We’ve been following Valley Cruise Press for years now, digging on their dual mission to support artists, and make art accessible through zines and wearable artwork (think vibrant pop culture illustrations shrunk into patches, pins and shirts). When we decided to design a limited-edition pin collection to coincide with the release of our American Licks flavors, partnering with owners Ted and Kelley Feighan was a no-brainer. Together, we’ve created nine collectable Jeni’s pins.
We caught up with Kelley, the quippy voice behind Valley Cruise’s social media, to talk aspiring artists, pin culture, and why Jeni’s holds a special place in the couple’s heart.
We’ve been big fans of yours for years—discovering your work through artists we follow. Can you talk about these collaborations and how they work?
So we are really an artist-centric brand. Almost all of our product comes out as a collection. We try to make it artist driven. Ted’s our creative director, and he works with artists, asking, “What are the designs they like to produce?” and “What do they want to do to make a pin or patch or shirt?” He gives them free reign on their design, which I think is really awesome. We try to focus on letting the artist do what they like to do.
What makes a good artist collaboration, especially for a pin?
Something unique, bright, colorful. It’s a really simple illustration that’s also very effective. When you’re making an illustration into a pin, is has to be shrunken to an inch in size. It can lose its effect if it’s too complicated. We’re really good at making clear designs, really simple, with impact.
You started with zines to feature artists. How did you make the switch to wearable artwork?
It was really a pretty smooth transition. The zines were artist collaborations. The zine profits are split 50-50 with artists. It’s a way to put their stuff out there, and to make some money off of it. We made our first pin in August 2014, and it was just a very natural transition because we thought we can do this with an artist as another way to showcase their work.
Let’s talk pin culture. Did you have any clue that pins would be so hot?
Not at all. We got very lucky. I always tease Ted—he’s really good at foreseeing those types of things. It was just kind of a luck thing that we got in there at the beginning.
How big is your personal pin collection?
Oh my gosh. I have a bin of them—hundreds.
Do you have a favorite pin you’ve created?
I really love the Jeni’s ones. I know that’s a funny one to say here, but they really are some of my favorites right now. … I really like the sugar cone pin. I have it on my sweater that I am going to wear today. I have a joke with a friend that if we ever had rapper names mine would be “Two Scoops” because I love ice cream.
Does your love of these pins have anything to do with you and your husband’s longstanding connection to Jeni’s?
Not only are the designs great, but they have a very emotional connection for us. My husband and I used to go to Ohio State, and we spent a lot of time at Jeni’s in college—way more than we should have. When you guys contacted us, it was really exciting.
We’ve known each other since we were little kids. We have so many memories going out on dates to Spagio [a restaurant next to Jeni’s scoop shop in Grandview, Ohio], and then to Jeni’s afterward. We actually went to Jeni’s the night we got engaged.
What’s coming up next at Valley Cruise?
All of our spring products [are out now]. We have some collaborations with Jesse Jacobs. He’s a fun, colorful artist who does these cool faces for us. We also have a patch coming out. It might be my favorite product we’ve ever made. It has really awesome colors and really pops.