We sat down with Chicago based pin maker, Francis Almeda, to discuss the inspiration that led to the creation of his enamel pin company - REPPIN!
In 2016, I said it was my year to “launch things”. That’s all I wanted to do, just launch anything. As a professional art director/designer, I wanted to launch something that was fun, small, and easy to manage. My friends and family always wore lapel pins on their hats and jackets. We loved the pins that represented something about us. Then, I thought to myself, “Wait… I can make those?!”. I had the idea around the beginning of March 2016. Within 3 weeks I designed and produced my first pins, came up with my branding, and put up a website.
I knew that I wanted to release my pins in ‘packs’. The first pack I released were donuts. I mean… who doesn’t love donuts? I designed a chocolate donut, a general donut that would appeal to everyone. I designed a pink sprinkle donut similar to the one that Homer Simpson loved, because I knew it would appeal to the pin crowd. Then, I designed a purple donut, aka “The Ube Donut”. With the brand, I really wanted to represent Chicago. “The Ube Donut” was the 2016 Chicago donut fest champ–I wanted to shine light on the family-owned business that made them, as well as spreading the word about this donut from Chicago. I knew that Instagram was a good place for me to promote them, so that’s what I used to tell the world about my brand and these new sweet pins.
Reppin is all about representing what you love. The beauty of pins is that you can put them anywhere, they’re cheap and they say something about you. That’s the insight I wanted to tap into. As someone who has tattoos, I love the idea that visuals you put on yourself can tell a story about you. However, tattoos are painful, expensive and well… permanent. Reppin pins can do the same thing, but they’re cheap, non-permanent, and they don’t require needles going in you. They can Rep what you love.
Reppin is a brand that can appeal to everybody. My goal is to try to design a pin for everyone. This means that I’ll have to design a shitload of pins… but, that’s the really the best part of designing for Reppin. I can make anything. If I want to appeal to the streetwear crowd I can. If I want to appeal to the Simpsons or TMNT crowd I can. I can make pins for nerds, jocks, sneakerheads, gamers, foodies, creatives… the list goes on forever. Reppin isn’t limited to a specific audience. That’s the beauty of Reppin.
When joining the #pingame, I saw a lot of TMNT and Simpsons pins. These are 2 things that I love as well. I wanted to pay tribute to that. With this tribute, I wanted to make a set of pins that represents things that I loved from my childhood as well as things that I love as an adult. TMNT, Simpsons, beer, and pizza. I released the “Cowabunga Pack” which features Homer Simpson’s hand holding a beer and Michaelangelo’s hand holding a pizza. Pizza & Beer, the best combo ever.
The process for my pins goes like this:
I’m an OG TMNT fan. These turtles were the first things that I ever drew. I’m gonna say that the original turtles are definitely my favorite incarnation. The original nintendo game, arcade game, and toys were the best. This doesn’t mean that I’m hating on the new turtles though. I’m all about change and different types of storytelling. All the turtles have different characteristics and personalities, and I think the new turtles represents that well. Raphael is my favorite turtle, and him being a mean, yolked-out, humongous turtle makes me happy. But, I know haters are gonna hate ;)
TMNT II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991). That opening fight scene, man. Fucking awesome.
A Chicago streetwear store, St. Alfred’s, released 2 pins that represent Chicago: A Chicago Hot Dog and Deep Dish Pizza. I love these pins.
Since joining the #pingame, my collection has grown strong. I've traded and bought pins from fellow pin-makers. I've also started a collection of rare vintage pins that I find in random stores. Here's the latest finds... jealous much?
I like the hearing and seeing the reactions of people when they can connect to some of my pins. These small things can represent something big in your life. I like that.
We want to thank Francis for his genuine and insightful responses!
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