#NotableYoungPros: Founders of Inkbox Tattoos Tyler and Braden Handley

Toronto-based brothers Tyler and Braden Handley are on a mission to make temporary tattoos cool while creating a company culture built on giving back.

Founded in 2015, inkbox is a tattoo ecosystem that’s all about inking with confidence. Its signature product is a semi-permanent tattoo that can be applied from the comfort of home with no needles required. Under the leadership of founders Tyler and Braden, inkbox has sold 500,000+ tattoos in over 150 countries and has raised $13 million (USD) in equity financing. Underpinning the company is a commitment to supporting initiatives that have a positive impact on communities here at home and around the world.

We are so excited to launch a new video series, #NotableYoungPros. We are a community of movers and shakers. We are inspired by each other’s achievements and crave the story behind them. This series profiles impressive young professionals who are living the #NotableLife. Driven individuals who have incredible stories of passion, persistence, ambition and creativity. We’ll touch on how these Notable pros got their start, proceeded to navigate their careers, talk about key milestone moments in their growth and share their lessons learned and nuggets of wisdom. We had the pleasure to sit down with Tyler and Braden to learn more about their journey from Kickstarter campaigns to reaching 1 million followers on Instagram. #NotableYoungPros 

Take us back to the beginning. Where did the idea for the inkbox tattoo come from?
We wanted the look of a tattoo without the permanence, but the temporary tattoos we got when we were kids just didn’t cut it. We also wanted something that looked authentic and lasted for a considerable amount of time. Beyond this, we wanted to be able to buy any design we could possibly imagine and have it delivered to us.

Giving back is a strong pillar of your brand’s DNA. Share a bit about the initiatives you support and why you believe it’s so important to pay it forward.
One of the core pillars of our company culture is to support others. We do this by supporting a charity in Panama called the Darien Initiative, which helps indigenous tribes in the region adapt to an evolving world through providing agricultural and community support programs, and by being part of the Upside Foundation, through which we donate a percentage of our company’s equity to SickKids (The Hospital for Sick Children).

If you could give your younger selves one piece of advice, what would it be? What do you know now that you wished you knew then?
You don’t have to do everything yourself. Sell a vision and hire the best people. It frees you up to do even more.

What was your most memorable milestone or ‘A-Ha!’ moment?
The time we raised $80k on Kickstarter in a single day with no budget – it’s the moment we knew we had a product people wanted.

Tell us about your most notable professional failure.
We funded a music festival in Las Vegas and it was a complete waste of money with no real ROI. We dropped around $200k on it at a time when we weren’t particularly cash rich.

What are your company’s core values and what attributes do you look for when adding talent to the inkbox team?
Our core values are to support others, be better than yesterday and practise sincerity without bullshit. This translates to a culture that is transparent, honest, kind and driven to always improve. When bringing on new talent, we look for people who have high compete levels but are also humble. We call them quiet overachievers. Nothing is more toxic to company culture than ego. 

Looking forward to the future, what are your long-term goals? Where do you see yourselves in five or 10 years?
We aim to make inkbox tattoos as cool as permanent tattoos in the consumer’s mind, in effect changing consumption behaviours around tattoos.

 As founders of a successful business, what would you say makes a great leader?
Having strong opinions that are held loosely. Being radically grounded in reality while possessing a pie-in-the-sky vision and the drive to push for it. It’s also important to not shy away from tackling uncomfortable problems.

 What does living a ‘Notable Life’ mean to you?
Leveraging success to do good.

 To learn more about the world of inkbox, visit their website.