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Christen Carter

September 12, 2011

Christen Carter

Hey kids, if your parents disapprove of you doing band practice in the pool house, and worry that you’ll come to a bad end, just tell them about Christen Carter and all will be well. After a feminist theory-inspired stint in London garage punk band The Budget Girls, Christen discovered her love for buttons (or “badges” as they call them across the pond). After learning the button trade from artist and DIY badge-maker Mark Pawson, Christen returned to Bloomington, Indiana with an expired visa and a practical know-how about the craft of button-making.

Christen started the “L’il One Inch Button Company in her bedroom in 1995, with Dayton, Ohio indie rockers Guided By Voices as her first customers. A year later, she renamed the company Busy Beaver Button Company, and eventually landed in Chicago, where the business grew to the point where they make millions of buttons for the likes of Patti Smith, Beck, The White Stripes, Lil Wayne, Marc Jacobs, Devo, Missy Elliott, as well as local bands and mom and pop shops.

Christen’s a one-woman DIY success story who embodies the spirit we at 12 Questions admire most! Read on and see what inspires her…

1. What is your hometown?

LeRoy, NY

2. With what fictional character do you most identify?


3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.

Randy Newman or Jessica Rabbit

4. What work of art speaks to your soul?

Al Jaffe! Also, I can’t remember who did this and my internet search isn’t showing me anything, but there was a photograph at the Tate Modern of a path with tall grass around it. The artist created the path by walking it everyday for a year or so. I think about this piece a lot.

5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?

Re-Reading “Just Kids” by Patti Smith now. Also love “Catcher in the Rye” and “Cosmic Banditos”. Favorite business book is “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.

6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?

On my turntable, there is Sandy Bull’s “Bouree.” On my computer, it’s Big Star’s “Thirteen.”

7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?

For some stupid reason, I cried at “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” But I get lost in movies easily and never know what’s going to happen next. I last cried at “The Interrupters.” Shoot, that one deserves a cry way more than the Planet of the Apes one!

8.  Cat person or dog person?

Like them both, but cats fit into my life better.

9. What is more important, truth or kindness?

It seems like you have to be at least somewhat both in order to be either.

10.    How do you define sin?

Something that hurts another person or something really fun.

11.    How do you define virtue?

Doing something good for many people, maybe. That’s without looking it up. And I guess it’s can’t be too righteous in the good-doing, that’s just annoying.

12.   Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?

It would be a tromp l’oeil button made out of stone that says “Who Farted?”

Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

Randy Newman and Roger Rabbit

Busy Beaver Button Company


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