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Graduating With Style: Buttons On Beaver Founder Makes Mark On Penn State Fashion

It can be hard to think of an outfit for Penn State football gamedays. If someone doesn’t want Penn State logos plastered all over their outfit, the easy solution is to turn to wearing blue and white. But what if they still want something to show their Penn State pride? That’s where Buttons on Beaver comes in.

Avery Vodar, a fourth-year Penn State student studying supply chain management with a minor in innovation and entrepreneurship, started Buttons on Beaver in September 2022 after searching for buttons downtown for her outfits and not finding any that stood out.

Luckily for Vodar and her friends, she took four years of graphic arts in high school, though she had no expectation of ever using that experience. Even luckier, one of her projects for that class was a button-making campaign. With the skills already in hand, Vodar set out to work.

She ordered her button-maker from Amazon, got an Adobe Illustrator subscription through Penn State, and got crafting. She sold a few designs to her friends for cheap for two weeks before realizing the success she could gain.

Vodar created her Instagram account, gaining a following by spam following Penn State students to simply get her name out there. It worked.

“It really took off at the start of this year, when I did the giveaway of my 2023 season bundle and if you won, you get all the buttons for free. I was told by so many people that it just clogged up their feed,” Vodar said. “I think my favorite was when a boy at the bar found out I was Buttons on Beaver and was like, ‘You are all over my Instagram’ and I was like ‘That is awesome because I’m not even trying to reach you.'”

From that moment, Buttons on Beaver became a frequently mentioned name, from feature articles to Penn State spotlight to a partnership with Doggie’s Pub.

Doggie’s reached out to Vodar in August 2023 during syllabus week, contacting her for a custom order. Through the partnership, Vodar made Doggie’s 100 custom buttons for every Penn State football home game for the workers to wear during their shifts.

Since the jump in followers and publicity, Buttons on Beaver has been on pop-ups on campus, partnering with brands like the Undrground Collective and Nittany Thrifts. Vodar was making around 100 to 150 orders a week aside from Doggie’s, forcing her to quickly sharpen her time management skills.

Despite football season being the best boom for business, Vodar’s customs orders are a hit in the spring semesters. The buttons made it to THON in the last two years, with around 600 made for THON 2024, with customers ranging from IDCs to committees to organizations. Even if they didn’t wear them at THON, organizations coordinated fundraisers too.

Vodar’s even made buttons for sorority recruitment and senior send-offs. From bar crawls to parents’ weekends to birthdays, Vodar has made buttons for everything.

Most recently, Vodar brought Buttons on Beaver to the Happy Valley Launchbox through the Fast Track Accelerator Program.

The program includes a 10-week long program for new businesses in State College to help them grow and start running in that time. In the end, the businesses got to pitch to win funding for their performance over the 10 weeks, which Vodar received. Vodar’s main focus through the time was how to transition Buttons on Beaver into post-grad when she can no longer sit at Starbucks for hours to hand out orders.

Instead of using a Google Form and Venmo, Buttons on Beaver will now have its own website and orders will be shipped directly to customers. This change will make it easier to connect with Penn Staters all over the country and through all generations.

While it will be a transition with having a full-time job soon, Vodar will keep the core of Buttons on Beaver in tact. She still has much more to do with Penn State before attempting to branch out. But ideally a year and a half down the road, she would love to expand to other schools so more students can experience the elevating buttons.

For now, Vodar has had to attain her resell license and factor in shipping and taxes as the business will move out of Happy Valley. She will be working with a women-owned button-making company in Arizona to mass-produce her buttons while Vodar still designs them all herself.

When people bought buttons for the Peach Bowl who weren’t even going but simply wanted to remember the event, it gave Vodar a new idea for next season.

“I’m going to get more into word buttons, like people really like the game-specific buttons and I’m trying to date the buttons a lot more. Obviously, if you want to re-wear them you can, but it also makes it more of a collector’s piece,” Vodar said. “People told me they collect them and I was like ‘Wait, that’s crazy. I never expected that to happen.'”

“I feel like I’ll still have some generic designs, overall Penn State football for any game, but I’m also going to try and do almost every football game with a specific thing on it,” she continued.

Although there are buttons downtown and even other button businesses popping up, Vodar still believed nothing can compare to Buttons on Beaver.

“If you see me out and about on gameday, a lot of times I’m passing out buttons to random people with my Instagram on the back, just like extra inventory and to try to get my name out there. I usually target people that are wearing buttons from downtown and I’m like, ‘I see you wearing a button, but this one’s better, follow me.'”

“There’s been a few other buttons I’ve seen pop up,” Vodar continued. “I still feel like my designs are always so much more unique. Just because I am making them all by hand, I’m not using Canva and collaging stuff together.”

Vodar and the new Buttons on Beaver website will continue to work and grow even when done studying at Penn State with Penn State buttons available year-round and special ones for each football game next season.

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About the Author

Ashley Connington

Ashley is a sophomore studying journalism from New Jersey. She is not okay about Saquon leaving the Giants and was crying on her couch all day. She can't look at all of her Saquon merch and doesn't know when she will recover. You can email [email protected] to send her ways to meet Saquon or watch her obsess over Chelsea FC on twitter @ashconnington.

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