We decided to ask the owners of InkAddict to talk to us and tell us more about the brand. Jim Doyon and Nathan Martin have owned and operated InkAddict clothing since 2008. It was originally started as a brand that would let you wear your tattoo on a shirt, but quickly expanded to a lifestyle brand for everyone who likes tattoos.
Today, they are about to launch the next step in their venture and are planning on opening their first retail store in Michigan in the near future. With 35 tattoo conventions under their belts and an ever growing fan base, they are ready to expand the company and see where it goes from there. Despite having a worldwide following, they are a Michigan based company that is currently operated out of Sterling Heights. They are even sponsoring the next Wilson tour, “The Come Hungry Tour”, which will feature a chicken wing eating contest at the end of every show.
Please read ahead and learn more about InkAddict and the two charming men behind the cool clothes. After reading this interview I think you will be even more proud to rock a little InkAddict swag.
HipInDetroit- When and why did you start InkAddict?
Nathan- "We started InkAddict in 2008 with the concept of allowing an individual to put their tattoo on a t-shirt. Our company slogan was Wear Your Skin when we originally started. Once we found out that I was the only one interested in putting my tattoo on a t-shirt the company evolved into a tattoo lifestyle brand."
HipInDetroit- Was it just a t-shirt line a first? What was the next thing you expanded into?
Nathan- "In the beginning InkAddict was just a t-shirt company but quickly expanded into hats, tank tops and some different accessories. Over the next year we will be doing swimsuits, shorts, button ups and many more things in the apparel industry."
HipInDetroit- Where are all of your shirts made? Are they manufactured in Michigan?
Nathan- "I wish we had the opportunity to manufacturer all of our products in Michigan, but that's just not realistic. We are actually really excited that we found a local company to manufacture our socks and even had them put Michigan Made on them. It was important for people to know that if we say something is Michigan Made that it actually is."
HipInDetroit- Even though you sell internationally would you consider yourself a Michigan company?
Nathan- "We sell our product all over the world and do a pretty good amount of our overall sales overseas. We are absolutely a Michigan company and try to rep that as much as possible. We have a few designs that represent Michigan and we let people all the time know where we are from when we travel. So many of the lifestyle apparel brands are either based out of the east or west coast and we are trying to make a name for ourselves in the good ol Midwest."
HipInDetroit- What do tattoos mean to you? How many tattoos do you have? Do you have any you regrets?
Nathan- "Every tattoo that I have has meaning to me in some way or another. Most of my tattoos either have to do with family or the idea of good vs evil. It is a simple reminder of the people that are most important to me in my life and that I know the right thing to do even though it isn't always the easiest. I think at this point you stop counting on how many tattoos you have and are just trying to connect them all to make one big one. haha. Of course, I'm not sure I have met too many people that don't regret at least one of their tattoos but that's just part of the process. As I travel more and am surrounded by these incredible artists you really get to see some amazing artwork on people."
Jim- "Tattoos are one of my favorite art mediums and for me, a way of self expression. The majority of my tattoos resemble the people in my life or touch on something that played a part in my youth. They are a key reminder of where I came from and why I am who I am. I have a few recent ones that I got from some of my buddies in the industry that are more just about the art than the meaning behind them. I don't regret any of my tattoos, I just wished I would have planned out the placement of a few of them better."
HipInDetroit- Where can someone find your clothing? Is it only online or do you have any retailers that carry it?
Nathan- "We have our website that we sell on and have retailers all over the world that sell our brand."
Jim- "This is an exciting time for us. As Nathan mentioned, you can find our product online or at a lot of local and national tattoo studios, niche boutiques and retailers. We are really stoked to announce that soon we will be opening a retail storefront in Metro Detroit."
HipInDetroit- What is the message of InkAddict?
Nathan- "InkAddict is a tattoo lifestyle brand that caters to people that love tattoos and the culture surrounding the industry. We want to offer our customers something more than just huge all over prints but something with simple designs that allow an individual to express themselves without being obnoxious."
HipInDetroit- When did you become involved with tattoo conventions? Why do you like to do them? How many have you done?
Nathan- "That is all Jim right there, he mentioned to me years ago that we need to start doing them and I wanted nothing to do with conventions. I'm not the type of person to stand behind a table and try to sell my product, Jim on the other hand is a beast. Conventions are one of the best business decisions that we have done. It puts you right in front of your customers, they see who you are and you get a chance to ask them what they like and don't like, that type of information is invaluable. It's funny now that we have done over 35 in the past two years, we recognize the same customers that come by the booth and have even built friendships with some of them. We even get people that come up to us and say one of the reasons why we came to the convention is to pick up some InkAddict Apparel, that is truly an amazing feeling."
Jim- "Our first convention was a couple years ago in Cincinnati and soon we will be traveling out of the country for conventions. As Nathan mentioned, there is nothing better than getting in front of our customers and hearing first hand from them what they think about the product. We have an awesome group of tattoo artists that we have become great friends with through our travels. One of my favorite things about the convention life is being able to get away from the daily grind and enjoy a beer with my good friends."
HipInDetroit- You sponsor bands and tattoo artists, tell us a little bit about that.
Nathan- "By going to all of these conventions you become friends with some really amazing artists that you want to design a shirt for you and it kind of goes from there. Now we have 15 sponsored artists on our team and consult with the artists before we bring a new one on, it's not just about the artwork but more about the artist."
Jim- "We try and sponsor artists and bands that we have become friends with along the way. There are so many talented individuals and groups out there, but to us it is a lot more than just the talent. We sponsor people we enjoy being around and hanging out with. In the end, sponsorship is all about helping each other."
HipInDetroit- Will you ever have a storefront space that people can come to?
Nathan- "It's funny that you ask that question. I guess you are just going to have to be on the lookout for it, I will tell you that it is going to be on Woodward in Ferndale."
Jim- "We started this company in 2007 from my basement. We used to dream about the day we actually had a storefront that people could not only come purchase products, but come hang out. We have an office in Sterling Heights currently, but it is far from a retail space. With the new retail space, we really look forward to being a big part of the Ferndale community and hosting small events for our artist and musician friends."
HipInDetroit- You are sponsoring a show with Wilson and a chicken wing eating contest, tell us about this. It sounds fun!
Jim- "Oh boy. Since when has something involving Wilson not been fun? They are awesome and we are really stoked to be a part of this tour. There are 8 stops on the tour and at each stop, at the end of the night, there will be a chicken wing eating contest. I can only imagine what kind of craziness is about to go down. I look forward to seeing the video of it and following Wilson on tour. We are happy for these guys. They work their asses off and it is solid to see them being rewarded for it."
HipInDetroit- We have seen many of our friends in your ads and on your business cards. Do you always use "regular people" for your shoots?
Nathan- "Regular people? Have you seen Mike Moore's face... That is no regular face. haha. We try to use people that we feel represent the brand well and some of those people happen to be our Michigan friends. We also work with a ton of people out of state and work with some amazing photographers from all around the country. You would actually be amazed at how many people want to model our stuff and it really is a great feeling. I'm just not into the person that models one time for a t-shirt company with a professional photographer and now they believe that they're a "model"."
HipInDetroit- What are your favorite Michigan bars, bands and restaurants?
Nathan- "As far as I go you can probably find me at The Engine House in Mount Clemens if I'm out. I'm from MC and it is really close to my place and I'm not a fan of the club scene, so I stick to what I know. With the new office in Ferndale I am sure that I will have a few new favorite places soon."
Jim- "My favorite bar is Gusoline Alley in Royal Oak. I don't get out much these days, but I used to spend a lot of time there. As far as restaurants I feel like we are lucky to have so many good restaurants around us. If we have a lunch meeting you can find us at Malone's Tavern in Warren. It is close to the office and they have great food and great hospitality. When my wife and I are lucky enough to get away without the little one for an evening, we really enjoy Ronin, Imperial and Lily's Seafood."
HipInDetroit- Anything else that you want our readers to know about InkAddict?
Nathan- "Just wanted to say thanks for all of the local support over the past couple of years. Much appreciated."
Jim- "Nathan and I answered all the questions for InkAddict in this interview, but really we are just a small piece of the pie. We are so lucky to have had so many people help us along the way. We started as some buddies with an idea in a basement and have grown to a successful company with nearly ten employees. As we grow the InkAddict family grows and we look forward to what the future holds . We are a young company with huge ambitions and are lucky enough to have some of the best employees you could ask for."