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Meet Christen Carter of Busy Beaver Button in Logan Square

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christen Carter.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The history of Busy Beaver is a lot like our custom buttons– it starts out simple and then grows into a world of possibilities. Christen started Busy Beaver out of her college apartment in 1995, making merch buttons for Guided By Voices. Twenty-two years later, Busy Beaver has evolved into a 25-person custom button mecca, creating over 85,000 designs and producing tens of millions of buttons for clients ranging from breweries to museums to people just like you.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Over 22 years, there certainly have been challenges and mistakes made. For the first 14 years, I was just trying to keep up with growing pains. But then realized that I could actually create a vision and apply it to the future so that we’d be ready for growth. Going to Fedex and the post office at 9:30PM every night was pretty common.

Also, as an eCommerce business, it’s been a long and interesting journey to have a great website. Our first site was in 1998, with just information and now it’s a fairly complicated backend system to make ordering easy, accurate and hopefully kinda fun for customers. We’re redeveloping it now, which comes with so many decisions and moving parts.

Busy Beaver Button Co. – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Busy Beaver manufactures pin-back buttons, magnets and other button-y things. Recently, we added stickers to our offerings because so many customers were asking us for them.

I started the business back in 1995 as part of the DIY punk scene and one of our claims to fame is re-popularizing the 1 inch button.

The thing I’m most proud of, is the people surrounding the business. We have a really great crew of people who work at the dam and also, and I mean this, really great customers and partners.

Being active in communities is really important to me, because it’s the way we help improve each other’s lives. Building relationships is key – we like people to feel like we’re their friends and want to help them be successful in expressing themselves and sharing their message.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success is something so vague that it’s hard to really say with real staying power. But, I sometimes like to think that it’s some sort of equation like: sustainability+love =success.

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