The Wickedly Talented Ladies of Macabre Merch: Six Questions for the Beauty and Brains Behind the Killer Shop, Wicked Critter Co.
I’m an obsessive collector of enamel pins, and I’ve discovered some great independent pin makers in my collector’s journey. But one of my absolute favorites is the wonderful Wicked Critter Co. Owner Ryane Hill and her husband design and create enamel pins inspired by 70s, 80s, and 90s horror and science fiction, with a healthy dose of comic book influence as well. High quality products featuring unique designs and amazing art, combined with great service and a true passion for the horror and pin collector community, make this shop one of the best in the business.
1. What was the inspiration for starting your own business and how did you get started?
I love a great accessory, whether it’s earrings, a scarf or a pin, and I’d noticed a lot of fun and funky enamel pins popping up in the horror collecting community. There were some very talented designers creating stellar pins that you just can’t find elsewhere. I recognized that these artists were filling a hole in the market and customers were responding very well, so my husband and I threw our hat in the ring. It’s been almost a year since we opened shop on Instagram, and we’re nearing two thousand followers.
2. When and how did you fall in love with horror?
I think I’ve always been a little on the weird side, even as a kid. I loved horror movies and never got scared or had nightmares, so my parents never really minded that I watched them even when I was as young as 7 or 8. As I got older, my interests also began to include true crime. The story of Elizabeth Short (Aka the “Black Dahlia”) has stuck with me since the first time I saw it covered on Unsolved Mysteries in 1992.
3. Where does inspiration for your products come from? What is your creative process like?
We won’t make a pin that I wouldn’t personally wear. Inspiration can come from anywhere, but it’s usually born out of a desire for something that doesn’t yet exist. We try not to rehash the same characters that are common in the horror pin scene, but there are some iconic characters and images that you just can’t get away from, so in those cases, we just try to design something unlike any other designs of the same character. For example, our best selling design is called The Shape and is a very simple but bold design inspired by Halloween the movie. It’s a popular character (and film), but I think our design is very memorable.
My creative process is like this: I will come up with design ideas at all sorts of inopportune times (the shower and while driving are my two top idea-spots), but I’ll write the idea down and mull it over for a while. There are many different ways a pin can be designed based on your desired aesthetic and material choices, so I like to take my time to decide what will highlight the design best. I’ll compile various images that feed into my original idea and let those marinate in my brain — and eventually a final image starts to come together. Sometimes that idea will need to be scaled down a notch or two due to cost, materials or manufacturing constraints.
4. What’s the best part about running your own business, and what’s the hardest part?
I’d say the flexibility of running my own business is the best part. I can take an afternoon off for an appointment without punching a clock. However, the other side of that coin usually means that I’m working in some way, shape or form from 8am to 11pm every day.
5. Tell me why you think it’s important for people to support small business? Is it especially important for people to support female-owned business (if so, why)?
A $20 purchase at a big box retailer means nothing to that store, but that same purchase at a small business means food on a family’s table. When you gift someone an item that was purchased from a small business, you’re really giving two gifts. Supporting small businesses is truly a win-win scenario.
Under 20 percent of businesses in the US are owned by women, even though we make up slightly over half the population. That underwhelming statistic can be changed by seeking out and supporting female owned businesses. Support doesn’t always have to come in the form of spending money, either. Social media is King for small business advertising, so sharing posts, commenting on posts and recommendations are how small businesses truly grow.
6. How can people follow/interact with you on social and purchase your products? And is there anything else you’d like to add or promote?
Our official website is wickedcritterco.com and our Instagram/Twitter is @wickedcritterco. We travel to conventions on occasion, and we’ll be at Comic Con Revolution in Ontario (Canada), Crypticon in Seattle, WA, as well as the Patches & Pins Expo in Pasadena, CA, in the coming months. We love to meet people in person and discussing our passion for the horror community.