Meeting my customers
August 9, 2019
The best part of owning and operating Pen Jar Productions, my online store, is creating the product and meeting my customers. Here is my interview with Fernanda van der Laan, proud owner of my Jane Jacobs enamel pin.
This summer my Jane Jacobs pin (circled in blue) entered a special collection of over 300 pins, curated by Fernanda van der Laan. It features a selection of giants in civil rights, music, art, and architecture. Fernanda lives in Washington D.C. and is on staff at Sidwell Friends, the school where her daughter Sophia graduated this past June. Here is my conversation with Fernanda about her collection, and how and why she is using her voice and her pins.
Q: How many pins are in your collection?
A: About 300.
Q: Why did you start collecting, and who was your first pin?
A: I started collecting just before the Women’s March in January 2017. I was looking for something besides your basic t-shirt, something to make astatement in a subtle way that I could wear multiple times. I bought aHillary Clinton pin, and then the collection grew from there.
Q: How do you organize your pins?
A: I organize them bygroup: movies, fine arts, politics, music, architecture, etc. Whenever I go to book launches, protests or concerts, I select a few to wear.
Q: Which figure(s) do you admire the most in your pin collection, and why?
A: For music, it would be Aretha Franklin. From my art collection, it’smy Girl With A Pearl Earring by Vermeer.For politics, it’s Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.
Q: Have you ever met one of your heroes/sheroes?
A: Yes, I have Michelle Obama, Diane Keaton, Malala, and Joe Biden…
Q: How did you first hear about Jane Jacobs?
A: Learning more about architecture.
Q: Have you participated in a Jane’s Walk in your area? (they’re really fun!)
A: No, but would LOVE TO. And I could wear your pin!
Q: How did you find my Jane pin? You know, what key words brought it up? (ahem, this question is for my Digital Strategy students who learned about long-tail keywords and some SEO basics two weeks ago)
A: I put in a search for “architects/architecture pins” and you came up!
Q: Do your friends (female and male) share your commitment to social justice? Who is more vocal?
A: I am lucky enough to live in Washington D.C., so we are constantly surrounded by friends and colleagues who are involved in politics. But I have to say that not all my friends share my passion. The person who is with me in every social/political eventismy 18-year-old daughter, Sophia.
Q: What are your biggest causes right now? And why?
A: I am VERY worried about the right-wing extremists in power here in the US, Brazil, and in some parts of Europe. Everything I care about (gun control, racism, immigration, the environment, etc.) is being affected by crazy policies and people who don’t believe in science, in social justice, in income distribution, etc.
Q: Beyond collecting pins and posting to Instagram and Twitter, how are you trying to move the needle?
A: I sometimes blog to advocate for causes I believe in. I volunteer, donate money, and try to educate myself. And I go to the streets (March for our Lives, Women’s March, etc.). When I travel, I go to “difficult” places, such as concentration camps and plantations. Lots of people don’t understand why I choose to spend time doing these
Q: Where did you grow up?
I was born in Brazil and lived there until I was 20. I am Dutch by marriage and spent 10 years living in Belgium. I havebeen in the US since 2001.
Q: Does the political feel personal to you?
A: Yes. I don’t think we can afford it otherwise. I have no problem with different opinions. But nowadays I just can’t bring myself to tolerate the intolerable.
Q: What is the best thing your mom and dad taught you?
A: Empathy and compassion.
Q: Will women save the world?! (I couldn’t resist!)
A: I have high hopes for my son and daughter and their whole generation! I’m making sure to raisedecent human beings who will hopefully not only do well but do good!