How We Began
Buttonsmith®, Inc. began out of a fourth-grade class project on trading Henry completed in 2013 when he was a student at Fall City Elementary in Fall City, Washington. Faced with the challenge of making something to trade at a school trading post, he rejected baked goods ("Mo-o-o-om, the baked goods market will be totally oversaturated!") and instead made pinback buttons to sell to his classmates. His dyslexia had made success in school a real challenge up to that point, so when his products very popular he was thrilled!
That summer, Henry moved to selling his products at local farmers markets. In 2014 Henry moved online to sell his products via his website and Amazon. The product catalog grew to include buttons, magnets, lanyards, fixed top badge reels and our patented Tinker Reel® badge reels, which have swappable tops.
The company continued to grow in 2015 completing a successful Kickstarter campaign to help begin manufacturing of the Tinker Reel® badge reels. That same year, the company headquarters and manufacturing facility moved out of the family home to Carnation, Washington and includes a small store front. In 2017, Walmart carried Tinker Reel® badge reels in 1600 stores nationwide. Since 2016, we have been a leader in customized products on Amazon.
Buttonsmith now has twelve employees and over $11M in cumulative revenue. Buttonsmith products are now sold on seven channels including Amazon, Etsy, Shopify and Faire. Starting with a hundred products in 2014, we now have over 10,000 products available across these seven channels. In 2022, we will be focusing on growing our wholesale pet products business, as well as investing in additional channel development.
Building the Blueprint for the Future of American Manufacturing
Buttonsmith creates items on demand. We've developed a suite of proprietary software applications that aid order management, product configuration, and listing development, as well as digital product photography, to enable us to manufacture goods in under three labor minutes.
Our proprietary software-driven manufacturing process allows us to make exactly what consumers want on-demand, with essentially no waste, AND without having to ship products halfway around the world. Using the power of software and computing, the Buttonsmith Operating System marries the efficiency of the assembly line with the personal touch and connection of the artisan craftsperson - in a format that is profoundly scalable. For the first time in human history, it's possible for nearly every manufactured item to be made exactly how the customer wants it, when they want it.
In the spring of 2020 amid the pandemic, Buttonsmith was able to shift the business to selling cloth masks.. We had our cloth masks available on our website and Amazon months within a few weeks. When the first masks from China touched American soil, Buttonsmith was already on our 3rd iteration of masks based on real-time customer feedback after 100,000+ had reached American homes.
Our approach cuts down the time it takes to bring new items to market from months to only minutes. We can get goods into customers' hands faster than any foreign manufacturing because we have our production in the United States. We can shift production around to meet market shortages as new demands emerge.
Socially Responsible, Union Shop, Environmentally Friendly
Buttonsmith understands the value of being employee friendly, community friendly, ecosystem friendly and environmentally friendly. We are a 100% union shop affiliated with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), which is part of the AFL-CIO. We specifically choose manufacturing processes that do not harm the environment or our employees.
We use 100% sustainable energy for our production and are in the process of becoming a certified B-corp.