It Girl | BRANDI SILVER
I met Brandi at the Boutique Brand Retreat hosted by Marissa and Shelby (of MRAY Co. - Read their interview here). I was absolutely intrigued by Brandi’s day job as well as in love with her pins! I adore the way that she captures pop culture icons, especially moments in black culture and wanted to know more (plus our mutual love for Queen Bey!) Read all about Brandi here:
Name: Brandi Silver
Job Title/Company: Associate Designer, VF Corporation, Founder/Designer, Pin & Proper
Education Background: Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising & Design from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (Aggie Pride!)
Wedding Planner Certification from The Bridal Society (I’ve done absolutely nothing with this certification)
1. Tell us a little about who you are.
I’m originally from Charlotte, NC but grew up mostly in Rocky Mount, NC. Since I could remember, I’ve always been a creative and utterly obsessed with fashion. There’s a photo of me as a toddler draped in fabric with a purse thrown behind my shoulder. This was just one of the early signs that fashion would be my destiny. I’m an introvert and crave quiet time. I’m observant and like to think before I speak. My non-smiling face is often misread as being mad or mean. It’s simply how God made my face. I’m not a constant smiler. It’s also a family trait. I’m living my dreams as a Fashion Designer, Enamel Pin & Greeting Card Maker. I’m passionate about giving back to the community and I participate in several community service projects. Outside of that, I’m an avid reader, I love music, the ocean, traveling, true crime, long baths, reality television & makeup makes me happy (The ladies at Sephora know me on a first name basis).
2. What sparked your interest in starting your brand?
Pin & Proper started out of frustration with the lack of enamel pins that were in the market. In 2016 I began collecting enamel pins. While searching the internet for Tupac enamel pins, I noticed that most of the pins I found didn’t even look like Tupac. I ran across one pin online labeled as a Tupac pin but it was clearly rapper/singer Nate Dogg instead. This made me question what it took to design and manufacture enamel pins. I did some research and found that I already possessed one of the main skills necessary, Adobe Illustrator. I sketched my Tupac Keep Ya Head Up pin in Illustrator, I found a manufacturer and the rest is history.
3. Who are you most influenced by?
I’m blessed to have a tribe of intelligent & strong women in my corner. My mom is my biggest influence. She is the reason I refuse to give up. The few times that I’ve thought about giving up, my mom and all that she’s overcome comes to mind and I simply keep pushing. My mom went back to school in her 50’s to pursue the degree she never completed. Her reasoning was to show her kids that it’s never too late to accomplish your goals. Soon after she started school she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatments and the lingering health problems that come along with cancer treatment, she stayed the course. My mom didn’t let cancer deter her from graduating Magna Cum Laude with not one but two degrees. When your mom is that determined, you can’t throw the towel in simply because you’re having a bad day.
Outside of my mom, Beyonce of course! Singer, dancer, performer, the hardest working woman in show business, Blue Ivy’s mama (I love Blue Ivy), hair blowing fans & all of her FASHIONS! Need I say more?
4. What was your first job and how long did you hold that position?
My first job was at Premiere Theatres in Rocky Mount, NC. It was the first 12-14 screen theater in that town and I was part of the original crew that opened that theater. I worked concessions and occasionally ticket sales. I could make a mean batch of popcorn (ask about me)! Though I went away for college, my boss allowed me to work any weekends or holidays that I came home. I worked there for a total of 5 years and I must admit that I shed a small thug tear my last day there.
5. If you are side hustling, tell us about your full-time job.
At my full-time gig, I am an Associate Designer for Lee Riders at VF Corporation. I work on Missy & Plus Denim and Non-Denim Bottoms. People often ask me what that means. I work on everything from selecting fabrics, dry process templates, hardware and thread colors to evaluating the fit on form or body. Additionally, I digitally create all the back-pocket embroidery for denim in a 3D program. I regularly spot embroidery that I’ve created on people’s butts. When I spot my embroidery designs, I try not to stare but I can’t help it. I’m silently screaming “that’s my design”. After over a decade of being in the industry, I still feel like I need to pinch myself when I see my designs out in public.
6. Can you share one of your proudest achievements with us?
My proudest achievement was taking a leap of faith with my first pin and starting Pin & Proper. Several years ago, I’d proven to be successful with making handmade greeting cards and wedding invitations. Enamel pin design and manufacture was a new territory for me. I had no idea how these pins would come out or if consumers would like them. I’m so glad I took a chance on myself! I’m proud to say that Pin & Proper is now in two stores.
7. What were your initial goals with your work? How have they evolved?
My initial goal was just to design one enamel pin. After the first pin was well received, the ideas kept flowing. I’ve now designed 5 enamel pins and several pin back buttons. I plan to continue to design pins that I would like to wear on my favorite jean jacket.
In the future, I hope to create more pin packs. I currently have a pin pack called “When A Woman’s Fed Up” that represents the levels of women being fed up. We’ve all been at one or all levels of being fed up. This pin pack allowed me to have some fun and be creative.
1st Pin: Mary J. Blige from the Not Gon’ Cry video
*cues* Eleven years of sacrifice. And you can leave me at the drop of a dime.
2nd Pin: Beyonce from the Lemonade Hold Up video featuring Hot Sauce the bat
What’s worst? Looking jealous or crazy? Jealous or crazy?
3rd Pin: Left Eye’s Mug Shot
I be the one to blame as the flames keep rising to the top. And you don’t stop.
8. What do you think is the most important life skill you learned through your work?
Time management! I juggle a lot from day to day. Between working full time, owning a business, trying to maintain a social life all while making sure my edges are laid and curls are popping is time consuming! For those reasons, Pin & Proper does not customize.
9. Where do you hope to be in five years?
Healthy, happy, semi wealthy and traveling somewhere exotic biweekly!
10. What is a typical day like for you?
Every day is different, but my internal clock usually wakes me up between 4 and 5 am. If I’m lucky, I can go back to sleep and get up by 6:15am for work. Since September 11th I must sleep with the television turned on HLN News. It’s imperative that I know what’s going on in the world, even in my sleep. I watch the news and take a bath before I raid my closet for something to wear. I usually opt for something that doesn’t require ironing or steaming. I work from 8-6pmish at my full-time gig. My typical work day consists of designing, reviewing product and standards, meetings, putting out multiple fires and managing an intern.
A typical day at Pin & Proper consists of printing and shipping orders for Pin & Proper as I get them. I personally package every single product. I try to write & include a personalized thank you in every package. Letting every customer know that I appreciate their business is extremely important to me. In my spare time, I design new pins or greeting cards. When I’m not working on new ideas and designs, I’m taking inventory of product or I’m reordering greeting cards, backing cards and shipping supplies. When time allows, I participate in Pop Up Shops and Pin Loops to bring more awareness to my brand.
11. What was the biggest obstacle you’ve faced so far in the process of pursuing your goals?
So far the biggest obstacle has been with manufacturers and lead times. I’ve worked with some suppliers that can take 6 weeks or more to manufacture after artwork approval. Finding manufacturer’s that I can trust with shorter lead times has been an issue.
12. What is the best advice you have received?
My grandmother gave me advice as a little girl that I still remember to this day. She would regularly tell me to ‘always be a lady’. I’ve literally carried that advice with me throughout my life and I think it’s served me well.
13. When do you get your best ideas?
I’m an insomniac, so I mostly get the best ideas in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep.
14. Can you share with us one time that you failed and what you learned from that failure?
I don’t think I would count anything as a failure. Anything that didn’t go the way that I expected was a lesson, it built character and gave me another opportunity to get it right.
15. How do you unwind?
Alone time is essential for me! I am an introvert and a Cancer so I need alone time to recharge. Also, long baths, a good book, a glass of wine and simply doing nothing helps!
16. What would you tell someone else who is interested in entering your field?
Do extensive research, believe in yourself and network! Networking with other pin makers and creatives has helped me so much throughout this process.