With Halloween tomorrow and the season coming to an end, I wanted to feature a shop that felt fitting for the time of year. Of course, the only way I know how to do that is by sharing a shop that's not has a line of spooky accessories right now, but ones that are adorable as well.
Brittany Ketterman is the creator of the Pretty Candy Pin Company, and while her main focus has been enamel pins, she's expanded her products into hair accessories, earrings, and as you'll soon read about, reusable straws. Regardless of the type of product, everything you'll find at the Pretty Candy Pin Company mixes all things weird with adorable. There's everything from a heart that says Goldblum (to celebrate everyone's boyfriend), to eyeball earrings, to pins with possums dressed in Halloween costumes. The shop is filled with color and sweetness, but with a unique flair. I've followed Brittany on Instagram for quite some time, and her personality comes through in everything she makes. Whether you're looking to grow your collection of witty enamel pins, gearing up for some Christmas items, or just want another fun shop to follow, you'll love learning more abut Brittany's business.
Q: Let’s start from the beginning. Can you tell me a little bit about the process of starting your business? What made you want to do this and how did you turn your idea into a reality?
A: I have dabbled in a lot of different shops and products, starting all the way back around 2001. I used to make clutch bags and jewelry and I sold them in a local shop run by a friend of mine. I opened an Etsy shop in 2007, selling bags, jewelry, handmade collage notecards, and fabric from my personal stash. I put everything to the side for a few years while I had kids and worked full time, then I started again in 2013 with polymer clay trinket dishes, earrings, pins, cross stitch, and hand illustrations. Enamel pins came along in 2016, and they quickly became my main focus.
Q: What was your first product to take off or find enough success that you were encouraged to do more?
A: My very first design was my aquafaba pin. Aquafaba is loved in the vegan baking community, and as a new (at the time) vegan baking lover, I felt inspired. It ended up being a really smart move, as the vegan community is endlessly supportive and wonderful. The success of that design, plus the ease of filling orders when I didn’t have to spend hours hand making each item, really made me feel like I’d found my thing.
Q: What were your friends and family’s reactions to you starting a business? Were you nervous to share it?
A: They’ve always been very supportive of me, but it was never more than a casual hobby before I began designing pins. My father in law even took one of my designs and made it the official mascot of his bagpipe band!
Q: Did you work another job while you were starting? How long did it take you to turn this into a full-time venture?
A: I worked full time for ten years in an office in our county’s courthouse. My business ventures during most of that time were just a way to hold on to a creative outlet between working in a very stressful and depressing job and being a mother at home. I went part-time in 2013 and switched over to the voter registration and elections department, so I had a lot more time at home to work on building a shop. I quit my job entirely in 2017 and have worked for myself ever since.
Q: It seems to be pretty common for entrepreneurs to start their shops because they have a specific talent and then have to learn the business side of things (marketing, finance, eCommerce, etc.) as they go. Was this case for you or did you go into it having that knowledge? What was the most challenging part for you?
A: This is absolutely me. I was a frustrated artist who knew I didn’t belong in an office, but I’m not a business person. I’ve made it through without any major problems, figuring things out as I go, but I know I could be doing so many things better and smarter.
Q: I love that you’re making reusable straws stylish! How did that come about, and how has it been marketing a product like that (especially compared to accessories)
A: Honestly, I have no idea how that happened, haha! I had been using stainless steel straws at home, and when I came across a manufacturer offering straws in gorgeous finishes like rainbow, I had to have them. I placed a small bulk order, and I figured I’d offer the extras up in my shop in case anyone else liked them, too. They sold out within an hour. I ordered the same amount again, and again they sold out within an hour. Straws are absolutely everywhere at this point, but at the time, I think I stumbled into the market at exactly the right moment. I’ve carried so many different finishes and sizes, stocked so many shops across the country and Canada, and sold thousands of them. At this point, we are on the downslide of this craze, and I’ve decided to stop carrying straws in my shop by the end of the year. During the height of the straw sales, I was honestly getting pretty discouraged with my shop. It felt like nothing I designed got anywhere near the amount of attention or sales that the straws were getting, and it felt a bit pointless. On the bright side, it did free me up a bit to design whatever I wanted and get weird with it. The straws covered the production of the pins and earrings, so if I had an idea I wanted to get made, I did it. Some of my personal favorite designs came out of that freedom.
Q: Favorite item in your shop currently?
A: This is such a hard question. I think I’d have to say the holly leaf earrings I released last year. I’m such a Christmas lover and a lover of big, bold earrings, so they are the most “me” of anything in the shop.
Q: What’s your advice for someone looking to stand out in the world of enamel pin making?
A: The most important thing is finding your niche and your audience. The market is so saturated, so you have to be sure you aren’t trying to sell people something that already exists in 100 other shops. Your shop and your art should be full of your personality and style so that you can effectively build your own little community and be excited about what you make.
Q: What do you wish more people knew about shopping with a small business?
A: That we are real people with families and lives and obligations. We aren’t Target. We aren’t corporations. We certainly aren’t billionaire CEOs. Every sale means the world to us and helps support us and our families. We often handle every single aspect of business completely on our own, so be kind and understanding and patient. With it being so easy to shop online for absolutely everything anymore, I think it’s easy to forget that we can’t always offer the same low prices or fast shipping as something like Amazon. But our sales and customers actual matter to us, unlike something like Amazon.
Q: What goals do you have for your business going forward?
A: I am in a real season of transition right now with my shop focus. I’d love to get into even more handmade items, more original artwork, and more clothing. I’d love it if my shop came full circle back to my roots of sewing and creating by hand, and I’d love to learn even more creative skills.
Q: Lastly, let’s spread the love. What are a few of your favorite small shops owned by women that you personally shop from?
A: I will be honest that I very rarely shop for myself. Being surrounded by things I NEED every time I open instagram gets overwhelming, so I tend to get frozen with indecision and end up buying nothing. But! Some of my favorites are:
Follow along with Brittany: