It’s become increasingly popular these days to wear your politics on your sleeve—or better yet, your lapel.
Cue local business Busy Beaver Button Co. (3407 W. Armitage Ave.). The company, which has been in operation since 1995, makes bespoke buttons for everything from local bars and bands to colleges, nonprofits and more. But orders tend to spike around election time, and this year is definitely no exception.
Even in the age of Facebook and TikTok, there’s still something about donning a pin-back button in support of your favorite candidate or cause that appeals to people (it’s also harder for the Russians to manipulate).
LoganSquarist recently caught up with Denise Gibson, director of marketing, sales & customer experience at Busy Beaver Button Co., to get an inside look at the political button game ahead of Election Day in Chicago.
Is there anything about this election season that’s different from past ones you’ve worked on?
The season started early! We made more than 1 million buttons for the 2016 presidential election, so we had some idea of how we needed to adapt for 2020. But the campaign rush hit early—we initially anticipated getting busy starting right about now, but the rush actually hit in November of last year. We had to staff up earlier than we anticipated and get a lot of people trained to press buttons very quickly.
Are you involved in work for local, state, national campaigns? All of the above?
All of the above. We also work with a lot of grassroots organizations (note: Busy Beaver Button Co. was not able disclose its work on specific campaigns).
How does the button-making process work?
People are always surprised that buttons are still made by hand. We have machinery to automate the process, but each button is still handled by a person who places the button parts in a machine. Even at a large scale, the button making process is still somewhat DIY.
Why do buttons continue to be so important to political campaigns?
Buttons are so wearable—they make it easy for people to support their candidate publicly in a very personal way.
Are there any design trends you’re noticing this year? What kinds of buttons are people asking for?
Campaigns are really into our matte buttons and our hemp paper buttons. We’re also seeing a push for more eco-friendly products and packaging. All of our buttons are made in a solar-powered facility with recycled parts.
Do you have a favorite campaign button? Either one you’ve worked on, or historically?
I love all of the buttons from Hillary Clinton Campaign’s The Forty-Five Pin Project during the 2016 election. We were lucky enough to have made those buttons for the campaign and it was fun to see all of the creative designs.
More information is available on the Busy Beaver Button Co.’s website.
Featured photo: Tom Vlodek