Pintrill’s Jordan Roschwalb on the True Definition of Pin Culture
The brand Pintrill, out of Brooklyn, NY, answers the question: What if you took the collectible world of pin culture, and speared it through your phone and into your text messages?
Jordan Roschwalb started Pintrill in April 2014 with his girlfriend Doni Gitlin and homie Andrew Yung. He talked to us on the phone about the communal power of pins and future possibilities for the Oxford English Dictionary.
After speaking with him, we’re even more certain that these pins will get you noticed at a music festival or on the street. And maybe bartered with.
Nordstrom blogs: You want to start off introducing yourself and telling us a little background?
Jordan Roschwalb: Sure, my name’s Jordan, and I’m from New York. I started Pintrill in Brooklyn with my girlfriend and my friend Andrew in April 2014. My background was in automotive, in retail and corporate also, with a couple different companies. But before I started Pintrill, I was at Mercedes-Benz.
I knew I wanted to start my own company and always had a passion for fashion. After reading a bunch of articles, I decided if I wanted to do something in fashion, I wanted it to be one size fits all. I wasn’t going to hats or bags, so I thought pins was a great solution. One size fits all. And it’s not sexist at all. A guy can wear it, a girl can wear it.
Is there any tie with Been Trill?
No ties whatsoever. I just thought it was a great name to play off of. And they didn’t invent the word ‘trill.’ It was a Bun B thing and invented in the south. I just thought it was a good play on words now that will last into the ages just fine. ‘Trill’ will probably be in the dictionary some day.
What were the first pins you did?
Two of them were the logo pins, and then the 100 emoji and the flame emoji. And then you had the Good Vibes Only and the Blessed. Originally we were going to release the Crown and the Praying Hands emojis. We released the Praying Hands eventually. The Crown we still might do.
Emojis transcend generations. Ten-year-olds use phones, and speak to their moms and dads that way, using emojis.
Where do you draw inspiration from besides emojis?
Whatever’s current in pop culture and past pop culture. Things that got people going and are fun. It doesn’t need to be something that’s right in the eye, it just needs to be something we would wear. The way we do fashion and the clothes we wear, and the music we listen to and TV shows we watch are all influences. Walking into a toy store and being taken back to your childhood. Seeing a Tonka truck or a box of crayons.
How do collaborations occur with you? You reach out, or the other way around?
Ninety-five per cent it’s people reaching out to us, which is really cool. People are recognizing us as the pin company. If you wanted a heritage denim jacket, you might contact Levi’s. People are thinking about us like that with pins. In ten years we’ll be a heritage brand. We can be the pin people forever. With the Nordstrom collaboration, one of the things we did was the lollipop emoji, and it’s such a versatile pin. It’s being received so well. And Nordstrom was really open to blending with our aesthetic. The glow-in-the-dark Vibes one we did is probably my favorite.
What’s your favorite collab you’ve done?
The Naturel stuff we just released is next-level. That’s the direction I want to take everything. Not just the design, but the finish. Those pins turned out beautifully. And Theophilus London. The Michael Jackson pins we made with him turned out amazing. That was a crazy conversation, because he kept showing me the graphic. And I didn’t get it but said, OK, I trust you. And it’s so irregularly shaped but looks great.
We gotta touch on the October’s All Alone / Drake pin. How did that come about?
October’s All Alone, we don’t really know who they are. We’ve never met them, just know they’re based in L.A. They sent us an email with Drake Tears in it, and were like, we made a run of these shirts and we want to make pins. We said yes. Then total radio silence. Then six weeks before Fashion Week, they hit us up again, which is when we came up with the Kim Kardashian Tears. I really want to meet them. They’re building a brand awareness without a website. It’s amazing.
Have you heard from Drake or gotten any response on that?
No, but everyone that sees those freaks out. I was just down at South by Southwest and talking to A-Trak’s manager, and he bought $60-$70 worth of pins from me, then noticed I was wearing crying Drake, and was like, I need this in my life. It’s the craziest thing. People are so taken by it. They identify with Drake so much. I honestly can’t believe it. It’s the most requested pin on our website. But we can’t release it again. October’s All Alone is totally MIA. We can’t push them. I commend them for being so incognito, actually. They have the restraint to not self-promote.
What’s pin culture all about to you?
Pin culture is all about bringing people together and finding common interests. It’s not really about spending money, it’s about what is this worth to you? I was just running a booth at South by Southwest, and this guy had already bought several pins from me. Then he dug deeper and found this Superman pin and just freaked out. I said, do you want it? You can have it for free. He said he’d be right back. He left and returned with a bunch of Grateful Dead pins. He said, I took one of yours–you can have one of mine. He ended up giving me a Grateful Dead version of the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters. It was the sickest thing.