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Posted on Dec 22, 2020

A Message From Our Founders

What a year it's been.

2020’s timeline reads like a dystopian sci-fi novel, replete with crises cascading one after another. It’s as if Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, and Michael Crichton put their minds together to write a by-the-numbers apocalypse story that feels too over-the-top to be real. I’m a huge fan of dystopian sci-fi, but not this one. 

We endured a global pandemic that has so far claimed the lives of 15,000 Canadians and more Americans than all of WW2 (~300,000). We felt the history of racial injustice rear its head in the form of police brutality and disproportionate numbers of COVID-19 deaths in Black and Latinx communities. We witnessed wealth disparity render one in five American families food scarce; watched the snowballing climate crisis scorch an area in Australia the size of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island combined; and waited anxiously as rising anti-intellectualism and a fragmented media landscape nearly crippled democracy in the country that has long preached its unassailable virtue. Oh, and Kobe died. 

My brother and I believe that a brand is the sum of the people who work there. Times filled with such strife, uncertainty, and mistrust expose people's true character, and as such, also expose a brand’s.

At Inkbox, we hope we showed the world that the sum of our character is thoughtful, caring, and passionate. We showed the world that we could live up to our core company values of thinking beyond ourselves, striving to be better than yesterday, and being real. We ensured these traits weren’t just performative platitudes. We manifested them into action.


Responding to COVID-19

We manufactured and donated 10,000 medical grade face shields to a local school board so their teachers could feel comfortable simply doing their job. One of the teachers sent us the sweetest thank-you email that we’ll never forget. We also donated 100,000 medical grade nitrile gloves to The Hospital for Sick Children—an organization we’ve worked with before and that’s dear to our hearts.

When the pandemic closed tattoo shops around the world, wrenching away the livelihoods of thousands of artists, we launched our Support Tattoo Artists campaign to help them earn extra income. Over the past six months of the program, 106 tattoo artists have earned $55,060. Artists of all mediums were affected, too, and we’re happy to say that we enabled them to earn over $1 million collectively this year through our Artist Community.


Fighting racial injustice

We've always thought of ourselves as an inclusive brand, but the cultural flashpoints prompted by the egregious deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Auhmaud Arbery, and others stirred us into taking a stern look in the mirror. The reflection revealed to us that not being racist isn't good enough—that silence is tacit agreement. To be anti-racist we have to affect policy.

As a result, we instituted mandatory anti-racism training across our organization, codified an internal mandate to hire more senior leaders of color, read books on anti-racism and Indigenous rights in our book club, and launched our Fuck Racism collection, which has raised over $40,000 for 12 separate, but equally important, anti-racism charities.


Combatting the climate crisis

We took our first big strides in limiting our environmental footprint—part of our goal to be as waste free as possible. We saved 223,000 packages from post-consumer waste by making sustainable packaging the default option for our customers at checkout. We diverted five metric tons of post-industrial waste from landfills via our Terracycle partnership. We ensured that our commitment to sustainability was also represented in our brand by only using thrifted clothing for our photo shoots. 


So, what’s next?

Now that vaccines are here (shout out to all the incredible scientists who made this possible), the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is nigh. But this doesn’t mean we’re going back to normal; that the world will magically be better. The pandemic exposed deeply institutionalized injustices and inequities that must be rooted out. The more entrenched a policy, a thought, or a structure is, the harder it becomes to change. That’s why we need to work even harder in 2021 to ensure that, as a brand and as an organization, we’re making the world a happier, safer, more equitable, and more sustainable place.

As we did in 2020, we’ll continue to celebrate the voices that need it the most: the marginalized, the underrepresented, and the discriminated. 

We’ll continue to reduce our environmental impact by offering shipping and packaging solutions that are more sustainable. It’s motivating to think that in the near future, Inkbox might be a nearly waste free mode of self-expression.

We believe that ingenuity, hard work, and leadership should be rewarded. We sold more than a million tattoos this year to over 365,000 customers, the profits of which support thousands of independent artists and our talented team at Inkbox. 

We wanted you to know that we’re also working to make our products more affordable. Many are struggling financially right now, and that likely won’t change in 2021. If we have the power to make our tattoos more accessible then we will make it so. We want the greatest number of you to be able to experience the fun, confidence, and general badassery of wearing one of our tattoos. 

We’re happy 2020 is over, but the work isn’t done. So here’s to keeping ourselves accountable, educated, open-minded, and kind in 2021.

With love and gratitude,

Tyler & Braden Handley,

Founders of Inkbox