This NYC Startup is the Queen of Temporary Tattoos



The permanency associated with getting a tattoo is often a stressful decision. Will I l like it when I get older? What will look like in a professional environment? Will it match with my wardrobe?  These are some of the thoughts that race through your mind when considering this lasting decision.   Luckily, TribeTats is making the decision much more simple. It’s a premium temporary tattoo offering that crafts a beautiful tattoo that looks like jewelry on your body.   It can also be customized for any occasion and already counts Facebook and Hulu as happy clients.

AlleyWatch chatted with founder and CEO Degelis Tufts about the future of tattoos and what makes their offering unique.

Tell us about the product or service.

TribeTats creates premium metallic temporary tattoos in gold, silver and rose gold that look like real jewelry on your skin. We also customize our product for events, parties, resellers or as a cooler version of corporate swag, and have worked with major brands such as Facebook, Hulu, Waze, Garnier, Elite Daily and Health Ade Kombucha – in addition to Universities, high schools and summer camps.

How is it different?

Customers are using this product category on the go (music festivals, parties or the beach) and don’t have scissors on them, so we perforate all of our sheets for easy separation. It sounds silly but has been called a “game changer” by our users. We also realized customers were having trouble removing them or found baby oil to be too messy, so we created metallic tattoo remover pads that easily take them off without scrubbing or irritating the skin. Finally, we can create 100% customized product.

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

The $20B promotional products industry. 32% of that market is wearables, so we’re urging companies to make something more creative than just a company t-shirt. We’re making corporate swag cool again.

What is the business model?

New custom clients find us via Google Adwords, through our network of sales reps and via customer referrals. We work with each client 1×1 on the mockup and design to help them create their perfect personalized end product – a level of service that’s difficult to find elsewhere.

We also sell our in-stock product online via our Shopify store (mostly driven by Instagram), on Amazon and wholesale to a network of 60 stores and yoga studios.

What inspired the business?

I love the idea of jewelry you can wear anywhere on your body sans gravity constraints and they are fun and make people happy!

Tell us about the decision to expand into apparel.

I have a friend who owns an apparel brand, Speñglish, with a similar vibe and audience. They make really high quality pima cotton shirts, so we decided to collaborate on tanks with metallic gold designs resembling our tattoos.

Degelis Tufts

Degelis Tufts (middle) and Team pictured sporting TribeTats

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?

To get the word out about our custom business, and further develop acquisition channels and distribution relationships. I know that brands want this product and our customers are happy & reordering, so now it needs to be scaled. I also want to hire someone to help me manage that growth.

What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?

In a product business, always buy the minimum order quantity when you’re starting out and test test test before ordering more. I bought in heavy to start because my factory offered me volume discounts, and then there were a few SKUs that killed it and a few that nobody bought. I could have saved a lot of money by starting smaller and discontinuing the designs that didn’t hit.

If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?

I saw Susan Lyne from Built By Girls speak on a panel and I just loved her. I have a background in investing (in a past life before startups) and what she’s doing with BBG is my dream Stage 3 or 4 of my career.

Why did you launch in New York?

To me, this is the best city in the world and one where I thrive professionally.

Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?

Happy hour has not been in my vocabulary for a while, I try to hit up yoga after work when I can! But I usually work from Soho House and love having a few friends for a glass of wine on the rooftop at sunset in the summer – that is probably my favorite.


About the author: AlleyWatch

AlleyWatch is the destination for startup news; opinions and reviews; investment and product information; events reported, experienced, seen, heard and overheard here in New York. But it’s who we are that makes us different: we’re the writers and the entrepreneurs; the investors and the mentors; the lawyers and the marketers; the realtors and the recruiters – the people who work in the industry.

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