Tattly = 1 | Things I’ve Learned

Today’s a big day! Tattly, my designy temporary tattoo business, is turning one!

In the past year, we’ve shipped to over 90 countries, had over 15k orders, went from 15 designs a year ago to over 225 today, became best friends with Uline and have bought over 60k postal stamps.

I’d like to take this occasion and share a few things I learned along the way:

1. Never hesitate to challenge a status quo

Temporary tattoos have been around forever. I didn’t invent anything new, but, I was able to put a new spin on it by having professional artists create the designs and making sure that they are produced in the US with the highest quality standards. I admit, I never expected the success we’re having, but now, looking back, it actually makes total sense.

Never hesitate to challenge a status quo of a product or service that already exists. Put your own spin on it, stamp it with your personality and you might redefine an entire industry.

2. Don’t outsource things you care about

In preparation of launching Tattly, we looked into fullfilment centers, thinking that’s not something we should handle ourselves.

But we also knew exactly how we wanted the envelopes to look and feel. It was important to us that a customer would get excited from the minute they spot our envelope in their mailbox. We wanted to make sure that they felt as our tattoos were packaged and shipped with a lot of care.

We picked thick kraft envelopes which we decorate with a custom Tattly address stamp, a nicely designed address label and lots and lots of real stamps.

We realize that putting multiple stamps on an envelope is time consuming and we’d be much more efficient printing a digital stamp. But, let’s be honest, that doesn’t look pretty. Yes, we go the extra mile and it pays off!

Every day we have lots of folks tweeting images of their Tattly envelopes! Tattly is living proof that people appreciate the extra care that goes in. And I don’t think a fully automated fulfillment center would be able to replicate the same feel.

But, of course, on the same token, there are things that I was more than happy to outsource because they are simply not of our expertise. I immediately hired an accountant to make sure sales tax and all that jazz is professionally taken care of and not keeping me up at night. And we made sure we were using a e-commerce platform that helps us run our shop smoothly, in our case, we chose to go with Shopify. And, of course, I got business insurance, right form the start.

3. Don’t be shy. Ask for advice.

Two days after we launched Tattly we got a wholesale catalog inquiry from a very prestigious museum store. It didn’t occur to me that stores might actually reach out to me to sell Tattly. (duh!)

I started reaching to friends that have gone through a smimilar e-commerce experience and asked for advice.

I am incredibly grateful for conversations I had with Raul Gutierrez who helped launch 20×200 and Jim Coudal, force behind Field Notes.

They both were extremely generous in sharing insights, things they’ve learned starting their businesses.

People are open to share and help you get started. Just ask!

4. Grow a thick skin + hustle

My advice to anyone launching a product or service, that is welcomed with a lot of enthusiasm; get ready for copy cats. We have come across a few stores that are trying to copy our idea, one by one. Our response? Hustle! We are and will stay ahead of them.

5. Prepare for success

I admit, I wasn’t prepared for the success. Luckily I was able to scale up very quickly and keep up with demand, which probably comes with the nature of the temporary tattoo business. This might not have been possible if I sold something with a much longer product cycle.

So, ask yourself, what if I get a ton of orders within the first few weeks? Can my business scale? Do I have a plan on how I will do that? Am I building my business on a system that will allow me to grow?

6. Being nice is the only option

This rule applies to every aspect of your business. Employees, vendors, wholesalers and of course, customer support. Be kind, generous and show that you care. You’re just starting out, so you’ll make mistakes. But when you’re kind and generous they’ll forgive you and come back.

7. Your team is everything

This past year, would not have been possible without my truly *amazing* team (pictured below). They are young. They are smart. They are fun and most of all, they are not afraid to work hard. Please meet team Tattly:

From left to right: Mary, Rusty, Julia, Yoko, Bekka, (moi) and Jen.

To celebrate our 1 year birthday, all Tattlys are 50% off from today until end of day sunday. (Our first sale ever!) Just use the discount code “1YEAROLD” during check out.

And, to celebrate we are offering an Everything Pack with 242 designs, a homage to last year’s everything set that held an adorable 15 designs. It comes in a limited edition pouch, with a design by Arianna Orland. There’s only a 100, so grab one before this collector’s item is history!

Happy Tattly Birthday everyone!

Thanks to our fab models Carly, Kevin and Yoko.

40 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Congratulations !! Your success is well deserved :-)
    Have a great day.

  2. Tina, you are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing all of your insight and lessons learned. It is really appreciated!

  3. Woo! Way to go, Tina and crew. Your success — and the ethics behind it — are exemplary.

  4. Happy birthday, Tattly!!

  5. Great post. Happy birthday tattly!

  6. Very inspirational Tina. I always tell your story to my clients. You saw an opportunity and you acted on it. Too many people get in their own way. Love the Can-Do attitude – more people need that!

  7. Happy birthday Tattly! You’ve done a beaut job with it, Tina. Compliments to the Tattly team and good luck.

  8. Happy Birthday to Tattly ;) Keep up the good work and share more posts about your success story! It is very inspiring, love it. Thank you.

  9. happy birthday tattly! just bought a bunch for my nephew’s upcoming 1st birthday.. :)

  10. Happy birthday Tattly!!!!!!!!!! Here’s to many more years of beautiful products!

    I love that you’ve grown such a charming company in such a short period of time. Keep it up!

  11. Congrats to the wonderful team Tattly! It has been so much fun working with you all!! xo

  12. clap-clap-clap…
    Thanks for sharing, enjoy the anniversary!

  13. Awesome Tina! We’re learning alot while operating our ecommerce store as well and we hope we’ll have this much success when we turn one :)

  14. Happy Birthday, Tattly! The first of many. Your team is the best, and I’m so honored to have worked with you guys!!

  15. Yay happy birthday! Thanks for sharing this.

  16. awesome advice, tina!! i’m inspired. congratulations on the tattly baby turning 1. totally shopping for some new summer tats now. :)

  17. Bon anniversaire Tattly! I m planning to start my new business in september so it is really nice to get some advises from a very suceeful business woman! Félicitations!

  18. Happy birthday and thanks for the advice ; ) I’m so inspired now!!!
    I have a an online shop (www.madeinpaper.com) also, and already do some of these, like the stamps and the envelopes, and agree, it totally worth it!
    Many more years of beautifull tatoos!

  19. Thank you for being such an inspiration Tina. Happy birthday Tattly!

  20. Knowing this just made tattly x10 cooler – it has the same birthday as my mom! woohoo! :)

  21. Oh man, that Hustle tattly is awesome! What font is that?

    Also: congrats! :)

  22. I’m so proud of you and the entire tattly team. Congratulations on all of your success. I know that there will be many more birthdays. Thanks for adding some extra beauty to the world. xoxS

  23. Happy Birthday!!

    The things that keep me coming back to buy your tattoos is

    1. They’re fun and your range makes them suitable for everyone. Last Christmas I chose tattoos for everyone invited over to dinner, and I had chosen ones to match each person’s personalities. I was worried that the older people might baulk at the idea but they loved them! They were showing them off to their friends the next day.

    2. They come in some great envelopes and I know that they’re not going to be destroyed in transit to Australia.

    3. I always like to see the range of stamps from the US. My favourite so far have been the Ratatouille ones.

    4. They last long enough to enjoy and you feel you got your money’s worth.

    You guys are doing an awesome job from concept to delivery. You should be really proud of yourselves.

  24. wonderful advice and a super product! i instagramed the envelope!

  25. Congratulations on doing things right! You have shared valuable information for all entrepreneurs to emulate. “What goes around comes around.”

  26. That’s Design to Delight! Glad to see all is going well Tina!

  27. Congratulations and thank you for this great post. Good tidings to all of you, team Tattly. You’re an inspiration. Keep it up.

  28. Thanks for your inspring text. If I ever decide to start something new I’ll remember your story. Hope everything goes well and better!

  29. Great post that we can really relate to as a young company that is challenging the status quo of the school picture industry. If we wrote our 4 year anniversary post (coming up) it would be remarkably similar. We’re redefining an industry and, yes, the copycats are emerging and we’re hustling! My hero thus far in terms of seeking advice is Michael Liebovitz from Big Spaceship. He really helped me focus our efforts and calm down during a stressful time. I’m going to take your advice and seek more advice! You will hear from me soon re: shipping & packaging. I hope you will have the time to respond!


  30. Congrats! Had not realized that Tattly was your creation. Somebody gave me a “late” watch tat. It helped break the ice when I was really late meeting up with a friend of mine. Love what you are doing!

  31. Well done, Tina (and team)! Great to read through the lessons learned, too. Here’s to much more success for you all.

  32. good job Tina:)

  33. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing your experiences

    Wish you a lasting success with Tattly

  34. Not only do I love Tattly, but I *love* the stories behind it.

  35. Hi Tina, I’m considering beta testing an online art gallery using shopify. Wondering if you had success using the SEO tools they provide or if you did other things to drive traffic to your site. Any tips you can share would be most helpful. Thanks so much and kudos to you! Elizabeth

  36. Congrats on what you achieved and best wishes for a continued successful journey

  37. Well done Tina! I had a good read. It is always inspiring to read through what people have learn from their experience. Thanks for sharing :)

  38. Great stories! You have accomplished what a lot of us still dream about… Keep up the great work!

  39. Forever young, I want to be forever young

    Do you really want to live forever

    Forever — and ever