Tom Betti has always had a love of history and shirts with French cuffs. With his new business, he’s married the two− and it’s a match made in heaven, if you ask me.
Launched on Etsy in January, Vote4Cufflinks sells cufflinks Betti fashions from vintage finds− mainly campaign buttons.
Betti is particularly fond of two pairs of cufflinks in his personal collection: one pair made from the outer skin of a Pan Am Boeing 707 jet and one from the White House that the president also wears and gives to special guests.
“I love to tell the story behind them when someone asks,” he said. “So I started thinking how I could make something that was cool, unique and fun to sell on Etsy, and cufflinks came to mind. Why can’t guys have fun with wearing cool things on their sleeves? Campaign buttons and steel pennies were a natural fit and I went with it.”
Betti uses original campaign buttons that he scores on eBay and at antique shops, as well as reproductions.
“For some of my more popular cufflinks, such as I Like Ike, JFK, Truman, and FDR, the vintage campaign buttons can be very expensive and sometimes not in the best condition, so it’s better to have brand new reproduction ones,” he said.
Betti also takes requests.
“I searched around for over a month and found vintage RFK and Goldwater buttons for a special order,” he said.
As noted earlier, Betti also makes cufflinks from steel pennies.
During World War II, the mass production of bombs resulted in a copper shortage, he said. Since copper was needed to make shell casings, the government directed the U.S. Mint to find an alternative metal and in 1943 it minted pennies made of steel.
For those more interested in today’s politicos, Vote4Cufflinks features merchandise inspired by President Obama and Mitt Romney.
“It’s an election year and, no matter who you are voting for, history is happening before our eyes,” Betti said. “Why not support your candidate of choice on your sleeve? Actually, I just sold a few pairs of Romney ones to some guys that are going to the Republican convention in Tampa.
“I also had a special request from a pastor for an order of a single Obama and a single Romney cufflink to wear together and show…uh…I’m not sure what he was trying to show, but I thought it was a cool idea. Non-partisan French cuffs, perhaps?”
Betti is careful to keep his prices low and the product quality high.
“I noticed Brooks Brothers recently started carrying steel penny cufflinks for $95,” he said. “I sell mine for $15.”
He also doesn’t charge a shipping fee.
In the future, the Brunswick, Ohio-native would like to incorporate additional vintage items into his designs.
“Maybe discarded artifacts from historic buildings?” he threw out. “I love aviation, so that’s something I would love to get into as well.”
Those ideas, especially the former, aren’t exactly surprising considering Betti serves on the board of the Columbus Landmarks Foundation and has co-authored a book (with Doreen Uhas Sauer) titled, “Historic Columbus Taverns: The Capital City’s Most Storied Saloons.”
In addition to his Etsy shop, Betti sells locally by appointment. He can be emailed directly at email@example.com.
Columbus Underground readers who use the coupon code VOTE4CUFFLINKS10 will receive 10 percent off their Etsy Vote4Cufflinks purchase.