I treated myself to some new anime themed enamel pins this month and thought about not just my love for pins (enamel, acrylic and lapel pins) but the ones that showed my adoration for anime in general. I thought back on an older piece on the site by Chris where he wrote about finding joy in being a collector of the fandoms and media he loved. Included in the category of BNP’s Guilty Pleasure Confessionals, I loved that he ventured into his history of collecting–from his childhood hobby of loving Pokémon to what he’s picked up as an adult.
He reinforces that we should find joy in our collections, we should find comfort, and they should bring us community and good memories. Overall, it is a piece that I come back to reread every so often as it is timely and a great personal piece. This week when I was looking at my newest additions to my pin collection I thought of all the love and money that I poured into my collection, in particular the anime themed and inspired ones and what to share more about them and what they mean to me. Also, I wanted to include some tips on those who want to start collecting enamel pins of their own!
My (Discontinued) OG Faves
My absolute favorite anime enamel pins come from the Adorned by Chi, the Magical manga series & lifestyle brand started up by Jacque Aye. Some of the brand’s biggest milestones were having some of Aye’s original magical characters licensed by Hot Topic, and having a DREAM collaboration with Sanrio. I’ve purchased and have been gifted many items from the brand over the years and my favorite items have to be all the many enamel pins that I’ve collected. From super cute takes on some of our favorite Ghibli characters to Black girl versions of some of our favorite Anime heroines, these forever stand out and get asked about. My Sailor Moon and Kiki pins are big enough to sit on the collar of my jean jacket collars comfortably and always get worn and complimented when I wear them to Disney Land.
These pins are also discontinued merchandise from the Adorned by Chi brand that is taking a break as its creator Aye is pursuing her author dreams to great success–seriously go buy her books! What I love most about my pins here are that they were among some of the first Black-owned brands that I found circulating on social media. Finding Adorned by Chi led me to other Black-owned and women-owned small businesses, and I even found more online connections from other nerdy fans through this brand. Whenever I wear these enamel pins, I am reminded by just how much they compliment me and my sometimes kawaii/cute fashion style. Now that they are truly limited edition, I take special care of them and cherish them every time I wear them! To feel at my magical girl self, I’ll wear these!
My Early Pandemic Era Purchases that Bring Me Joy
During the early part of the pandemic, I bought stuff, like many of you. Lots of it. Some of it allowed me to live more comfortably–like my humidifier, weight blanket, and melatonin sleep gummies. Other purchases like new cookware and new address label stickers helped elevate other areas in my life like my cooking expertise and professional life. Others were ‘treat yourself’ purchases. These pins here fit in that very category, and I don’t regret them. The first pin, the Masked Magical Girl Charity Pin, is in the likeness of my favorite OG Shojo girlie: Sailor Moon. I actually featured this pin by Kanpai Designs (currently on break) in a Magical Girl Themed Holiday Gift Guide I put together a year ago where half of the profits were donated to UNICEF.
The Kanpai Design pin is one that I have worn faithfully not just because I love Sailor Moon but also because she is a reminder that wearing face masks is an act of love. This checks out because Sailor Moon is the guardian of Love and Justice, after all. This is a meaningful pin that often catches eyes when I wear it on my favorite Black blazer when attending professional events or funerals. The Set Your Heart Ablaze hard enamel pin features the iconic phrase by the Flame Hashira, Rengoku Kyojiro of Demon Slayer fame. This inspiring set of words is not only one of my favorite phrases in (more recent) anime history but is from my favorite characters of the Demon Slayer franchise. I needed to hear this–again and again going through the highs and lows of the pandemic years when I needed comfort and encouragement. I love to look back at this pin and wear it on a day when I needed to summon all my inner strength and be great.
My Latest and Greatest Finds
So…another Sailor Moon enamel pin? Yes. But in all seriousness, I love a good meme pin and pin creators that bring along a sense of humor in the products that they create and sell. I had initially bought an Ami/Sailor Mercury enamel pin for a friend’s birthday and came back to buy more from the creative behind it: iheartjlp. These anime themed pins are just so much fun (and well made!): from a Naruto/Simpsons mashup to another pin featuring Sailor Moon characters recreating a iconic meme featuring cats. Sometimes you just need some fun in your life and that’s what these anime themed purchases do for me in my life. With this batch of pins, I was reminded of just how much fun a collection of enamel pins can be.
I don’t often share my anime enamel pins nowadays and with these I’ve hopefully not been insufferable with the people in my life with how much I love these and how much XP I’ve gained in leveling up. We all should find joy in our collections, point blank. (Unless, you collect Nazi memorabilia, then I hope you step on LEGOs everyday for the rest of your life. I am sending you bad energy. Please believe it. ) I love looking over pieces of my anime enamel pin collection and remembering how I felt when I first picked it up at a con or received it in the mail. I love wearing my pins and encountering someone who knows what magical girl I’m wearing or what obscure symbol from an anime is pinned on my backpack. My pins bring me joy, As they should. I hope that you are receiving joy in whatever you collect, and if you too, collect anime enamel pins: I pray all your pins are secured and are never lost.
Tips on Starting Your Own Collection
- Shop local and support indie creators! There are pins that I have brought exclusively at conventions or as add-ons from crowdfunding campaigns. Many of these were limited runs or will never be sold again which is tragic for those who missed out the first time and have to face resellers. Poke around at your local nerdy conventions in your neck of the woods and check out the vendor rooms or tables! I always found great pins and great energy doing this, and it introduced me to creators that I still follow and purchase from today!
- Beware of counterfeits! Do your best not to purchase pins from the bad rain forest store *cough* Amazon or places like TEMU, Wish or SHEIN as many copied designs from smaller creators get stolen and placed on there! Counterfeit pins hurt so many amazing creators everywhere! Pintheft.com was set up to spread awareness about counterfeits, encourage responsible shopping, and provide resources for artists.
The site mentions that “Counterfeit pins are hurting your favorite artists. When our designs are illegally copied, we lose time, money, and customers.” If you find a pin creator that you admire, be sure to follow them on social media and/or subscribe to their newsletter, blog or, Patreon, or similar online presence. This is a great way to pre-order for future pin drops, gain discount codes and coupons, and see what events and cons you can see the merch in person at!
- Take care of your pins and make sure you find additional backing posts! Also display your pins with pride! There’s a whole industry of display options and bags (like Ita bags) solely for displaying pin collections. From cloth banners to corkboard squares too! I store and display some of mine on little corkboards that easily can be set on a shelf, in a drawer or a wall. I initially bought mine from one of my all time fave non anime pin making companies, Radical Dreams–a socially conscious accessory brand that was founded in 2015 by Shannon P., a Black medical student with a passion for social justice and serving the community.
For secure pins you’ll want to consider buying flat top or ball top locking pin backs for extra security while wearing your pins. Cosmic Medium, another Black woman owned and operated company run by Laura Coleman that I have featured before on the site, started selling a converter necklace for pin collectors that seems like a neat idea to give new life to the pins collectors own.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the different types of pin backs via TikTok video! I also like these converters to help turn your enamel pins into keychains from Pins and Needle! I’ve also found Noir Voyage, another pin creator to have lots of accessories like loving pins backs, pin keepers, and badge holders that keep enamel pins safe in her online storefront.
4.) Be mindful of viewing and handling other people’s collections! Enamel pin collections are collections that fans can spend years and hundreds of dollars on. There are limited edition pins, special interlocking pins, couple pins, and pins that make up whole collections–it is not uncommon for someone to spend upwards of a hundred dollars on a special enamel pin of one of their anime faves. If someone is showing a sampling of their collection in/on a bag or allowing you to see them in their home or at a pin meetup–take care! Handle anything you’ve been granted to see or hold with care!
Ready to Start Your Own Collection?
Here are 15 creatives who make enamel pins to check out to help start your collection:
Marina Studios: who specializes in original art and some multi-fandom nonsense.
Onicake: who specializes in spooky and cute designs in enamel pins, plushies, and more
Sheila Wong: who specializes in striking art prints and some anime themed enamel pins
Sunflower Honey Studios: who specializes in anime themed pins and Black characters
Waifu Pins (Waifu Arts): who specializes in nerdy enamel pins, stickers and related goods
Nori Teahouse (Formerly Noreen Designs): who specializes in enamel pins and fandom paper products like stickers
Drawn by Ivy: who specializes in all things cute n’ cozy in pins, apparel, and bags
ArtByQBII: who specializes in anime and nerdy enamel pins, stickers, comics, and more
MidiMayo: who specializes in anime and nerdy pins, coffee mugs, and charms
Chenxira: who specializes in constantly cute + adorable + naughty art via pins, art prints, stickers, and apparel
Holobat: who specializes in fandom enamel pins, keychains, buttons, and more
Dark Devil Designs: who specializes in a wide range of enamel pins and accessories
Teal Teacup: who specializes in Whimsical, Cute, chonky, derpy, relatable designs via enamel pins
Nitelyfepins: who specializes in designing enamel pins inspired by pop culture and comic themes
A Few More Tips Before You Start Your Collection:
1.) Some pin creators have duo storefronts like a Shopify and also a website. There are many reasons for this: to have more online presence, to make shopping easier for customers in different countries, etc. I’ve always found a plethora of good quality pins on Etsy. I actually buy lots from Etsy from postcards to stickers to enamel pins. Be mindful of that you may have to wade through an influx of AI–generated goods and QAnon and Insurrection merch. Ugh.
- ) Many pin makers do “drops”– seasonal/monthly/quarterly merchandise releases. You can liken it to Limited edition merchandise drops that bigger companies and corporations do. Sometimes these are planned around the release date or a certain new season of a popular anime or film, other times it is based on the pin makers receiving products from manufacturers.
- ) Some pin creators use crowdfunding platforms and apps to fund their next set of items and products. I always thought it was a really unique way to take advantage of the crowdfunding wave and fund small campaigns for new pins. I started noticing more and more pins on Kickstarter, perhaps the most popular of them all. Doesn’t hurt to take a look. I’ve been introduced to several pin creators through the site and have even become repeat customers!
4.) LASTLY: Before you just jump in the dms or email a pin creator with recommending a pin they should make OR asking about if they can make a custom enamel pin for you: PLEASE take note that making new metal molds for pins ain’t cheap. Neither is the production and manufacturing process–many pin creator seek out manufacturing partners who have factories and companies overseas so back and forth communication is usually prolonged over a period of time just to get one or a set of products approved and shipped back for sale.
5.) I didn’t think that I needed to include this, but I will because some folks have no home training and need to be reminded: be polite and courteous to any enamel pin creator! If you go to their website and see that they are on break–don’t bombard them in the comments of their IG or TikTok page. If you think you’ve missed out on a pin drop or something limited edition, sending hate mail or doxxing them is NOT the move. If you’re looking for a shipping update, send off a short message at their provided mode of contact. TLDR: DO. NOT. BE. AN. A-HOLE. PLEASE.
That’s All from Me! Happy Collecting, Y’all!
Fancy Disclaimer: I have not received any of these enamel pins or related items in consideration of making this editorial. Cheers! Shout-out to all the small business owners mentioned and featured! Be sure to support them this holiday season if you’re looking to spend some coin!
Cover Image Photo Credit: Provided by Author. Pin Credit: BinaVivienSantos