There may be affiliate links in this post which means I may receive “thank you money” at no additional cost to you. Please know that I only recommend products that I use and love. Thank you for your support!
We’re Angie Garbot and Kirsten Goede, Co-Founders of Big League Pins. Anyone who knows us knows that we are huge Chicago Cubs fans. #CubsBesties, in fact!
Friends for over 10 years, our pin obsession was borne out of this shared love of baseball and also wanting to wear fun and stylish accessories to support our team.
Combining Kirsten’s background as a full-time graphic designer and Angie’s as a full-time photographer, we launched our passion project…creating unique, cute, fan-centric, and personality-driven pin designs.
And our passion extends beyond the Cubs and Chicago sports. We're also BIG fans of the city we call home, Chicago. Our love of bling includes fashion, pop culture, food, and weddings, too.
We also love to create custom designs, working with other brands, charities, clubs, sports organizations, and more. If you'd like a custom pin for a special event, celebration, or giveaway, please get in touch. We’d love to collaborate with you!
1. Tell us about your side hustle.
I’m Angie Garbot, a co-founder at Big League Pins. We design unique, personality-driven enamel pins for organizations, sports teams, non-profits, individuals…anyone looking for fresh, topical, and collectible pins. They’re perfect for:
- VIP / Season Ticket Holder gifting
- Fan appreciation/Giveaways
- Charity events and Fundraising tool
- Youth Program participation gifts
- Board Member / Sponsor / Donor appreciation
- Volunteer engagement
- Employee + customer appreciation
- Theme Night giveaways
- Festival & Special Event promotion
- Anniversaries/Milestone Events
We also have a successful consumer-focused Etsy shop here.
2. What inspired you to start your business?
My biz partner Kirsten and I had been friends for over ten years, and our pin obsession was borne out of a shared love of baseball (Go Cubs!) and wanting to wear fun and stylish accessories to support our team. It’s our passion project!
3. How did you make your first dollar?
Our first dollar was from friends purchasing a pin or two. Our first big client was Clark Street Sports, who picked us up in 30 of their stores a few months after we opened. That’s when we knew we had something. We met the owner through personal network connections.
4. When can you work on your side hustle? How do you make time for it?
Any day/any time. Since I’m self-employed all around, the biggest need jumps to the front of the line. There are weeks when I’m working on Big League Pins every day (especially during the high-volume holiday season). Balancing during busy photography season is trickier, but most BLP work can be done at any time…
5. How has your side hustle impacted your personal and professional life?
Personal – my family helps out with it (Mom and husband), so it feels more…inclusive?…than my photography business, which is just me and can feel isolating. It’s also made me very popular when I gift our pins to family/friends.
Professional – it’s opened many doors to people and organizations I wouldn’t normally have met. It’s added new networking opportunities. Also, since I have a biz partner here, it’s had a positive impact on my photography from a business perspective – things that I never got around to for my photo biz that we had to do for BLP (migrating to Quickbooks online, for example,) suddenly became doable, less scary – and got done!
6. What challenges have you faced while working on your side hustle, and how have you overcome them?
So many challenges! Initially, it was sourcing – everything from the pin manufacturing to packaging to payment platforms to website dev…EVERYTHING! Having a product-based business is so much different than a service-based one.
Having a partner has made all the difference in overcoming challenges in general. We balance each other out with our areas of expertise and available time. When one’s not available to work on something, the other often is… Our biggest ongoing challenge is finding the right sales help to get us to the next level.
7. Do you have any resources to recommend to someone looking to start a side hustle?
Maybe because we both already had our own businesses/were self-employed, we just sort of…dove right in! We were used to figuring things out with limited resources. I would say that two overall resources are networking and Google.
We have gotten all of our large clients (Cubs, Chicago Fire, Nike, Depaul University, etc.) from our personal networks and targeting events with an audience we think has the right people in it for us. We’ve done festivals and markets that have sponsors we want to meet. So you HAVE to get out there.
As for Google, research things that you know other people have struggled with – how do you take payments online, where are the manufacturers, what are other people charging, are there other people doing it, etc. Don’t reinvent the wheel; even if what you find isn’t perfect, you want to work in your business, not on it! (if that makes sense!)
8. What advice would you give to someone considering a side hustle?
Be sure it’s something you really and truly enjoy. It will consume you sometimes, and it will take a lot of work. But it won’t feel that way if you really love it. If it’s just to make some money, consider what you’re willing to do for it.
9. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience with your side hustle?
The more professional you are about your hustle, the more people will take you seriously.
- Put the time into creating good marketing collateral (on your website, About You, how you talk about you and your hustle online, etc.).
- Don’t skimp on things like good photography (learn how to take better pics if you can’t afford to hire someone; there are many resources for that).
- Invest time in processes to make things easier (Google Workspace has been a lifesaver with spreadsheets/docs to keep track of everything from vendors to networking contacts to resources to marketing, etc.)
- Find a way to take online payments right away and set up your hustle with Venmo/QuickPay, etc.).
People want to know who the people/persons are behind any small business, so even if you’re uncomfortable, you have gotta put yourself out there.