Take a look a Sean Hoy and the body art that adorns his arms, legs and torso. If anyone has a vested interest in keeping their tattoos in peak condition, the Southern California entrepreneur, with a wild-eye always focused on turning ideas into a profits, clearly does.
But, wishing there was a product that would keep his tattoos looking cool, and actually taking matters into his own hands to develop a sunscreen that would, was a completely different animal.
INK-EEZE Starts with One Idea
"We were our own guinea pigs," said Hoy, recalling when, back in 2009, he set out to create a tattoo sunscreen and, unbeknownst to him at the time, a lifestyle brand and culture all its own."It was trial by error. We'd sprinkle a little bit of this and then a little bit of that together and by the end of the day, we wound up with a real tattoo product."
And now, at the passing of a few years, INK-EEZE -- the name Hoy created sitting around the kitchen table with his wife and brother -- has become a leading tattoo aftercare product manufacturer recognized by some of the top ink artists around the world.
"We were going to go with 'TATT-EEZE,' " said Hoy, before conceding to the potential for sexual innuendo. "But, we realized no one could make fun of 'INK-EEZE.' "
INK-EEZE Grows the Product Line
Tattoo professionals and their clients, though, are smiling. No more fading. No more inks blending into each other. More activities in the sun. More skateboarding and wake-boarding for people like Hoy who took advantage of a $20,000 credit-card balance to marry a fondness for tattoos with outdoor activities.
INK-EEZE aftercare products come in ointments or lotions and sprays. Ointments contain vitamin A, C, and D combined with Lavender, Licorice, Green Tea and Pomegranate extract to both soothe and moisturize. The lotions and sprays feature vitamins A, C, and E, as well as Soybean, Sunflower, Oat, Licorice, Cucumber, Cranberry, Sweet Almond and Pomegranate extract.
"We produced a daily tattoo moisturizer and a sunscreen that we can be proud of by listening to the tattoo artists. But, we also wanted to create a product experience from start from finish," said Hoy.
So he didn't stop there. When the sunscreens began to take off, Hoy went back to his impressive cadre of tattoo artists and collectors and his high school friend who had some knowledge of chemistry to introduce a numbing cream that would make the tattoo process less painful.
Hoy credits those relationships -- California tattoo artists Franco Vescovi and Carlos Torres have since joined INK-EEZE as partners -- with sustaining the company's momentum. He now is focusing on developing partnerships that will increase the visibility of the INK-EEZE brand beyond his Lake Forest, Calif. headquarters.
A Great Company and a Great Life
"Growth has been epic," said Hoy, a builder of classic cars and stained glass in his youth, who is convinced that a new relationship between INK-EEZE and Monster Steel, will expose his products to more ink industry professionals and increase sales. "I'm not a normal business guy. I'm always thinking 'How can I find solutions to this bad boy.' "
That's probably why, looking ahead years ago, he opted not to get tattoos on his hands and feet for fear that one day his body art would peak out from behind a polo shirt during a golf outing with potential business partners.
Hoy is happy those perceptions about tattoos have since changed -- his mother and father gradually came to acknowledge his business aptitude, if not his acumen for body ink -- and that his appearance is not as shocking. The 37-year-old feels right at home at work in jogging shorts, Nikes and a t-shirt.
"I feel like I'm the luckiest guy in the world," said Hoy.