Founder and CEO Tina Roth Eisenberg told me that she was inspired to create the company when her daughter returned home with temporary tattoos that Eisenberg described as “hideous” and “a complete insult to my Swiss aesthetic.” Given her background as a graphic designer (she still has her own design blog), Eisenberg decided to do something about it, launching a new website with work from her artist and designer friends.
Three years later, the company not only licenses tattoo designs from a number of artists, it also works with businesses and marketers to create custom designs. For example, Head of Partnerships Yng-Ru Chen talked about working with Warner Bros. to create a temporary tattoo to promote the film If I Stay.
“We’re more than just temporary tattoos — we’re really kind of a lifestyle brand,” she said.
The Tattly website describes its product as “designy temporary tattoos,” which might sound a little, uh, Brooklyn-y, but the tattoos cover a broad range of styles and depict everything from dinosaurs to subway lines to inspirational mottos. (In the video, I’m wearing a ship tattoo created by Wendy MacNaughton — who, incidentally, has also created an illustration based on my permanent tattoo.)
As competitors follow Tattly’s lead, Chen said the startup will stay ahead by continuing to focus on “really great design.” And according to Eisenberg, that means relying on a highly curated model rather than just throwing the doors open to anyone who wants to sell a design.
“I think there’s something to be said for having the team at Tattly, or a few people, just really defining the tone of a brand and sort of the easthetic of a brand,” she said. “While a lot of people have been suggesting we should take on the Threadless model, I personally want to stay away from that.”
And even though I said Tattly is a Dumbo-based company, it’s actually about to move to Boerum Hill; Eisenberg said their current building is being converted into condos.
“It’s all good, because I have slowly but surely realized that it’s time to move on,” she added. “Dumbo is becoming very … luxury residential, which is kind of not the vibe I want to be surrounded with. Which breaks my heart a bit, because Dumbo started out all creative and all artsy.”