In movements, protests, campaigns and calls to action across the years, one small object has often been there: the button. Busy Beaver Button Co. (3407 W. Armitage Ave.) continues that tradition with its new “Support Ukraine” button pack.
Founded in 1995 by Christen Carter, Busy Beaver specializes in creating custom buttons. One of the driving forces behind the company is the role of buttons in making a statement. That role has inspired Busy Beaver collections related to LGBTQ+ pride, gun control, the COVID-19 vaccine and, now, support for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.
“What we’ve seen all throughout history is that buttons have been at the forefront of it all,” said Busy Beaver’s marketing manager, Shelby Wendland. The company boasts the world’s only museum dedicated to pin-back buttons, with items dating back to George Washington’s 1789 inauguration.
Wendland said she strongly believes in the power of buttons to make a statement and support causes important to the wearers. “You have 1 inch, sometimes more, to say what you want to say. There really is little room for misinterpretation. So what’s going on there is only what matters most.” She said she hopes those who purchase the buttons will be able to start important conversations with those who may not be properly informed about the situation in Ukraine.
“Strongly Looking To The Future”
The Support Ukraine pack includes three buttons, two with the Ukrainian flag and one featuring a piece of art from the permanent collection of the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (UIMA), which partnered with Busy Beaver in the creation of this pack. The painting, “Untitled (Portrait of a Woman in Red Headscarf)” by Marion Kryczka, depicts a woman in a traditional red babushka with a modern graphic T-shirt.
The institute’s marketing manager, Alexandra Senycia, said this work was chosen for its depiction of “a woman strongly looking to the future.”
As both UIMA and Busy Beaver are women-run organizations, they aimed to honor the women of Ukraine and all the everyday, innocent people impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Half of the proceeds from the button pack will go to Razom, a global nonprofit sending life-saving medical supplies and communications equipment to Ukraine, as well as evacuating vulnerable children and families.
“What buttons are kind of symbolic of is being a voice of the people and the masses,” said Wendland. “Our founder always says, ‘It literally allows you to stand behind your belief.’”
The Support Ukraine pack is available now at Busy Beaver Co., which is open weekdays from 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m., or on the Busy Beaver website. UIMA is running a special exhibition on protest art and is open from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
Featured photo: Francisco Hernandez