vera Balyura, designer
    NYC, New York

    Hi! Can you tell us a little bit about your brand and how it began?
    Well, since I was a kid I was always drawing funny little creatures, daydreaming about new animal species or just having real dreams with exciting stories. So it wasn’t a surprise when I decided I had to do something real with those dreams, something touchable! It’s so much fun to see lovely objects in your head just waiting to become something real, something wearable. I saw a dinosaur eating chicken, I saw half animals-half people... my imagination never turns off. I needed those creatures in my life! I wanted to wear them around with me all the time! So I started making jewelry. First for myself, then for my friends, then for my friends' friends, so it made sense to me to open an online store. It was so nice to see how many people loved everything I made! I grew with my fans, opening two stores: one in the East Village and another in Williamsburg. It just gives me so much energy and power to grow more, feeling the love from so many people that love my brand as much as I love them for their support.

    When did you first start thinking about pin production?
    I’ve collected pins since childhood. Old army pins seemed like a miniature world's relics somehow brought over to our dimension. Then, 2 years ago, my art director Anja Slibar and I were walking around in Greenpoint, Brooklyn shooting the breeze and realized we really, really wanted some emoji pins on the old denim and leather jackets we were wearing. Emojis always made me feel revived and fresh! Then we got addicted and now almost everything I see and love I think how it would be best related in a pin! I’m so happy it's developed into a loved part of the VeraMeat brand!




    What were some of the first pins you ever made?
    Maybe because I’d just started making VMoji jewelry I thought to make VMoji pins, so the first pins were: The Poo, Kicking Girls, Gremlin and the Knife! They have become a part of my regular language between my friends! We often speak in Emojis over text. Speaking through images has always felt more natural to me and I think many artists feel that way.

    Do you have any current favorites?
    This question is super hard to answer! I love them all but if it’s a life or death thing I’d pick The Ghost pin as I love listening to ghost podcasts like Jim Harold’s Campire, The Hand Gun pin as my Dad used to take me shooting as a kid, The Love Bite as it’s just sexy, and the Pizza Luv as there is NEVER enough pizza. I used to eat pizza for breakfast lunch and dinner when I moved to NY at 14 years old and was poor.



    What’s the best part about running your own brand?
    It’s that everything is possible! I have so many ideas in my head and I can bring them all to life if I decide to! It’s like being Dr. Frankenstein and creating my own world in a form of a ring, a pin or a tee. Really VeraMeat just makes me feel so thankful for every single customer I have as I didn’t have investors; I just grew from their support, from each purchase over the last 8 years. I love when they Instagram photos of my creations in their daily life. So you beautiful people please follow and tag me @verameat.

    The hardest?
    The hardest part is to find time for myself! Because I love what I do I often forget to take a day off. I have reactive hypoglycemia (a form of diabetes) so I have to take time out every 2-3 hours to eat. This keeps me cooking which is super relaxing. Since I love bubble tea but it has too much sugar for me I’ve started making my own with less sugar and now made a bubble tea pin in honor of this!




    What’s your favorite part about pin culture?
    Pin culture is inspiring! You can transform every image stuck in your head into a little pin and let it inspire others on your daily runs. They’re hard to lose and help make old clothing items new, which I love, even hats and bags. They’re like a perfect little companion plus like a magpie bird I like anything that sparkles and tells a story!

    Do you like to collect pins yourself? If so, are there any favorites in your collection?
    Of course! I love vintage pins and pins from other countries! I found a lovely package of different bird breeds when I was in Iceland and they look beautiful together! Birds have always inspired me. Mostly crows and hummingbirds come around me a lot, and friends are always saying how strange it is but I love it!

    What do you have coming up? Can you tell us anything about any new designs you’re making?
    I love quotes on life, with banal or deep meaning, doesn’t matter, as long as it makes me stop and think! So there are some good ones coming up, just wait and see! I also love the combination of funny and real! It makes me realize life shouldn’t be as serious as I take it sometimes. Having been born in Ukraine I still have a bit of that Eastern European darkness even though I’ve been in the US since age 8.

    Describe your design aesthetic in one sentence.
    Realness for the imagined!



    Current favorites:

    Late night snack: Rose Tea or Macha Bubble Tea! Always! Anytime, anywhere!
    Song: I recently fell in love with Tame Impala’s song with Rihanna, "Same O’l Mistakes."  Show to binge watch: Seinfeld! Never gets old and always warms my heart as I’ve been in New York since age 14 it’s home!
    Guilty pleasure: Rap music, always. Loved Salt-n-Pepa "Push It" as a kid, and then Snoop Dogg "Crazy" which I always listen to driving in LA. “I don’t want no cake on my birthday, I want my cake errday." Ok, Rick Ross and Flo Rida. You know!”
    Website to refresh: www.verameat.com - because we’re always up to something new!

    To see more from Vera, follow her on Instagram
    Shop VERAMEAT