Meet Megan. Owner of Bayleaf Buttons – Kitchener

A trend dominating the style scene in the 60’s and 70’s is making a comeback in a modern way. Whether you use them to express your personality, promote a cause or business, or share a message, you can certainly say a lot with a button. Completely customizable to suit your needs, buttons are becoming a popular addition to weddings, events, and large group activities.  With the slogan, ‘Expressing you. Sharing thoughts, views, laughs and anything you can put on a button’, Bayleaf Buttons is our community’s one stop shop for personalized buttons, keychains, and bottle openers. My personal favourite? A little “buy local” button which I keep pinned inside my purse as a daily reminder.

Meet Megan.

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This lovely lady is the creative and artistic owner of Bayleaf Buttons. When not pursuing her “hobby” of running a business, Megan knits, sews, and dabbles in graphic design. A true talent, Megan works with customers to express their vision, designing and creating buttons for a variety of purposes.

Read on for the rest of our interview:

Thank you so much for having me over tonight Megan. Can you tell me how Bayleaf Buttons got started?

A few years ago, I actually wanted to get some buttons made myself.  I was fed up with paying shipping, it was always too expensive so I said forget it, I will just get my own button maker. After I bought the button maker and was done I thought…that decision didn’t make sense. Haha! But then I decided to turn it into a business.

When I was tossing around the idea of starting the business, my friend Megan came up with the slogan I use now:  ‘Expressing you. Sharing thoughts, views, laughs and anything you can put on a button.’ As soon as she said that I could see it and decided to turn it into a business.

That’s amazing! One day you just thought you would give it a try, and now it’s turning out so great! When did you start?

May 2011.

And the name? What was the inspiration for Bayleaf Buttons?

I was still living at home when I started the business so my mom and sister helped me think of the name. I originally came up with Black Hole Buttons, it was a little edgy and could market towards the ‘music people.’ My sister said I needed to go with something softer something more…’Etsyish’ since it is more of a hand-made, hand-crafted portal. That’s where I was thinking of selling the button initially. She said “well I like Bay leaves….how about Bayleaf Buttons.” I thought okay it starts with ‘B’ which is what I was going for. We made up a little logo….we really didn’t put too much thought into the name! Haha.

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Hahaha. Well it all seems to have worked out! Where are you from originally?

I grew up in Kitchener and Cambridge, but I’m originally from Toronto. We moved to Cambridge when I was about 6.

Do you work full-time as well as run Bayleaf Buttons?

I do. When I’m not working on Bayleaf Buttons, I am a Digital Press Operator at Westmount Signs and Printing. Print is my first love, I really love working with it!

Is that what you went to school for?

I did. I went to Algonquin College back when they had the print media program. It was a one year crash course.

That’s great! What do you do as a Digital Press Operator?

Basically once the designers are done with their work and the customers have approved the design, they give it to me and I pop it into the printing system. I set it up so we get multiples on a sheet, I work with colour calibrations. I keep an eye on the branding as well. Some customers are very specific about their colours. They want the calibrations to be perfect so anything that comes off needs to be double-checked to make sure things match.

You are the quality control girl.

I am! Haha. Quality control! I also do bindery and any gluing or cutting that needs to be done.

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Do you find it hard to balance working full-time and having your own business?

Sometimes….I just don’t sleep haha! Owning your own business…you need to be good at everything. You need to be good at dealing with people, designing, and producing a great product.

Well I can tell you put a lot of care into your buttons. I’m sure people notice the attention to detail.

I don’t settle for things until they look perfect. I’ve had people send me low res images which don’t work well in the print world. If this happens, I often recreate it so it will print better, that way the customer gets the look they are after.

Do you design most of the buttons yourself?

I come up with a lot of the text based button designs myself. When I first started the business, some of the designers at my work wanted buttons. I told them to give me a sheet of designs and that helped get things started. I’m always open to new button ideas. I have a list running right now of ideas that have come from customers. Things they would love to see. I work on these when I don’t have anything else to do.

Well that’s great! Do you have any favourite designs?

I saw another button-maker’s design once that was ‘Whovian’… Doctor Who reference. It was half blue and half white and it said ‘Whovian’ and the ‘I’ was a picture of the Tardis which is the time travelling machine the Doctor uses.

My own designs actually got featured on BuzzFeed once in their post “22 Gift Ideas For People Who Hate Everything.” They referenced my “Fuck You” and “Hate You” buttons.

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Wow! I go on BuzzFeed all the time! Did you ever take any classes to learn how to make buttons?

I literally googled button businesses and the ButtonBiz website popped up. I looked around the site, asked the owner a few questions, watched their YouTube videos and just decided to give it a try. A button maker is a bit of an investment…

How many button makers do you have?

I started out ordering the 1 ½ inch button maker. After a while I bought the 2 ¼ button maker off a woman from Guelph. She used it once for a wedding, and that was it. My boyfriend’s friend Crysta has a 1 inch button maker, so we team up. I give her all the 1 inch buttons to make. She works under the Bayleaf Buttons umbrella. So now I have 3 sizes of buttons to offer customers, a small, medium, and not huge, but large size.

I’m sure people love the options. Are most of your customers local then?

Actually, I would say a large chunk of my business is based in the United States. That’s because Etsy is primarily in the United States. But when I do get local business, I get very excited because I know them!  I did Imbibe’s Craftoberfest buttons for example. I think they ordered 100 buttons or so for the event…I try to promote the local businesses and events I make buttons for, because I think what they are doing is amazing. I want to tell everyone about it.

Cross promotion!

Exactly. And it’s important to support local as much as you can right?

I think so. Well I can see Bayleaf Buttons is your passion.

My boyfriend always jokes that my hobby is running a business. It’s my version of fun!

Haha. Do you have any other hobbies then the business?

I do like knitting, crocheting…things like that, but I don’t do it nearly as much as I should. I used to do a lot of art which inspired my interest in graphic design.

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Where do you like to go out in our Region?

Honestly, I’m kind of a homebody. I go to Little’s Gym, Starbucks…we just went for dinner at the Works the other night which was delicious! I prefer relaxing at home though.

I have a feeling you’re pretty busy with the house, job and business haha.

Haha. That’s true. I have Netflix which I like to watch. If I have a big button order I sit down with all of my button making equipment and turn that on. It’s something to keep your mind busy because sometimes it does get a little monotonous. I recently did 1000 buttons for Waterloo Region’s Planned Parenthood. It didn’t take me as long as I thought it would, but they weren’t in a hurry so I could relax a bit.

What is the break-down for your business?

It’s a split between customers who order custom work to be done, and those who purchase my premade designs. For example, my ‘Whovian’ fan buttons tend to be bought by people between the ages of 18 and 40.  When looking at custom design work, it’s actually a mix between really old and really young, not much in between which is interesting. I like to work with everyone though, so it doesn’t bother me.

That’s great! Do you have a lot of repeat customers as well?

I do! That’s what I aim to attract. It’s nice to get the one-off sales but it’s so much better to have a customer who had a good experience come back and request buttons at a later time, or recommend me to a friend.

Any great customer stories?

I had this one customer, Edwina…she was in the United Kingdom and was doing this sort of rustic, DIY wedding. She ordered 150 buttons with every guests name on one and if they were part of the wedding party, they said who they were on them as well. Like ‘bridesmaid’or ‘groom’s  dad.’ They were a soft pink button with a yellow, sort of swirly font.

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Photo by Ed Godden.

I also had a lady in the States who ordered 25 keychains as a gift for her child’s class. The teacher’s even said ‘super teacher,’ which I thought was nice.

People are so nice huh! I never would have thought of that for a wedding either.

Oh ya! Buttons are great additions for weddings. You can get the small, 1 inch ones, with the bride and grooms initials on them and the date of the wedding. It becomes sort of an event favour. I also make pocket mirrors which are the perfect size for bridesmaids to do touch-ups. They can be completely customized. You can put whatever you want on a button.

What other ways do people use buttons?

Family reunions are great with buttons. They become a keepsake…they almost help remind you of that memory. Buttons for campaigns are also very popular. I’ve even had teenagers order student council buttons.

Buttons are great for brand awareness. Small businesses that are a bit more chic have them made with their logo and hand them out with business cards. The thing with buttons is that people will wear them. They pin them on themselves, and then other people see them as well. They are conversation starters. I have no problem making just one or two buttons for people if they want them. I’m happy to do that. I also make pocket mirrors, bottle openers and keychains which can be customized.

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Lots of ideas there! So what is the process then if someone wanted to order a button?

I’d say to check out the website and Etsy store. They can give me a call or e-mail and tell me more about the buttons. If they don’t know exactly what they want, I will work with them to figure it out. If they know what image they want on the button, they can e-mail me the picture as well. I will take a look and e-mail them back a proof which can be accepted or I can make changes. For payment, I accept cash and cheque. Online, I accept PayPal. I do try to make it as easy as possible.

Seems simple enough! Just to finish off, can you give me three words to describe Bayleaf Buttons?

Quality, customizable, and personable. Great service is my focus. You’re not dealing with a big box, you’re dealing with an actual person who should be going to bed but isn’t hahaha.

Thanks so much Megan!

For more ideas on how to make buttons work for your event or activity, be sure to connect with Bayleaf Buttons on Facebook and Twitter.

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Check out Megan making a button!

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