Bic acquires temporary tattoo startup Inkbox for $65m

By Stephanie Hughes for Financial Post

Iconic French pen-maker Société Bic SA is buying Canadian temporary tattoo startup Inkbox for $65-million in a bid to diversify its consumer product portfolio.

The deal will help Bic, which has long leaned on its classic products, such as ballpoint pens, lighters and razors, cater to younger generations that are more interested in self-expression, but who may not want the commitment of a permanent tattoo.

“You’re not getting married to a tattoo for the rest of your life here, it’s ten to 14 days,” Bic chief executive Gonzalve Bich told the Financial Post.

Inkbox was founded in 2015 in Toronto by brothers Tyler and Braden Handley, and sells semi-permanent tattoos made with plant-based ink that last one to two weeks. Users can choose from a selection of designs online or submit their own custom design, which can be adapted into tattoo form.

Bich said the acquisition would build on Bic’s “human expression” portfolio, which already includes a line of markers that can be used for body art designs lasting one to three days. A series of stencils with NFL team logos had been a success, he added.

The company estimates that the do-it-yourself skin creative market is currently valued at approximate $400 million globally, and is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2031.

“Consumers today crave newness, desire creative freedom and embody authenticity,” Bich said in a release.

Inkbox is known for its partnerships with recognisable pop-culture figures such as the South Korean band BTS and the estate of American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Bich said he planned to pursue more collaborations and also hoped to leverage Inkbox’s strength in e-commerce.

“That’s one of the many, many cool factors of the Inkbox brand,” Bich said. “The collaboration that we did with Korea, the K-Pop band BTS (was) super successful. I want to just multiply that — it’s the beauty of the vertically integrated manufacturing that we have in Inkbox. It’s all made in-house, cut in-house. So really, your imagination is the only limit to your creativity.”

He told the Post that were no plans to shake up Inkbox’s operations or move them out of Canada and that he would give the co-founders a degree of autonomy to carry out their business.

Tyler Handley, Inkbox’s chief executive, said Bic was the right fit.

“Beyond our shared commitment to creative expression, Bic is the ideal partner to help Inkbox achieve its full scale-up potential, notably through accelerated international expansion and operational efficiencies,” he said.

Inkbox raised $10 million in a 2018 financing round and achieved approximately $27 million in net sales in 2021.

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