Each Saturday, we're going to be featuring a different small business owner or content creator! Getting our content, products, and voices out there to the world can be tough, so creating an inclusive and supportive community is incredibly important. As a small business owner myself, lending a helping hand to others is a key part of our business plan - we want to give back to the community that has been so key to our success!
Our second installment is with Liminal Pins who have been creating beautiful enamel pins from various fandoms!
First thing's first - tell us a little bit about yourselves!
We're from Michigan, born and raised, and we've been together for about 15 years now (we married in 2016 and met in high school). By day, we both work from home -- Nissa (she/her) works for a loan processing company and Nessa (they/them) works for an immigration law firm.
We share our home with cats (three: Aristotle, Socrates, and Walter) and a dog (Maggie) because we love having a home full of furry babies. Our hobbies include a lot of creative crafts and collecting things that appeal to our interests, including lots of books, figurines, and... well, pins!
When it comes to hobbies, we have a broad range of things that keep our hands busy. Nissa does fibrecrafts like knitting and macramé, and she bakes and cooks. Nessa sketches and paints, and writes when inspiration hits. Both of us love video games and thrift shopping for antiques and unique finds, and we love watching movies together!
What are your favorite fandoms?
We have a huuuuge range of fandoms that we both love. Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, Mass Effect, Final Fantasy, Dragon Age, Tolkien, Pacific Rim... the list goes and on and on. We both grew up in fandom, so it's a pretty big part of our lives.
When and why did the two of you start Liminal Pins?
Honestly, it was an impulse. The idea of owning our own business had been something we had discussed time and again for different products and with different goals, but the moment had never been quite right. We had ideas and we had interest, but we were not quite settled on what we wanted to do with it. Uncertainty was a big thing that held us back, but it really felt like something changed during the pandemic.
We started really getting into collecting enamel pins and fantasy pins during the pandemic,
because we were... looking for a way to cope, honestly. Nissa always loved enamel pins and had a tidy collection of her own, but fan-made pins were new to us. We engaged in collecting for nearly a year and found ourselves starting to be more and more curious about the production side of things. We explored the process and talked with creators in the community about what it was like, and used that knowledge to start building a plan.
Nessa had the idea for a pin based on Michelangelo's "Pieta" statue and we tossed the idea back and forth before we finally decided to take the leap. We approached our artist, Sarah (@commandersarah), about making it a reality. In January of 2021, we made it happen and put our first pin into production.
It finally felt like it was the time for us to make a small business happen-- this business has allowed us to stretch our creative muscles and give back to the fandom community with amazing little pieces of art that folks can collect. We haven't made it our full-time job and run the business entirely in our free time, but we would love to see it become something we can continue growing and expanding.
What products do you sell?
Mostly enamel pins. We'll readily admit that our pins tend to be on the bigger side, because we love a statement piece, but we're working on introducing some smaller, open edition designs. We're also exploring opportunities for additional products, including prints, keychains, stickers, standees... and maybe more!
Where do you sell your products?
Predominantly Instagram, in terms of promoting our designs and organizing sales. Our sales are conducted through our Big Cartel site (https://liminalpins.bigcartel.com/)
What have been some of the lessons (both good and bad) that you both have learned since starting your business?
The number one thing that we've learned is that it won't always go right the first time, so you have to be ready to keep pushing and make it right. We've definitely had our moments of feeling defeated, even wondering if we should just give up, but we've made ourselves keep pushing and keep trying. What we're currently trying to teach ourselves are two important things when it comes to running a small business: 1) manage your time effectively and well so everything gets done when it needs to and 2) pay yourself for your time.
We run our business entirely from our free time and all of the money for the business goes back
into the business. But lately we've been realizing we need to adapt and adjust a little to account for the amount of time we dedicate to the business. It's a slow-going process, but... we'll get there.
When it comes to the good things that we've learned, it's all about the community. Creative communities aren't perfect and never will be, but there are so many positive, uplifting, and amazing people in the community that have such unique ideas and approaches to making products for fans. We have been blown away by the support and care and interest that other creators take in our success, and we've made some amazing friends along the way.
Don't be afraid to take that leap -- send that message, create that design, explore something new. This business has really showed us that the opportunities are out there and you can do SO much as a creator.
What has been your favorite product or product line to work on and why?
What we affectionately call our "series that isn't a series." We have a plan for a broad range of pieces inspired by classic art from around the world, beginning with The Pieta. Other designs include our "Birth of a Senator" (Padme + The Birth of Venus) and "île de tribunal" (Rex and Ahsoka + Paolo e Virginia), but there's so much more to come.
What is your favorite fandom to work on?
Star Wars. It's been our primary fandom to work in and creating dynamic designs for Star Wars has made both of us so happy. We're both big fans of the prequel era (and huge fans of The Clone Wars/The Bad Batch and clone troopers), as well as the Original Trilogy!
What has been your most popular product?
We'd probably have to say The Pieta. Technically, it's still in production (it's been a long labor of
love) but the interest people have showed in the design really blows our minds. We've also had a lot of interest in our kyber crystals, including our charity Pride crystals, and our Rex & Cody design sold out phenomenally fast (and inspired us to keep making more clone designs).
What is one product the both of you wish got more love?
Our Mass Effect pin! This piece means so much to us and to our artist Sarah (@commandersarah, whose username is an homage to Commander Shepard!).
What is your favorite social media platform to use and why?
Instagram, by and far. It's not perfect, but it gives us the best opportunity for interaction (both in terms of us interacting with the community and folks interacting with our business). We get to see so much creativity on Instagram from creators, artists, photographers, collectors... it's really become a little home and haven for us.
Where else can we find you two on social media?
So far, just on Instagram (@liminalpins). But keep an eye out because we're exploring expanding onto other social media platforms...
Is there anything else we should know about yourselves or your business?
We have a lot of goals and dreams for where we want to take our business and we really cannot wait to see where we end up. We're aiming toward fully self-funding our pin productions (currently we do utilize presales) hopefully by the end of the year. On a more personal note, we're both pretty friendly people, so please feel free to pop into our messages, tag us in stuff, or hang out in our occasional live (which will sometimes feature cameos from the pets). We love the pin collecting community and love getting to know folks more!