Iconic pen maker Bic acquires Toronto-based temporary tattoo startup Inkbox for US$65 million

The deal will help Bic meet the needs of younger generations who are more interested in self-expression but may not want the commitment of a permanent tattoo.

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

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

“You’re not going to get married with 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 vegetable-based ink tattoos 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 as a tattoo.

Bich said the acquisition would build on Bic’s “human expression” portfolio, which already includes a range of markers that can be used for one- to three-day body art creations. A series of stencils with NFL team logos have been a hit, he added.

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Today’s consumers crave novelty, yearn for creative freedom and embody authenticity,

Gonzalve Bich

The company estimates that the do-it-yourself skin creation market is currently valued at approximately US$400 million worldwide and is expected to reach US$1.5 billion by 2031.

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

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

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

He told the Post that there were no plans to disrupt Inkbox’s operations or move them out of Canada and that he would give the co-founders some autonomy to carry out their businesses.

Tyler Handley, CEO of Inkbox, said Bic was the right fit.

“Beyond our shared commitment to creative expression, Bic is the ideal partner to help Inkbox achieve its full scaling potential, including through accelerated international expansion and operational efficiencies,” a- he declared.

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

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