Spouses’ Pins. So many questions about them out there! This will likely be only the first of many posts about Pins. So let’s just start with the basics of getting them!
In some of the networking sites I belong to, I see questions about the ins and outs of the spouses’ pin on a daily basis. Where to get them? How much do they cost? Who pays for them? And so on.
Let’s see if I can clear up some of the confusion. To start with, are you new to a unit? Has ordering new Pins become your task? Lucky You! It’s not as hard as you think.
First of all, did you inherit any of the old pins? Do you like them? Do you want to just order more of those? This is your easiest route. Find out where the old pins came from, and place a new order. If nobody can give you this information, just look on the back of the pin. Usually the manufacturer will stamp something on there to identify themselves. Going through the same company will usually save you time and money if you do another production run of the same pin.
But what if you don’t like the old pins? Maybe they are low quality, or the wrong size, or maybe you want to spice up the design a little bit. If that is the case, you need to find a new company. Ask around for recommendations, or you can do what I did: Contact several companies (you can find them through an internet search) and go with the one that provides the best service or best price for your your budget. Quotes are almost always free, in my experience, and asking for quotes gives you an idea of what you can expect from the company: Did they get right back to you? Answer your questions in a timely manner? Were they friendly? These things helped me form a decision of who I wanted to work with.
Send as much information as you can with your request. What size are you looking for? How many do you want? What materials do you want the pins to be made from? Send pictures of the unit crest & the old pin. Digital files of the crest are important to send as well.
The first company that got back to me was Quality Lapel Pins. They sent me a digital proof of what they had in mind for my order, along with pricing information and production times. I sent back some change requests; they sent new proofs. More changes from me; more proofs from them.
In the meantime, some of the other companies sent me similar quotes and proofs, but I was already pleased with the service that I was getting from Quality Lapel Pins, and nobody was beating their prices, so I stuck with them.
Finally, I was satisfied with the proof that I got! I had decided to go a little crazy and design something (with LOTS of help from the pin company ) that was very different from the previous pin. I wanted the spouses’ pin to be completely distinguishable from the uniform pin that could be bought at clothing sales. I wanted the size, shape, and design to be unique. I know that I am extremely picky (rather than choosing a silver or gold pin, I wanted both. I can be a pain.), but the company was extremely helpful and the final proof looked like this:
I accepted it and ordered 100 of them, which I thought would be plenty, but was really not nearly enough. More on that in a minute.
Because of the excellent communication from the company, they turned out exactly like I expected, and they arrived in less than 3 weeks, which is pretty standard for a non-rush order.
As you can see, no surprises! They look just like the proof!
Even though these were designed with a small Coffee Group in mind, that’s not the only thing that they were used for.
My husband and I both handed these things out like candy.
We had a lot of visits from Veterans of the unit, so they always got pins, and they loved to put them on their baseball caps.
We distributed them to the families of fallen soldiers at Memorial Services.
If any kind of group went anywhere representing the unit in civilian clothes (for example, a group represented the unit at the AUSA conference), they went with these pins on their lapels.
In retrospect, I wish we had ordered a second, smaller batch of tie-tack sized pins, because I think those would have been cheaper and more popular with some groups, but, alas, hindsight is 20-20.
I ended up placing at least one more order of the same pins. Maybe two. One hundred pins, especially unique pins that nobody had seen before, were more popular than I imagined they would be. They really “fit the bill” in a lot of areas where a small token of appreciation or recognition is appropriate.
The big question that most people have is “Who pays for the pins?” I am going to put a big disclaimer right here before I say another word:
Okay, now that I have said that, here are my two cents. The Commander has to pay for the pins. Not the FRG, not the unit. You might be able to do a pin as an FRG fundraiser. That’s different. There may be loopholes as far as unit funds. For example, if the pins are distributed to every soldier in the unit, signed for, and returned when they leave, I have *HEARD* that unit funds *MIGHT* be able to be used. Check with JAG if this is how you want to go about it. But, for the sake of just about every other situation?
The Commander pays for the pins. Out of personal funds.
Which can be kind of pricey, but, in the long run, can make for something that is nice to hand out, and that is cheaper than a Challenge Coin.
You can get your prices down by changing the materials used, changing the size, using fewer colors, etc. Ask the company that you are working with for suggestions on making your design more affordable. And you can always bring down the price of the individual pin by ordering more at once. The individual price for one pin when you order 100 is higher than the individual price of the same pin when you order 300; sometimes the difference is significant.
My take on it was, if my family is paying for these things, and I am the one tasked to design them, then I am going to have a little fun with them. Might as well have some ownership if the money is coming out of your own pocket!
Here is the thing….I don’t wear traditional pins, or brooches, or even a lot of any kind of Jewelry. I am not a great accessorizer. So, when I first got married and started going to unit functions, it took me a while to warm up to the idea of the spouses’ pin. I used to keep my pins in the cupholder of my car, because I would never remember to put one on before heading out to a coffee.
Now that I have bought them myself, though, I do kind of love the tradition. I have a small box full of pins now from different units, and each one reminds me of the people we have known and the places that we have lived over the years. It’s like a little timeline of memories that makes me smile.
So enjoy the Pin ordering process! Yes, it is a gripe-worthy expense. But try to remember that, years down the line, someone will pull out that pin and it will evoke a memory of a place in time. And that really makes the expense worth it to me!