Friday, February 1, 2013

People You Should Know: Buttonhead

My very own custom buttons!
 The first time I ever heard of Buttonhead, was from a popular crafter named Twinkiechan via Twitter. She was going on and on about Ali's shop and how happy she was with her custom order. So I had to check it out for myself. By the first email interaction  I had with Buttonhead, I was so impressed with the professionalism and personality of Ali. Here I was, a complete stranger asking so many questions (that were ALL listed in the FAQ... yup I totally was one of those people at that point. Sorry Ali!), and she was talking to me as if we had already met. It wasn't in a way that was too familiar. You  know how some people do that, and you just feel uncomfortable? It was charming and refreshing! From that moment on Buttonhead made a life long follower, supporter and virtual friend. I am beyond excited for you to read the following interview and also become a supporter of Ali.

1. Please introduce yourself
Hi! My name is Ali. I'm the owner and operator of Buttonhead. I make custom button pins, round magnets, pocket mirrors, sticker labels, and temporary tattoos. I'm an independently owned and operated small business, and my studio is currently located in Metamora, IL.

2. Growing up, what did you want to be?
Thanks mostly to Bette Midler, I always wanted to be a singer/actress. I would go to school just so I could act out and sing the entire movie 'Beaches' for my classmates. At age 8, I was my very own one-woman show!

3. Would your childhood self approve of what your doing now?
Funny, I've asked myself that question many times. I didn't grow up to be a famous singer/actress, but I do still use those skills in various ways. As an adult, I realize I can't quite hold myself accountable for the ideas and impressions I had as a kid. I had no real concept of how the world works! To me, the important thing is that I'm happy with where I am today... and I am!

4. How did Buttonhead get started?
In 2007, I was working a corporate job in Chicago, and I was very unhappy. I had an acquaintance who made buttons part time in San Francisco, and I thought it would be a fun hobby to pick up, maybe make some extra money. At first, I just had buttons custom made for my friends, but then I discovered, and it quickly became a business. I quit my corporate job, left Chicago, and started working for myself full-time. At first, it was very difficult financially. Little by little, I was able to grow the business, and now here I am 5 years later: Successful and loving life!

5. Where do you get your inspiration for the products you make?
I'm so easily amused! Most of my inspiration for design art comes from quirky everyday things that make me laugh: watching some weird guy at the grocery store, seeing two birds argue over a piece of bread, realizing my underwear is on inside out. Stuff like that.

6. What is the backbone of Buttonhead?
Oddly, I think the thing that really keeps Buttonhead going is the fact that I'm never satisfied. I'm always trying to make things bigger, better, more! I'm always learning new things, growing, and putting my whole heart into making my business the best it can possibly be.

7. In your shop you can find anything from customized temporary tattoos, to buttons and stickers. Do you have a favorite item to make out of the three?
Aww, that would be like choosing a favorite child! I am partial to buttons, because they are my signature product. On the other hand, custom temporary tattoos are my most unique item, and I love exploring the world of tattoo art. Then again, stickers are my newest thing, so those are like my babies. Oh, it's just too hard to choose!

8. Are there any rituals or weird habits you have while working on Buttonhead items?
You mean, beside how I make buttons naked while riding around on the city bus? Nah, just kidding! Well, when I'm physically making things, I absolutely have to be listening to a podcast or some music. I cannot stand to be sitting there making something in silence. However, when I'm designing or doing other work on the computer, I need absolute quiet. Even the neighbor's dogs barking next door will drive me up the wall when I'm trying to focus!

9. What do you like to do in your free time?
Cook!  Eat! And EAT food that I COOK! I always love trying new recipes. I've recently started learning to sew. Whenever I have spare time, I also like to draw and color. Right now, I'm working on a top secret web comic project, which I hope to announce later this year.

10. How would you describe your personal style?
I wear 90's grunge and decorate 80's vintage. Most days, I wear jeans, a t-shirt, and a flannel or sweatshirt (representin' the true grunge!). My house is decorated almost entirely with vintage furniture and furnishings. I find that I still gravitate toward things that remind me of my childhood, and I'm a kid of the 80's/90's.

11. What is your favorite season and why?
Fall. Definitely Fall. I love feeling the crisp cool air and smelling leaves burning off in the distance. Also, I love pumpkins. They're just so freaking cute and orange!

12. Can you tell the readers what your favorite memory is?
My favorite memory is the day I got my (now 13-year-old) pet rabbit, Buns. I was performing in a Shakespeare play with my theatre group at an Olde English Fair. At the tent next to us was a farmer who had about 4-5 baby rabbits for people to see and pet. I saw Buns and immediately fell in love. I offered to buy her, but the farmer wouldn't sell. So, I (shamefully) stole her. I just tucked her up under my yellow long, flowing Shakespearean dress, and walked away. It was very, very wrong, but that rabbit and I have had quite a life together. She is in the running for the World's Oldest Rabbit Guinness World Record! I know I have loved and cared for her very well. If I hadn't 'bunny-napped' her, I don't think she would still be around today.

13. What would you say to someone starting a shop on Etsy?
Do it! Don't doubt yourself. You have something completely unique to offer just by virtue of being YOU. I started my business using Etsy 5 years ago, and it was the best decision I ever made. I used their tools and resources to learn how to run a business, get clients, make sales, and create repeat customers. It is also a wonderful place to network with like-minded people. Get into it, and never look back! Whether you are looking for home business ideas or are already offering a product or service, Etsy is the best place to start!

14. What is one thing you live by?
I try to treat other people the way I want to be treated. It's the 'Golden Rule', man! The moment someone loses sight of other people's feelings, they've become a walking, talking ego. I can't think of anything more unappealing.

15. Do you have a favorite quote?
“I worry about your future.” -My mom

Ok lightning round! Say the first thing that comes to mind with the following words:

1. Cats – meow!

2. Rain - bow

3. Coffee - breath

4. Beauty - is balance

5. Time - 9:21 PM

6. Social Networks – buzz

7. Falling – in love

8. Helpful – super thanks!

9. Adventure - action

10. SPiCEY – ricey (of course!)

Is there anything else you would like the people reading to know?
I'd like to say thanks to the readers and to my friend, SPiCEYRiCEY. I wish the very best for you all!

Where can they find you?
Feel free to say hi to Buttonhead on Facebook and send a tweet to @buttonhead_org

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