Francis Almeda Says Chicago is Real and Genuine
Written by Vocalo Radio on November 8, 2019
Francis Almeda is an art director and designer currently freelancing for Google.
Francis owns the local business “Reppin Pins,” a company that makes enamel pins to help you represent what you love and are passionate about. Francis is also a digital media professor at DePaul University.
We sat down with Francis to talk Filipino culture, Albany Park, and what Bill Murray has in common with Michael Jordan …
Where in Chicago did you grow up? Where do you live now?
I was born and raised in the neighborhood of Lincoln Square. I’ve moved all around the city but currently my wife and I live in Albany Park, which is, in my opinion, the most diverse neighborhood in Chicago. You have everything from a Filipino spot to a Swedish bakery to a Korean wing spot and a Popeye’s next door. I love the variety and diversity of Albany Park. We’re going to be there for a while.
What do you love about Chicago?
Chicago has always felt like home to me. There’s this feeling of home that I couldn’t get from anywhere else, from the people, to the neighborhoods, to the food. I think we have everything that a big city has, but the people are nicer. Chicago feels real and genuine. The people here are very down to earth, no matter what status you are, and I hope that never changes.
Tell us about your business Reppin Pins?
My wife and I founded the company “Reppin” in 2016. We make enamel pins that represent things that you love. I think the inspiration was to launch a side business on my own and call it my own. And the small business has turned into something bigger than I ever really expected. I like that something so small can really represent something big about you. My friends and family have always worn pins all over their jackets and backpacks. Being a graphic designer, I knew I could design that pretty quickly. I started off with three donuts and now we have over 125 designs. The pins are just a nice little thing that you can wear to express yourself in a really simple way. “Reppin” is sold all over the city, throughout the US, and in little pockets around the world, which is great. Not only do we make our own pins but we make pins for artists, brands and organizations to bring them awareness as well.
Some favorite pins of mine include a lot of the food ones. I’m a big pizza fan, so I got a deep dish pizza pin. We also have little nod to Bill Murray where he’s doing a little Jordan pose, and we call that the Air Murray. And we have everything from Chicago flags to Pride flags to some pins that represent the Filipino crowd because I really want to give a voice to the Filipino community here in Chicago. We have a Filipino star, Filipino flag and some food that represents the culture.
At the end of the day, what would you like to give back to Chicago?
I worked at different ad agencies, design firms, tech firms, animation houses for over 15 years and Chicago has really opened the doors for me as far as being a creative professional. I give back by just sharing my experience and knowledge with those who want a professional creative career. I do that by teaching at DePaul University, which is actually where I went to school, as well as helping those around me. I’m blessed with a lot of people, like my friends and family, who are very talented and creative. Whenever they need help, I make time to give it to them.
Listen to the full interview here:
Visit Reppin’s website
Interview edited for length and clarity by Olivia Cerza
Audio produced by Fyodor Sakhnovski