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Help With Button Makers

 
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My daughter would like to buy a button maker to, oddly enough, make buttons with.  I love this idea and I've encouraged her to sell her art for years, which she's done.  She has sold commissions throughout school and has been doing video game contract work while she looks for a full time job.

Does anyone here have experience with button makers?  She's leaning towards this one to get started, with the idea of getting a better press down the road if it turns out to be a viable business:

ChiButtons press  

She likes that there's a manufacturer's webpage and support.

As a proud papa I want to show what she can do:





She does all of this artwork digitally.  Here's her webpage:  Petite Chouette
 
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The only problem I see with that one is the initial kit it comes with makes 1 inch buttons. 2 inch gives a lot more room for artwork. Maybe the world has changed and the kids like the small ones, but back in the 80's when I was making buttons, 2 inch buttons were what everyone wanted, not 1. Check the price on the other dies, and they'll have to be that particular brand to work with that press, as it doesn't look like it will interchange with other brands.

The price looks high to me, as the tech on those is really simple, but again, I'm out of date on this stuff.

As far as does it look like it functions? Yes. It will make a bunch of 1 inch buttons. The tech is really simplistic.
 
Timothy Markus
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Great points, Pearl.  This brand seems to get good reviews and is in the low range of presses so we were thinking it's a good starting point.  I did just go measure the buttons she has and you're absolutely right, the 1" button seems tiny.  I think we're going to price out the 1.5" as a good trade-off between size and cost as I'm flat broke and have to sell some stuff to buy this for her.  She also said she wouldn't want to buy buttons bigger than 1.5".

I figure that she can buy a better press later on or I can make one for her once I get a shop set up.  I'd probably take a stab at making the dies myself, too, as they're about $200 for a set of 1.5" and $250 for 2".

Thanks for the feedback, Pearl.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Be sure to be realistic about how many she can sell, and where. Make sure it works money-wise, or can be written off as a bad deal if not. Might look around for a used one that someone is getting rid of. I don't know the exchange rate, but in my eyes, she'd have to sell a lot of buttons to pay off the machine, and only then start to pay herself for her artwork. Not sure of the market anymore. Not sure how much competition there is. Not sure how much anyone who wears buttons likes her artwork. Not sure how the artwork scales down to buttons. Think on all these things... :D

BTW, tell her I said "Nice work! From someone who knows the difference :) "

Has she considered something like Cafe Press t-shirt sales? You have more room for art, and they already have a big audience. Sometimes too big, you get lost in the shuffle. But I know a lot of folks who consider their cafe press stuff easy, constant, low income.
 
Timothy Markus
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I've taught her to buy used as much as possible and to look at reviews and prices at different sellers, so she's already gone through that exercise, which I like to see.  There aren't any used ones for sale up here, though we did talk about a used press of a different make and I loved how she brought up the pros and cons including the cost of gas to drive 4 hours round trip.  She ruled it out based on a few factors.  We've talked about production cost and margins for both consignment or straight wholesale approach and where she might be able to sell them.  I agree that those are very important points.

The way I look at it, as someone who's done a lot of sales, this is a great exercise in creating and selling a physical product, so it's worth the $275 I'll be paying.  It's already been great watching her do the things  I've taught her over the years to evaluate the idea.  It will take 60-70 button sales to pay for, though it's my gift to her, and she'll put aside money to buy a better model or different dies if the business warrants it.  She's very good mechanically and I'll get to talk to her about tolerances and wear and get to geek out on material science, so that's a win for me.  

I don't know anything about the market, but she's pretty hip (I'm so, so old) and she's got about a dozen buttons on her purse, so I'm happy to listen to her on that.  She's also got a relationship with a retailer and she's told me how she's going to try to leverage that for her first point of sale.  She'll sell them for $4-5 each and, at that price point, it's an impulse buy.  Also, once I get set up for meat sales, I'd love to use them for marketing, so she'll have a market there.  Additionally, I think being able to put this on her resume will be a big plus and worth the cost just for that alone.

I've mentioned Cafe Press in the past but I'll make sure to talk to her about it again as I think it would be a good option.  The exchange rate is about a third, so it's not as bad as 15 years ago, nor as good as 5 years ago, but we Canadians are used to riding that wave.  

I told her that you like her work and she was quite pleased.  She's a fantastic kid and has been a joy to raise.  She never asks for anything and always appreciates what I do for her, so it's nice to be able to do this for her.  She's settled on the 1.5" to start with and I think she's right.  I've read that that's the most popular size, so her instincts seem to be bang on, like usual.  
 
Pearl Sutton
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Excellent! When she makes some buttons, post us pics :)
 
Timothy Markus
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I sure will!
 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Maybe the world has changed and the kids like the small ones, but back in the 80's when I was making buttons, 2 inch buttons were what everyone wanted,



Omg! I had one in the 80's. Badge-a-minute. Is that what you had? I think i bought it in middle school but used it through high school. The stuff we had to go through to get stuff like this back then. See the ad in Mother Earth News(or maybe Popular Science) Send in a money order by mail to get it. How things have changed!

Also sending a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) to get more information or a catalog. Long distance calls were a rarity . That's how things were done. Lol.

Thanks for the memory prompt!
 
Pearl Sutton
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wayne fajkus wrote:

Omg! I had one in the 80's. Badge-a-minute. Is that what you had?


Oh my, I don't recall it's brand name. I'd recognize it if I saw one, but there's been a LOT of water under this bridge. Just looked up that brand by picture, and the tech is all so similar, I can't tell.
I did get rid of a button maker when I moved, but it wasn't one I had for years, just one that shook out of all the chaos of people dying that happened around that time.

The stuff we had to go through to get stuff like this back then. See the ad in Mother Earth News(or maybe Popular Science) Send in a money order by mail to get it. How things have changed!

And in the back of comic books, and science fiction magazines! :)

Also sending a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) to get more information or a catalog. Long distance calls were a rarity . That's how things were done. Lol.


Long distance calls were made at night,when they were cheap, and were kept time limited.  
My, how the world has changed. Makes ya dizzy sometimes.
 
Timothy Markus
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In high school I had two girlfriends (not at the same time) who lived in a town 20 minutes away.  It was long distance and I racked up a $100 phone bill with the first one before I learned about calling after 6.  I made $3.25/hr so it took a week's worth of full time work to pay it off.

Earlier this week I called my hometown from 45 minutes away and it's now no longer long distance.  
 
That feels good. Thanks. Here's a tiny ad:
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http://woodheat.net
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