Radical Dreams Pins
They're stylish, they're loud, they're statements. They're unapologetically black and we love them. They're Radical Dreams Pins, a black-owned business that specializes in black inspired lapel pins, patches, buttons, and more.
The accessories are bold, socially conscious, and conversation provoking - and a portion of the proceeds from every product sold is donated to a community organization or initiative, making them total must-haves.
We had the chance to interview the incredible woman behind the brand, Shannon Pringle, age 26, and it turns out she's just as amazing as her products. Read on.
Words by Imani Vaughn-Jones. Photos by Imani Vaughn-Jones and Daniel Sakamoto-Wengel.
Do you run Radical Dreams Pins full time or do you have another job? If so, what?
SP. No. I am currently in medical school full-time. I plan to enter a Family Medicine Residency after graduation. I run Radical Dreams in my free time with the help of family and friends.
Why pins? We've seen a thousand different pro-Black t-shirts and snapbacks, but pins are different. What motivated you to celebrate Blackness through that medium?
SP. That’s a great question! Growing up, I collected trinkets such as lapel pins and keychains. When lapel pins became popular again in 2015, I started to collect them, but I realized there were no pins focused on Black culture or social justice. So, I decided to create them myself! The first products I ever made were the laughing President Obama and Black Lives Matter pins. As a medical student, I knew that I could wear pins on my white coat to express myself in a professional but bold manner. I also knew that this could apply to people all over the country. People can’t wear t-shirts to school or work every day, but they can definitely wear one-inch lapel pins. Lapel pins are small objects that display big messages. I want people to wear these pins to display pride, to advocate, and to start those important conversations.
What was the inspiration behind the name “Radical Dreams Pins?”
SP. "Radical Dreams" is quite literal. When I started this company, I wanted to name it based on my passions and not on what anybody else thought. I have always been passionate about social justice and consider myself a radical in my thoughts and stances. I also consider myself a big dreamer. So, Radical Dreams was born because I have radical dreams of changing this world for the better. And I plan to do that, among other methods, one pin at a time.
You wear your own product, right? Tell me you wear your own product. I mean, they're incredible.
SP. Thank you! Those words mean a lot. And of course I do! I wear a different pin every day, depending on my mood. I also keep them on my backpack, jackets, and white coats. I get compliments, stares, and questions, but that’s why I love them!
What are your future hopes for Radical Dreams Pins, retail-wise?
SP. We have grown so much since we started in 2015, and I am still amazed when I think about it. It’s cliché, but I want Radical Dreams to be a household name. When people think of lapel pins, I want them to think of us. We already have a lot of wholesale accounts, but I would love to be stocked in a big-name department store. I would also love to be stocked or even displayed in the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American Culture and History (NMAAC). Overall, I want to be able to continue to donate to community organizations while also providing for my family.
And what are your hopes for Radical Dreams Pins movement-wise? How would you like to see them impact the Culture?
SP. I want this movement to grow into an international one. Seriously. I want my pins and my messages to spread all over the globe. These pins are my form of resistance, and I want people to feel inspired and empowered to use them for the same reason. My hope is to see my pins on clothes, bags, etc., everywhere I go. I want to see them on beautiful Black people - and anyone else - at concerts, festivals, protests, conferences, schools... Everywhere! I would love to see pins become a common and permanent accessory for us in the same way we wear Dad hats, bags, and jewelry. At the end of the day, I want the pins to continue to be powerful and impactful. I want people to continue to wear them to express themselves and send clear messages to everyone they come across. This movement of Radical Dreamers is going to change the world. I know it.
Let's get to know you a little. Where are you from?
SP. Well, hello! I was raised in Jacksonville, Florida. I went to the University of Florida for undergrad. I am currently in medical school in Tennessee but I plan to go back to Florida after graduation.
What do you like to do outside of business? We know how you work; how do you play?
SP. I love how real these questions are. I don’t really have much free time between school and Radical Dreams. On weekends or school breaks, I like to travel and spend time with classmates, friends, linesisters, and family. I love using social media, especially Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I also love journaling, watching TV and movies, going to concerts, shopping, and napping. I really love the beach. I’m a Florida girl, so that’s something I have definitely missed while living in a landlocked state.
Any hints or sneak peeks for the readers at SDEL on what to be on the lookout for from Radical Dreams soon?
SP. Definitely! We’re working on pins of Jackie Robinson, Ida B. Wells, and Martin Luther King Jr. Finally! We have also been developing more unique and special-edition pins, i.e. moving, spinning, or flipping pins. I really try to put my ideas into action as soon as they hit. We are also open to suggestions, so people can feel free to email or DM us on social media!
Had to ask: Do you have a favorite pin or patch? If so, which one?
SP. Ah! That’s such a tough question, how could you even ask that?! At the moment, I am in love with our Assata Shakur Breakable Chain pin. It represents so much to me, and I made it during a really tough time in my life. I also love our Shirley Chisholm pin and Muhammad Ali patch. I could go on and on, but I won’t take up much more space on the page! Thank you for this dope opportunity though. I wish you all much success with the magazine!
You can browse the rest of the Radical Dreams merchandise, grab a few gifts for your woke friends and family members, and learn what organizations they donate to at radicaldreams.net.
Who else showin' up to the Black Panther premiere rocking a Radical Dreams pin or two?