Support Good People with Your Holiday Shopping

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Every time you buy something, you vote with your wallet.

As someone who has bootstrapped companies and knows just how hard it is to do it right, to fight the good fight and do things the right way, not just for the bottom-line, but actually run a business with a set of values that might make the world a tiny bit better, I know just how incredibly hard it is to make it work. Just like this election has shown, the ruthless ones, the ones that don’t care about anything other than full pockets, are the ones that usually win.

I have bootstrapped Tattly from the beginning and we had some wonderful successes but it is a bumpy road, even 5 years in. I believe in manufacturing whatever I can in the U.S. I believe in selecting my artists carefully and paying them a generous royalty. I believe in shipping everything out of Brooklyn and creating lower wage jobs in the city. I believe in creating a healthy work environment for my employees and offer sane working hours. I could go on! All of these values make it exponentially harder to succeed. Our business model has been copied by people that don’t care about any of these things and that are just in for the money.

All of this has made me realize that I need to be more careful on how I spend my money and who I support and endorse. My purchases have a direct impact. Supporting small matters. Here are are few small companies and individuals that I know, or have been following for a long time, that have a set of values I admire. I want them to succeed with their businesses.

Help me grow this list! What small entrepreneurs or individuals should we be supporting and why? Write suggestions below as a comment with links to their sites. I am actively keeping tab of companies that make the world a little better and will continuously support them, here on my blog and beyond.

Here is my GROWING list of companies I suggest you consider supporting this holiday season:

Sugru – the world needs fixing. The founder Jane is one of my favorite people. Watch her 99u talk and fall in love as well.

Slow Factory – Fashion as a tool for social and environmental change. NASA images printed on 100% natural fabric and eco-friendly dyes and process.

Holstee – a subscription that explores one mindful theme each month through art, words and action.

Various Keytags – get someone a special key chain. The people that run it are special too.

Three Potato Four – Janet Morales and Stu Eli began Three Potato Four through their love of found objects. It’s been a pleasure to watch their labor of love grow into a company.

Pipsticks – Monthly sticker subscription, run by a super kind couple with three kids.

Tinybop – the best educational kids apps out there. SUCH good, smart people that run this company.

Uncommon goods – Dave the founder is remarkable. Read their about page. Then support them.

JAM – online courses for kids. Zach Klein, the founder, is good people.

The Sill – Get some plants into your home and office. Healthy plants by healthy, lovely humans.

American Heirloom – I have one of their cutting boards. It’s my favorite.

Field Notes – the original. I have admired Jim Coudal, the founder, for a long time and he has been instrumental in my decision to let go of clients. He is an entrepreneur with values I admire.

Jen makes beautiful jewelry. And she is a beautiful human.

Rifle Paper – satisfy all of your paper needs. Anna Bond, the illustrator behind the brand, has shaped this industry. She is probably the hardest working human on this planet.

Etsy – a company with fantastic values and a serious moral compass, supporting makers around the world. YES!

Brooklyn Industries – know and admire the founders.

Oliver Jeffers – one of the most talented and hardest working artists I know. Buy a print or look for his picture books next time you’re in a book store.

Brvtvs – a New York based jewelry collection created by Caroline Ventura.

City of Industry – It’s been a pleasure seeing Sara build out her pin business into more than just that. A labor of love I want to see succeed!

Soma – Good people. Good products.

Charity Water – instead of christmas/wedding or birthday gifts fundraise for clean water?

Lumi – I met Jesse Genet, the co-founder recently and was so impressed by her hustle and enthusiasm to improve the world of packaging goods.

Kikkerland – my favorite place to find fun gifts.

ban.do – a destination for slightly silly fun gifts.

Ghostly – it’s easy to get lost in their music or products.

Haptic Lab – stunning products by a remarkable woman.

Poketo – beautiful gifts curated by a beautiful couple.

Paper Jam Press – love these so much.

Hendley – I have never met a person before that makes perfumes. Hans’ love for this industry is beautiful to follow along.

Adam J. K. – one of my favorite places to shop for gifts on the internet.

Ignite Talk by Yours Truly

At a recent un-conference at the Kickstarter HQ a few weeks back I was invited to give an Ignite talk. Here it is! And if you’d like to see the other presenters as well, you can see them all here! Enjoy!

(In case you’re wondering why I am talking so fast and am out of breath at the end. It’s the format of Ignite: Presenters get 20 slides, which automatically advance every 15 seconds. The result is a fast and fun presentation which lasts just 5 minutes.)

Some Helpful Responses In This Thread:

Tips for Human Interactions

Breathe. Exhale. Repeat.

breathe exhale repeat

I have been doing a lot of controlled breathing exercises in the past 48h.

The Nr. 1 Lifehack

Tattly on National TV

Yesterday Yng and I were invited to be on Tamron Hall’s live show over at MSNBC to talk about Tattly. What an incredible experience and honor for our company. I have become a person that talks about temporary tattoos on national tv. Someone please pinch me!

The Invisible Dog | Season 8

The Invisible Dog is my work home. I am lucky to be part of this wonderful community of artists and creators. (My businesses run out of the ‘office space’ side of the building) Every year Lucien, the director of this cultural hub, runs a Kickstarter to help keep the lights on.

In a city where everything is making room for shiny new condo buildings, the Invisible Dog is a refreshing reminder on how important is to create an affordable studio space for artists.

If you, just like me, appreciate what Lucien is doing on Bergen street, help me support his Invisible Dog Kickstarter Campaign!

Know Yourself Cards for Self-Exploration

Know Yourself Cards for Self-Exploration

I recently purchased The Know Yourself Cards for Self-Exploration by The School Of Life and they sure keep me on my toes. I am currently trying to answer one question a night. This one in particular has hit home. I might have to rethink how I prioritize the things that are seemingly important to me.

ViewMaster Job Application

View Master job Application

The bar for the “most creative job application” ever received has been raised. Last week, Ryan Beller dropped off a white box with a beautifully arranged ViewMaster inside. Clicking through it revealed his resume and cover letter. Consider me (and the rest of team Tattly) impressed!

Update: We offered him the job. And, he accepted. So, YAY!

Things I Didn’t Buy

Things I didn't Buy

I recently started keeping a list of “Things I Didn’t Buy“. It’s refreshing to look back at it and realize how much money I saved and how many of these items would have just become “stuff” in a very short time. Marie Kondo-ing my life last year was one of the best things I have done in a long time and it keeps having a positive effect on my life (and finances). If you are not familiar with her book “The life-changing magic of tiding up“, look it up. But be warned, you might start talking to your socks.

Dispatching from the Swiss Mountains

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We had the pleasure to spend this week in the Appenzeller mountains, where I grew up. Luckily we have one more week of fresh-air-vacation ahead of us. Can you believe this view?

Comfort Zone

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I am on a mission to push myself out of my comfort zone more often. Last week that resulted in taking an African Dance Class.

At some point, I want to do what the gentleman is doing above. Boy, that would sure make me uncomfortable.

What do you do to push yourself out of your comfort zone?

Things I Didn’t Buy

I recently started keeping a list of things I didn’t buy. I look back at it often and it fills me with all the good feels. The list reminds me that many of the things I think I NEED TO HAVE would end up very quickly just becoming STUFF. Marie Kondo’s approach, by simply asking “does this bring me joy” has changed the way I look at anything I own. But best of all, my “I didnt’ buy this list” is a great reminder of money I saved.

NOW

NOW watch

For the last two months I have been wearing this “watch” and it has quickly become my favorite accessory. As someone who constantly worries about what’s ahead, it’s been a successful way for me to remind myself to stay in the moment! And, the personal reminder on the back of the watch, which is customizable, reminds me be kind to myself.

So much respect to Micah Davis, the founder of Matters for coming up with this beauty. It’s not only beautiful and useful, but also a huge conversation starter.

Very Serious Poll

For My US Readers:

Business is not just Business

Tattly = 5

Tattly turns 5

Today’s a big day! It’s been exactly 5 years since I announced the birth of Tattly. My team made me look back and share 5 things I’ve learned:

It takes a small village to run a physical product company.
When I started Tattly I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Being a User Interface Designer, I knew nothing about selling physical goods. I assumed that at the most I would end up with a company that I could feed with two pizzas, meaning 6 people max. False. We are currently 12 full-timers and 4 part-time helpers. We could easily hire 4 more folks but have to hold out until our sales allow us to. Tattly is an entirely bootstrapped company and every new hire is a milestone. Just like raising kids, it takes a small village to run a company like Tattly.

Trust breeds magic.
From the beginning days of Tattly I hired young, motivated smart folks, that were as excited as I am about developing a physical product company. None of them had any prior experience. But they had some serious HUSTLE. We all learned as we went along. I trusted them with building Tattly, sometimes with things I probably shouldn’t have trusted them with. But that’s ok, because trust is the biggest compliment of all. Over the past few years, this theory of mine has proven successful: Hire young folks that thrive when asked to figure stuff out, that are motivated and self-driven. Then, simply step out of their way. Let them know you trust them and watch them embrace the challenges and watch them over deliver. Trust breeds magic!

You have to embrace inventory tracking. And sales.
When you sell a physical good you need to know how many you have in stock. At all times. Seems trivial? Well, it took me a few years to finally implement a inventory management system (Netsuite). Best thing we’ve ever done. And, then just this year, I finally embraced selling as an art form. Guess what, your product doesn’t sell itself. You have to tell people about it. I had to learn that you can do see in really elegant, tasteful and fun ways.

The extra layer of love gives the product soul.
At Tattly we try to sprinkle a possibility of a smile into everything we do. How? If you subscribe to our newsletter, you might have noticed our love for puns! Ever ordered something online? Then you might have come across the messenger pigeon coordinates on our invoice! Did you ever stumble upon our Error 404 page? You should! Or my favorite: A few years ago, when we launched an invisible Tattly on April Fools day, designed by Mario The Magician. Just thinking about it still makes me laugh! I believe that these little possibilities of a chuckle are what give our brand soul.

Never underestimate the power of confetti.
I firmly believe that every business needs a confetti drawer. When you order on Tattly.com you have the option to add confetti during the check-out process. And sometimes we randomly add some to orders, because we think the customers would appreciate it. But don’t worry, when we do add confetti, we do it respectfully, and include a “CAUTION CONFETTI INSIDE” sticker on the package. Because, you know, messy.

Team Tattly

I am excited to be celebrating this 5 year milestone with my team. They are a fantastic, fun, hardworking group. Let me raise my confetti canon and say: Happy our Tattly birthday to you!

If you have followed my blog for a while, you might know that we have a birthday tradition at Tattly: We celebrate our birthday by giving our customers 50% off. Use discount code TATTLYTURNS5 for 50% off your order, this week only.* This only happens once a year so be sure to place your order before 11:59pm EDT 7/15/2016.

Blog-iversary! 11 Years Today!

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11 years ago today I started this blog, not knowing it would become the catalyst for so much good in my life. Here’s my first post ever. All the feels. Happy my 11th blog-iversary to you! And, thank you for reading!

Broad Mic Podcast

The lovely Kelly Hoey interviewed me for Broad Mic a few weeks ago. The podcast just went live!

Note to self: Must talk slower!

What Would Happen?

Empowered by MailChimp: Tattly

A few weeks ago I got a call from my friend Mark at MailChimp in which he asked: “What would you say if we made a commercial on Tattly for Viceland TV?” Needless to say, I nearly fell off my chair. Sure enough, a few weeks later, Vice and their huge crew showed up at Tattly HQ and filmed a day straight. And above is the end product, which you can also see here. How cool is MailChimp? For a small bootstrapped company like Tattly, generous PR gestures like this one are a big deal.

MailChimp was part of Tattly from the very beginning. In fact, when I started the project, almost five years ago, I ran out of money and didn’t have the funds to print the first batch of tattoos. Rusty who helped me at the time had the idea to add a sponsored bonus Tattly in every order. We pitched the idea to MailChimp and they said yes, which allowed us to get production going. Interesting fact: MailChimp knows the pain of being a bootstrapped company. They are still, years later, privately held, which I think you can sense when you pay a bit of attention. They are and have been generously supporting creative projects around the world. (I myself fall into this category also with CreativeMornings. MailChimp was our first global partner) I consider them a “angel investor of the creative world” not just with Tattly but with many other conferences, magazines, experimental-creative-you-name-it-proejcts. Their generous support is making a real difference.

Thank you MailChimp. Tattly (and the rest of the creative world) loves and appreciates you.


In this same series, Vice and MailChimp also made one on FLO+THEO, Jane’s Motorcycles and Heatonist. You can see them all here.

Come Work With Me

Work with Tattly

Come work with my team and me at Tattly! We are hiring a Sales Manager.