I'll be the first to admit that I'm a wuss when it comes to horror movies, and while I got more into it this year, Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. So then why am I so in love with Two Ghouls Press? Well, there are a lot of reasons, actually.
The brand, started by Elise Brunkel and Daniel Watkins, is filled with spooky pins, patches, and more that, for lack of a better word, are all just plain cool. One look at their store, and you can tell immediately that they're making what they love. While they started with turning their artwork int enamel pins, there's also a mix of other fun items like candles and pendants. And for every Friday the 13th and classic monster item, there are Wes Anderson and Hocus Pocus pins for even the scaredy-cat like me. Elise and Daniel are very obviously fans making things for other fans. I first came across their shop a couple of years ago when I bought a set of X-Files pins from the store, and looking through their items, it felt like a dream come true for any pop culture nerd. Elise took the time to answer these questions, and I can't help but be charmed reading about how much more of a passion project than a "business" Two Ghouls Press is for her and Daniel. I'm sure you'll feel that as well. Enjoy!
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: Originally I was looking for a hobby to do since I switched my career and had more free time. I’ve always collected vintage brooches and pins and thought I’d love to have one of Daniel’s drawings as a pin that I could wear and cherish. I basically took that idea and started researching how to make them and the process behind it. That led to wanting a platform to share more of our art for others to enjoy.
Q: What was your first product to take off or find enough success that you were encouraged to do more?
A: We kinda hit the pin game before it took off, which was great because our first design, Abnormal Brain was based on Young Frankenstein was successful enough to pay for more products to be made. Our second design was our Handbook for the Recently Deceased which also was a hit!
Q: What were your friends and family’s reactions to you starting a business? Were you nervous to share it?
A: We didn’t really take it that seriously as a “business”. Maybe we’re old fashioned but always kind of thought of a business being a physical location that fits into some kind of mainstream field. With our business being art that we sold online it just didn’t have that feel, however, our friends having a reaction to how many products we have and our status on social media really helped legitimize our business in our eyes. We always saw it as something fun I was doing in my spare time rather than work.
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 did and am currently working a separate job. We could have stopped our careers and made our business our sole venture however we enjoy what we are doing! Daniel is a tattoo artist and I run the management side of things for him and our shop we work at.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about the partnership between the two of you? What are some of the pros and cons of working together?
A: We have known each other since high school and have been together for years while living in a fifth wheel (which is a tiny living quarters) and working together at our other jobs 7 days a week. Our partnership is everything it would need to be to survive that situation. It’s fantastic, we love each other and have great communication and a similar work ethic as well as being artistic, that it just morphed into a great situation. My only complaint would be getting him to draw something on my time! With his job being all drawing and our business relying heavily on drawings it was probably the only real struggle.
Q: There’s such a wide range of products on your site that I love. How do you decide what types of items to design or produce next?
A: Our main focus from the start was lapel pins, however, patches just seemed to go hand in hand with that so we then pushed into that market. From there we just really wanted to make things we wanted, which is where our pennants came from. I’ve always been drawn to vintage circus and town pennants so we decided to make some based off some eerie things we enjoy. Deciding on things to produce is always a gamble, a lot has to do with beating the trends and market. Our Graveyard Shift candles were one of those ideas, we were one of the first companies to have a pin hidden inside a candle as a mystery!
Q: Favorite item in your shop currently?
A: I honestly love our Wes Anderson inspired pins! I have a whole collection of Wes Anderson items so getting to make some of my own was a treat. Oh, and our pennants, it’s the one product that can be completely true to the art. There are limitations with other products on what you can actually do.
Q: What’s your advice for someone looking to stand out in the world of enamel pin making?
A: At this moment everyone is making pins! From Walmart and Hot Topic to your neighbor. It’s competitive for sure, but I would say to be original and true to yourself. Just do something you love and that will be fulfillment enough.
Q: What do you wish more people knew about shopping with a small business?
A: So much time and energy are put into everything, and all the little details are thought out and are not free. Asking to get items for free or complaining about price points are very rude and can rip the joy from the artist. Small business is just that, a person working hard to make something for the consumer. Be appreciative.
Q: What goals do you have for your business going forward?
A: We are trying to figure out what direction we want to go in now. We have thought of shirts, to a screen printing company that can work with our careers well. Right now we will continue to share with our followers and fans while also pursuing new endeavors.
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: We love everyone over at @jessadorables Her work has grown and is based off all her original designs which is fun and kid friendly. @kmsxco Andrea has really made her brand her own, love oh she has morphed her talents of sewing into so much more. We have to shout out @spookylittlehalloween Miranda runs an all year Halloween blog and puts so much of herself into it! It’s all free and done on her small amount of off time which really just shows her passion for it.
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