Future vision: where we’ve been and where we’re going

November 4, 2015 | 9:51:54 PM

You know that P.ink (short for Personal Ink) connects breast cancer survivors with tattoo artists who can help them move on after a mastectomy. What you may not know is how we do this, or why. So let’s start with our “whys” — here are a four things we believe.

  1. Creative disruption can be the most effective way to close the gap between being cured and being healed.
  2. We’re here to change the culture of healing. And to change culture, we have to challenge a few conventions.
  3. P.ink is a brand first. A movement second. And a startup nonprofit third. What that means: the nature of our mission requires that we have the ambitions of a fearless brand. We must leverage the energy of millions, and we have to do this with the speed of a startup and the financial integrity of a nonprofit.
  4. This is an ongoing experiment. We’ll create something of lasting value by trying new things, making mistakes, learning and tinkering as we go.

P.ink is nearly three years old. We’ve accomplished so much, and we’re just getting started. Now that you know why we do what we do, here’s more on what we do. And how you can make the most of working with us.

Born from personal experience

We started in 2013 when my sister in law Molly wanted something more creatively empowering than the options her doctor gave her. Our thinking was that there are millions more Mollys out there, and yet there were no resources online for anyone seeking mastectomy tattoos.

So we changed that by launching P.ink in early 2013. First, we connected Molly with the talented Colby Butler, an artist who is now based in Miami. Their story will change the way you think about tattoos. Watch: 

New resources for survivors seeking ink

We also curated a collection of stunning mastectomy tattoo ideas and built a directory of artists with mastectomy experience. You’ll find those on Pinterest here: http://www.pinterest.com/personalink/

Today those resources are still the cornerstone of our service—if you’re excited about the idea of getting a mastectomy tattoo, make it happen: first talk with your doctor. Next, browse our design inspirations, search our artist directory, and do it: hire an artist near you.

Over time we’ve learned there are many unmet needs in the warrior’s journey. So I think of P.ink as our invention platform for addressing those needs in clever and effective ways.

For example: it’s hard to know what a tattoo might look like on you. And walking into a tattoo shop can be intimidating. So we built the Inkspiration app for iPhone to help survivors virtually try on a tattoo in the privacy of their own home. Learn more about it here: http://p-ink.org/inkspiration (Unfortunately the app is temporarily unavailable pending tech-vendor issues. It’ll be up again soon.)

P.ink Day and the P.ink Fund: converting ideals into action

Another unmet need: if you’ve never had a tattoo, it’s likely that you have no sense of where to begin. So we created P.ink Day to bring the P.ink experience offline and into the real world. This all-volunteer experience connects artists and survivors for an amazing day of healing with ink each year on 10/10.

P.ink Day just completed its third year in October 2015. What started with just 10 artists and 10 survivors at Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn for our first P.ink Day in 2013 has grown into a true grassroots movement, now with 46 artists, 48 survivors and hundreds of volunteers across 13 locations in North America. In total, we’ve facilitated nearly 100 incredible mastectomy tattoos via P.ink Day. Here’s the full scoop. And here’s an ABC Nightline story on our 2015 P.ink Day in NYC.

An aside: we don’t think of P.ink Day — or anything else we do — as “just a tattoo.” This is a healthcare experience, a choreographed day of healing with the survivor’s experience at the heart of everything we do. Our standards for both artists and volunteers are very high. Therefore artist and local-leader participation in P.ink Day is by invitation only. We realize that may be an unpopular choice for a movement like this, but we’d rather have one successful location than 100 unsuccessful ones.

We’ve also learned that there’s a massive unmet need the other 364 days of the year. For that reason, we’ve created the P.ink Fund. Your tax deductible contributions help us pay top artists as they help survivors reclaim some of the personal property that breast cancer can steal. Donate here: http://p-ink.org/give.

Survivors: this is your moment.

Last October I spied a tweet that said “I’m getting sick of seeing all these mastectomy tattoos on the web. I know it’s October, but enough already.”

I love that tweet. Just one year prior there were almost zero images of mastectomy tattoos on the web. In that short time, this movement has had enough impact to bother somebody. I’d say that’s a desirable metric. One we need to keep strengthening. And now is the time to build on our momentum.

Do it: if you’re a survivor or previvor interested in getting inked via P.ink Day or the P.ink Fund the only way to get on our list is to sign up here: http://p-ink.org/signup. (As you’d imagine, the list is quite long. It may be preferable for you to hire an artist on your own terms. Browse our directory.)

In the meantime, if you’d like to connect with a community of survivors and others on the topic of mastectomy tattoos, join us over on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PersonalInk/

Looking ahead: 501(c)(3) + international growth

Big plans ahead. Here’s what the next year looks like.

1. Structure. In the past, P.ink has been a fiscally sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, built with the time, energy and talents of the people at CP+B, an ad agency in Boulder, Colorado. P.ink is now independent from the agency and is becoming its own a 501c3 charitable organization. We’re grateful to CP+B and excited for the new opportunities that this new structure affords.

2. Funding. Every organization must generate capital to be effective. To keep the lights on. To pay staff. To change the world. We’re rethinking the value of traditional nonprofit funding activities and exploring different kinds of brand partnership models to fund our initiatives. If you’re interested in collaborating with us, send a note: help@p-ink.org.

3. Finally, we’re expanding internationally. The incredible press coverage we’ve earned has helped change the culture of healing in North America. But outside the states, there are still very few options for survivors wanting something different. In 2016 we will be bringing P.ink experiences to cities in Europe, Australia and South America to generate awareness, change lives and seed regional resources.

In the meantime, our all-volunteer crew continues to make magic. Now and forever, we can always use more qualified help. Reach out if you can lend your expertise in the areas of social media, technology consulting or legal services: help@p-ink.org.

Are you with us?

That’s it — everything you’ll need to know about P.ink for the next year and beyond. If you, too, believe in the power of creative disruption to change the culture of healing, join us. Make a contribution that matters by giving to the P.ink Fund. Buy some goodies. Tell your friends. Or volunteer. As always, we’re available at help@p-ink.org.

Noel Franus
P.ink founder and executive director

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