The Science March has received more than $40,000 of support from an unlikely source: the small pin-making company Pincause. MTV News spoke to company founders Kate Lind and Nate Stevens, and the artist who designed the “Science not Silence” pin, Penelope Dullaghan, about how this unlikely partnership between science, art, and a small business came about, and why these pins have had such a profound impact.
[This interview has been edited and condensed.]
MTV News: How did you come up with the idea for a company making pins to support causes you believe in?
Kate Lind: I wanted to create something for the Women’s March. I didn’t totally know what it was, but I knew I wanted it to be a pin. Something you could wear no matter where you were marching. I wanted to raise money for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, two organizations that matter a lot to me. So I came home and I said, “Nate [Lind’s business partner], I have an idea. I want to make these pins, and I want to make, like, 2,000,” which sounded insane.
Nate Stevens: I came up with the name Pincause. And then I thought, Well, with this name and this concept we could raise money for lots of big causes with lots of little works of art. I said, let’s try to raise at least $100,000 to $200,000 for Planned Parenthood and the ALCU, and let’s see what we can do from there. That’s when we met Penelope and started to have the artwork.
Penelope, how did you get involved with this?
Penelope Dullaghan: Kate and Nate emailed me kind of out of the blue, which is how most of my work comes in, and asked me if I wanted to be the artist for the Women’s March pin. It’s a cause near and dear to my heart so I was definitely on board, and that’s kind of how we got connected.
The Women’s March pin is “I love you” in American Sign Language. What was the idea behind that, Penelope?
Dullaghan: I sketched a closed-hand fist that was all different colors to incorporate all the different groups and people who [were] represented by the Women’s March. And then we kind of discussed it over Skype, and we thought, you know, we want our message to be more positive and more inclusive, so why don’t we open it up into the ASL symbol for love. I think all three of us were like, yes. It’s so iconic and just the perfect tone that we wanted to take.
After that first pin, you went on to do a pin to support refugees, and now you have the March for Science pin that Penelope also designed. What was the inspiration behind this latest pin?
Dullaghan: We wanted an image that people could be inspired by, you know? Something that was easily gettable to all people, not just scientists. And so we were looking in the realm of images that evoke a sense of awe and inspiration for people. So we were thinking of the rocket for that.
And the phrase “Science not Silence.” Why was that chosen to push this campaign?
Lind: We worked really closely on this pin with the March for Science. And you know, they had a few ideas in the beginning about resistance, but they sounded the most excited about “Science not Silence.” It resonated with us as something [that] we understood quickly.
What makes two small-business owners and an artist want to put this much work in for science?
Stevens: We live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is a research hub for all sorts of studies, and I know people who are [doing] all sorts of science and stem cell research here that was stunted [by federal budget cuts in previous administrations], which was really unfortunate to see. And my mom was a food scientist and a food-science educator, so seeing a lot of the faulty thinking behind food marketing and food science is something I’ve been aware of my whole life. So once I heard about the March for Science, I wanted to get involved.
Lind: I also come from a family of scientists and science-minded people. I think I just felt compelled, because it’s scaring me that we live in a time when reproductive health, as well as science and facts, are being questioned. I feel so strongly that these are not political issues. These are just issues that should be fought for. There’s a lot of scientists who don’t feel comfortable getting out there, [but] I feel really comfortable shouting from the rooftops.
Dullaghan: I have a daughter who’s 8 years old. For scientific research to be kind of shoved under the rug right now, that just seems very scary for her future and for our future as people and as a planet. And that really provoked me to move into how art and science are companions. Art can help amplify the voice of science. So I was really happy to be able to work on this project and help put the word out that this is something that needs to be paid attention to.
Do you have a milestone set for when you feel this pin has been successful?
Stevens: Around $100,000 I think. We’re almost halfway there. We’re a little over $42,000. But we were able to make a contribution to the march very quickly, which helped them when money was tight. Because putting on a march is a very expensive thing. Now, we’re gonna continue to raise money after the march to continue with advocacy and education. So we set these really big goals, and that way, if we get halfway there, we still feel very good about it. I think we’d love to continue and sell another 40,000 pins if possible.
Lind: We’re excited that a lot of kids are excited about this and think, Wait, I like science, I want to wear this pin. Our hope is that people will be wearing their pins out at the grocery store and see each other and have this moment of like, we’re on the same team. [Or kids will] be at school and they see their friends wearing it. Or there’s an office and someone has it on their laptop and they’re like, oh, we’re like-minded. That’s sort of our hope, that people feel a bit safer and more comfortable having conversations.
After the march, are there any other causes that you guys have your sights on?
Stevens: One really big goal that I personally have is actually doing a pin to support the fundraising that Wiki Foundation does every year. We would love to create a symbol for them to kind of start a conversation about Wikipedia and about the collection and storing of knowledge in our modern age.
Lind: [Our] refugee pin didn’t really have its day in the sun. So we’re gonna come back to that one after this, once the March for Science is over. We set goals, and we talked to the International Rescue Committee about it. We want to make sure that we can hit some of those goals with them.
Stevens: Going forward we want the organizations to be part of this themselves. So it’s not just us doing it, we have the help of them in creating the artwork as well as getting the message out, because that just makes it so much more powerful when it’s supported by an organization.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about the March for Science or Pincause?
Stevens: I think what’s most impressive even to us about this project is that raising money just a few dollars at a time means we’ve engaged tens of thousands of people in this effort. We’ve really shown that a small work of art and a big group of people working toward a big cause can make something really big happen, and I think that if we keep working toward it we’ll continue to make more big things happen.
Lind: If you have an idea, just blow it up and make it as big as you think it can be, and just start doing it. We all doubt ourselves so much, and sometimes you just have to say, no, I’m gonna try to raise $100,000. And now Nate and I have done that almost one-and-a-half times. So, we just want people to try things.