Our team had such a blast at the Seattle Tattoo Expo a couple of weeks ago. We went with Shadow and Saga, both from our Pro Team, and we were set up next to the Fusion Ink booth with another Pro Team member Vic Back. A huge congratulations to Saga for winning Best of Show. Here are a few pictures from the event.
Unfortunately it's come to our attention that the owner of SecondSkin Distribuidor Mexico, Abraham Villegas Montelongo, has been making racist and misogynistic comments and threats. Some of these have come directly from his company's Facebook page, including referring to women as "malcogidas" and "estúpida India." "Malcogida" is an expression that means a woman who needs someone to "fuck them good" so that they stop being angry or frustrated. And "estúpdia India" is a racist term referring to the indigenous populations of Mexico, namely Mayans and Aztecs. Personally, and as a company, this is the type of hate speech that we find intolerable and want to rally against. We have cut ties with him immediately, and urge his customers to stop supporting him.
While he was never employed by us, and was an independent supplier, we understand it reflects poorly on us as well. We've worked hard to build a reputation as a company that supports and provides a safe space for under-represented groups within tattooing. Namely people of color, female, trans, and queer artists. We want to continue to do that, and use our platform to call out and hold responsible this type of behavior within our industry and community.
Lamentablemente, se nos ha informado que el propietario de SecondSkin Distribuidor México, Abraham Villegas Montelongo, ha estado haciendo comentarios racistas y misóginos además de amenazas en contra de tatuadores y clientes. Algunos de estos comentarios han venido directamente de la página de Facebook de su compañía, incluyendo referencias a mujeres como "malcogidas" “puta obesa” y "estúpida india". Personalmente, y como compañía, este es un tipo de discurso de odio que consideramos intolerable y contra el cual queremos deslindarnos. Hemos cortado lazos con él de inmediato, e instamos a sus clientes a dejar de apoyarlo.
Si bien nunca fue empleado de nosotros, y fue un proveedor independiente, entendemos que también refleja una mala imagen de nuestro nombre. Hemos trabajado arduamente para construir una reputación como una compañía que brinda apoyo y proporciona un espacio seguro para los grupos subrepresentados dentro del tatuaje. Es decir, personas de color, mujeres, artistas trans y queer. Queremos seguir haciéndolo y utilizar nuestra plataforma para llamar y responsabilizar a este tipo de comportamiento dentro de nuestra industria y comunidad.
While I started prepping in 2015, SecondSkin’s official launch and first sale came on January 4th. It's been almost exactly a year to the day, and I can't believe how far we've come. Starting SecondSkin, I expected it to be only a part-time, regional thing. I didn't plan on advertising, and I was going to let most of my customers come to me via referrals from the artists I already knew. I remember after about a month, a tattoo artist asked me if I planned on putting out a cream. My response was, "Fuck no, that market is so saturated."
But I have a hard time doing things half-assed. March was a big month for SecondSkin. In March I did my first tattoo convention: Vic invited me last-minute to join his booth at Musink. I was completely unprepared, but it showed me exactly what I needed to do for future shows. I met some great people there, some that became customers, and one that became my second sponsored artist, Shadow. If you're not familiar with him, you should obviously go follow his Instagram, but following him on snapchat (@shadowink) really allowed me to feel like I knew him. This dude is one of the most positive and motivating people I have ever met. Since then we've had the chance to do the Texas Showdown convention together and have talked often.
At Musink I also tried what would eventually become our tattoo cream. Danielle De Niro Hayes, the owner of Herbal Elixirs, has been studying to be a master herbalist and has worked in the natural retail business as a supplement specialist for over 12 years. Her husband is a tattoo artist at Vic's shop, 27 Tattoo. She had been working on this tattoo cream for over a year when I picked up a sample. I used it to help heal my tattoos after removing SecondSkin and loved it, so I met with Danielle to figure out a way that we could work together. Originally I was thinking that we could do conventions together or maybe try to get into the same shops, but we decided it made sense for her to start making the cream for me. I was able to help her buy in bulk, which got the cost down. Then we went through the organic and vegan certification processes, which, believe me, were PROCESSES. It's no wonder there are only a few creams certified USDA organic. As far as I can tell, ours is the only one certified both vegan AND organic, which I'm very proud of. I truly believe we have one of the best tattoo creams in the country.
In March I also attracted an investor. That has allowed me to quit my other job, add the tattoo cream to our line, and travel to conventions. We did the Seattle convention in August, the Texas Showdown festival in September, and the Puerto Rico convention in December. We already have two scheduled through the first two months of the year. You can view the details of those shows at our conventions page. On top of that, I've spent a lot of time driving to Las Vegas and up and down the West Coast from San Diego to Seattle to meet new and existing customers.
I have many people to thank for making SecondSkin so successful so quickly. Vic Back for putting the idea into my head and really help me kick things off. My girlfriend Jenn for the courage she gave me, the initial loan (which allowed me to purchase the initial 500 rolls), and all of the continued support she has given me. Seriously, who else would watch my maniac dogs while I was on the road? Allen and Ginger from 5th Ave Tattoo Supply for being my first distributors and giving me a bunch of business advice. Shadow for the motivation and inspiration. Jacob for his support, which allowed me to quit my other job and expand the company. All of the early adopters. Everyone who has used our product, tagged or posted about us on Instagram and Facebook, or told someone else about SecondSkin. I appreciate you all, and I am truly humbled by all of your support and praise for our products.
I'm excited about 2017. We're going to continue growing by adding new products and meeting new artists and collectors from across the country. Thanks again :D
We've been super busy here at SecondSkin headquarters for the past couple of months. With conventions in both Seattle and El Paso we've met some amazing people and made great connections. El Paso was the first time we put out the tattoo cream to a wider audience and the feedback we got was simply amazing. I want to thank everyone who stopped by and picked some up. As well as the rolls! And being able to spend four days with sponsored artist Shadow was so much fun. The guy is so positive and motivating. We'd stay up until the wee hours of the morning (seriously, like 4am one morning and 6am another) and just talk about business and life. As he would put it himself, he's "a wordy motherfucker."
We have a couple of more conventions coming up soon too. Puerto Rico in December will be ridiculous. The talent level there is just off the charts. And I have an appointment with someone I've admired for quite some time. Then in January I'll have a double booth at the Golden State Tattoo Expo. It's bound to be a great time.
Annnnd, most importantly, we finally had the official launch of our tattoo cream! It took waay longer than expected, because we were waiting on the USDA certification. It was very important to us that we had it both certified vegan and certified organic. As far as I can tell it's the first and only one in the country to be certified both. You can expect more big things from us in the future, we're only getting started.
I'm really excited about our new tattoo cream. It's been under development for over a year now, and we've been working closely with a skin care expert, tattoo artists, and collectors alike to fine-tune it. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it's going to be the best tattoo cream on the market and a one-of-a-kind product. It is made with absolutely the best ingredients and has this beautiful whipped butter consistency. It goes on smooth and has great lasting power. We're still waiting on a couple of things, but it should be released within two months. If you'd like a sample when it's available, don't hesitate to contact us!
I’m humbled by all of the talented artists who trust me to provide an aftercare product for their clients’ tattoos. One of my favorite parts about owning SecondSkin is to be able to visit and chat with these artists. I very much like to meet people face-to-face, as I believe that is the best way to grow a relationship. So I decided to make a trip out to California, which seems to be the fastest growing market for me at the moment. Artists Ben Ochoa and Mat Hurtado from Black Anchor Collective were some of the earliest users of SecondSkin in Southern California, and I wanted to meet them in person. Not to mention that the level of work coming out of that shop is super impressive, to say the least.
When I got there, Ben was tattooing and Nikko was working on a design. They were both super gracious and Ben took me on a tour of the shop. Looking at all of the art hanging on the walls put the biggest smile on my face. Then I got to hang around a bit and watch Ben work on a Batman villains sleeve. Nikko was asking me about SecondSkin, and Ben was telling me why he preferred it to other "derma" products. Nikko is a really intense and driven guy, which you can obviously see in his tattooing. Talking to him and their office manager Tom Martinez Jr. (the early talent behind the success of Sullen TV) about business was really helpful, as SecondSkin has only been around since the beginning of this year.
Mat came by the shop, and I asked him if he had any of his lego paintings around. I'm a huge fan of them and was hoping to see some in person. He didn't have any in the shop but ended up taking me by his home studio nearby. Again, I was like a kid in a candy store. I've never been artistic, but I've always really appreciated art. He had a couple of lego paintings hanging around, and his other paintings were just as or even more amazing. Overall it was a fantastic experience. Thanks to the whole crew at Black Anchor Collective!
To the right are a couple of pictures from Matt's home studio, including some of his paintings and collections. Tom Martinez created a video of Mat's process and a time lapse video of one of his paintings. You can watch it at Black Anchor Collective's YouTube Channel.