Our Story: A Company with Heart
The Custom Ink story began in 1999 when three former college classmates got the bug to start a business about a year after graduating. Co-founder and CEO Marc Katz was hard at work in a Wall Street job that he says “didn’t have a lot of heart” and was itching to do something entrepreneurial and meaningful.
Meanwhile, Marc’s former college roommate Mike Driscoll was tinkering with the earliest iteration of the customink.com website, which would let people upload graphics onto t-shirts and buy them as special keepsakes. Though Mike was returning to grad school, he had a handful of eager customers, and talked with Marc about launching the “design online” website into a legitimate business.
Marc contacted another former classmate and computer whiz, Dave Christenson. Marc spent long hours on his green couch (a hand-me-down from his big brother) talking to Dave on the phone and planning the business, and figuring out ways to make designing and buying custom t-shirts fun, easy, and reliable. In March 2000, Custom Ink was officially launched with a small team of “Inkers” running the show - all from different backgrounds - but with big hearts.
In 2003, Marc held a company-wide meeting to officially introduce our core values of The Golden Rule, Ownership, and Innovation. Formally stating these values has caused us to think actively about them on a daily basis, and to act in accordance with them. We even hold an annual "Inkademy Awards" ceremony to honor the individuals whose actions best demonstrate each core value. Our commitment to these values is genuine - it's not just jargon or words, but a way of doing business that defines our company.
We could tell business was expanding by the way we kept outgrowing our office space year after year. As it turns out, others noticed as well: In November 2005, Inc. Magazine released its annual Inc. 500 ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the country, and we debuted at No. 55.
Today, the Custom Ink team has evolved into a committed, effective organization and grown more than 100-fold. Our product catalog has grown, too. Not only do we offer hundreds of t-shirt styles and colors, but customers can now get customized towels, hats, bumper stickers, holiday ornaments, drinkware, promotional products, and more.
And we’re continually expanding our services in response to customer requests. We offer different printing methods and embroidery options based on our customers’ design and ordering needs. We also provide free expert art assistance, assisted design templates, and a thorough proofing process to ensure that each custom design – whether printed on one t-shirt or thousands – turns out perfectly!
What sets us apart? It’s our commitment to helping our customers express what brings them together. We’re not about just ordering custom products, we truly believe custom apparel can ignite a sense of belonging and connection.
Our Community of Brands
We believe in the power and importance of community. That’s what we have always been about - even before we knew it - and it’s why our brands offer innovative ways to help activate and strengthen communities.
Custom Ink enables people to design and order custom t-shirts and gear for their clubs, companies, charities, family reunions, and more. Through the Custom Ink Fundraising tool, people can sell custom t-shirts to help individuals and organizations raise money and awareness.
Represent is a social merchandising and marketing platform that helps influencers like actors, athletes, musicians and thought leaders create and sell limited-run t-shirts and merchandise to their fans and followers.