Winter Garden siblings and Disney pin collectors Alex, Sydney and Julia Hevier are the masterminds behind the newly patented PinFolio.
There aren’t many people who are as invested in Disney pin trading and collecting as the Hevier siblings.
The Winter Garden trio — Alex, 18; Sydney, 16; and Julia, 13 — have an entire bedroom in their house dedicated solely to displaying their treasures. Boards filled with various pins adorn the walls, and a massive jar of pin backings sits on a table in the corner.
It’s the sole lanyard hanging on a wall near the room’s entrance, though, that started it all. The lanyard belonged to their grandmother — affectionately called Baba — who sparked their love for pin trading.
And that love for pins is what eventually led them to create their own company, GoPinPro, through which they sell their newly patented PinFolio pin books.
‘PIN’ THE BEGINNING
Born in upstate New York, the Hevier siblings were introduced to the world of Disney when their Baba took them to Florida for trips to Walt Disney World Resort.
“She bought us a lanyard full of pins, and each time we would come down, she’d buy us more pins to fill our lanyards,” Sydney said. “That’s what started our love for pin trading and collecting. We used to trade around the parks, and we’d always have our pins on our lanyards. After a long day walking around and going on rides, we’d go back to the hotel where we were staying, and we realized we’d lost some of our favorite pins off our lanyards.”
As the trio grew older — and after losing many pins over the years — they knew they needed a better way to trade and store their prized pins. Some traders use cork boards in their pin books, but the Heviers found those would disintegrate or lose their function if they were poked too many times. Pin books sold at Disney always caused what they call “pinjuries,” or pin pokes.
“Disney makes pin books where you open up the pocket and stick your hand in,” Sydney said. “You put the pin in through the material, and you try to put the pin back on blindly through the little pocket. It’s not very efficient or safe.”
After they couldn’t find a suitable solution, the Hevier siblings decided to make their own.
The PinFolios were born five years ago. The Hevier siblings began experimenting with various materials before settling on their design. They came up with an original prototype and handmade their first PinFolios at home.
PinFolios are lightweight and feature special foam inserts with Stick’N’Go technology that eliminate the need for pin backs while trading. Collectors simply push their pins into the foam and don’t need to worry about pin backs or “pinjuries.” There are different models for every type of pin collector.
“I used to sew, and we literally would hot glue stuff together and make them on our kitchen counters,” Sydney said. “Then we’d go around the parks with them, and that’s how we would store our pins. People would stop us all the time and asked where we purchased them from, and we would tell them that we made them. People would always say, ‘You guys need to make these, I really want one!’”
Their mother, Rochelle Hevier, had the idea of putting a PinFolio on eBay to see what happened. It sold the next day.
“We put a little bit more up and those sold, so we were surprised,” Alex Hevier said. “We increased our quantities, and a couple months in, we were doing 100 at a time and then a couple hundred at a time. It was a lot of work hot-gluing, and it was a lot of burnt fingers.”
Soon, they were selling too many PinFolios to continue making them by hand, so the sibling trio attended a trade show in Miami to speak with different manufacturers. Although they were even younger at that time, they found a manufacturer who believed in their product. They’ve worked together ever since.
“It’s a lot of work,” their father, RJ Hevier, said. “They had a great idea, and like they said, they didn’t set out to try to sell PinFolios. They wanted to do something that was better than what was out there.”
After perfecting their PinFolio products — of which they’ve sold more than 50,000 units worldwide — the Hevier siblings decided to go after a patent for their new product three years ago. And because they’re homeschooled, their parents thought it would be a great learning experience.
“We felt like going through this process of getting a patent was going to be a learning experience for everybody,” RJ Hevier said. “That’s why we wrote it ourselves to begin with. … Going through that whole process, we figured the kids would learn something, and it’ll be educational.”
The Heviers quickly learned just how long and arduous the process of obtaining a patent could be. It required specific language, interviews and work on their part. Luckily, they ended up finding a patent attorney whose own daughter had purchased a PinFolio.
“All of them had to do interviews with the patent attorney,” Rochelle Heveir said. “It was a pretty intense process. They go through a rigorous process with a lot of questions, and they have to be able to think on their feet and defend their (intellectual property).”
The process took a few years, but Alex Hevier said they were notified in December the patent was approved. They received it a couple of months later, and it now sits in a shadowbox in their pin room.
Not only do they now hold a patent for their product, but they also have registered trademarks for their Stick’N’Go technology, GoPinPro and PinFolio. The siblings have been featured on a Fox Business segment with the original shark from “Shark Tank,” Kevin Harrington, who now serves as their business mentor. Even the guest relations locations at Magic Kingdom use PinFolios at their front desks for pin trading.
Most recently, the Heviers partnered with Knott’s Berry Farm in California, which now carries their PinFolios.
“In January, they reached out to us and said, ‘Some of your customers come to our parks and are like, you need to carry PinFolios, you need this in your stores, and I want to buy these from you guys,’” Julia said.
However, the trio agrees that one of the best parts of running their business is when they receive nice reviews from happy customers. The PinFolios make it easy for pin collectors of any age and ability to safely and securely collect and trade pins. In fact, they’ve had many customers with special needs or those who have trouble with fine-motor skills who have thanked them for providing a better way to trade pins.
“To us, we’re just making pin books, but to so many people on our reviews and stuff, people say that we’ve made the world a better place,” Sydney said. “Because of our products, they can pin trade again because some of them don’t have the fine-motor skills to put the pins on the lanyards or in the books, and so our PinFolios make it a little bit easier for them. We always find it so nice when we get these stories in our reviews.”
“They know what works and what doesn’t work, they know the needs of the pin traders … and they really put a lot of thought and effort into it,” Rochelle Hevier said. “We’re very proud of their perseverance because a lot of kids wouldn’t have the ability to stick to it.”