More than 60 million t-shirts, over $200 million revenue (2014), #29 in the Fortune list of Best Workplaces for Millennials – that is CustomInk. Get to know its history, core values and what it is like to work there!
The company founded 15 years ago is based in Virginia (Fairfax) and has additional offices in Nevada (Reno), Texas (Dallas, Flower Mound), as well as Virginia (Charlottesville).
With the help of CustomInk you can design apparel, office supplies and drinkware and order them. Their website allows you to upload any image you like, including your own art. If you wish, you may also use those design tools that are installed on the site. There are many fonts, colors, clipart pictures, helpful ideas. The library boasts more than 6 thousands of artist-designed templates, whereas the number of artwork pieces exceeds 65,000. This service is very popular with people designing clothes and drinkware for groups and occasions
Customers can order apparel as a group, but pay for it individually. This service is available since April 2015.
The story behind CustomInk
Although the company was formally launched in 2000, it was born several months earlier, in 1999. Its co-founders used to study in the same class at college, and the idea of starting a business together came shortly after graduation.
Mike Driscoll spent three months working on a site that would allow people to upload their pictures onto clothes and buy them. Although at that moment it was just in theory. Mike had several customers, but did not have enough time to make a real business of this, as he was going to school again. So he invited his former roommate, Marc Katz (today he is CustomInk’s CEO).
Actually, Marc was quite busy then as he had a job on Wall Street. But he was not satisfied – this job “did not have a lot of heart”, as he puts it. So this creative idea seemed attractive to him. He talked it over with another former classmate, Dave Christensen, a computer genius, and the company was born.
Today you can still see a green couch in the office – it’s virtually a mascot. At this very couch Marc was sitting when he was discussing every detail of CustomInk business with Dave by phone. What they really wanted was to make the very process of getting custom t-shirts fun and easy. Their “design online” website was the clue to success – but not the only one. Marc and Dave were looking for people who feel bad when they let someone down, and that was what mattered.
The first fully-functional website started to work in late 2000, and at this moment there were only 10 workers (including Marc and Dave). Very soon the first Inkademy Awards ceremony was held, honoring those employers who demonstrated company’s core values.
CustomInk names customer satisfaction its priority. That is why back in 2002 co-founders decided to publish all customer feedback without a single amendment on CustomInk homepage. It is still there: uncensored feedback is published on the site even now – there are over 40,000 reviews already. More than 97.2% customers wrote that they would order from this company again.
Business was developing at a great speed, and in 2005 CustomInk debuted at #55 in the list of fastest-growing U.S. companies (published in Inc. Magazine).
It all started from a t-shirt, and this type of apparel is still the base of CustomInk product catalog – there are hundreds of styles and colors. However today any customer may choose from a wide range of things (not only clothes): hoodies, hats, outwear, drinkware and so on.
Careers at CustomInk
What is it like – working for CustomInk? Although the work environment is casual, it does not mean one have a chance to be lazy. The company’s motto is: “We play hard and work harder”. This approach has proved to be very successful, as CustomInk appears in a number of rankings evaluating top workplaces:
– #38 in the list of best employers of D.C. area made by the Washington Post (category: Midsize Workplaces) – 2015;
– #29 and #62 in two lists of top employers made by Fortune (“Best Workplaces for Millenials” and “Best Companies to Work For” respectively) – 2015;
– #1 among retailers (this list was published in Fortune Magazine and Great Place to Work in 2014);
– appeared in “Great Places to Work” made by Washingtonian Magazine (2005, 2007, 2009, 2013).
Additionally, NVFS granted CustomInk with a CARE Award for its commitment to family-friendly policies.
So, what are the qualities this company is looking for in its team members? One of them is ability to take pride in your work – this is essential for every employee, no matter what position he occupies. A “perfect” Inker is also a person who wants to introduce improvements whatever he is doing. Caring for others, ability to work in a close-knit team is one more thing that this company would like to see in its every employee. And of course people who are friendly, motivated, hardworking have a great benefit.
What about benefits and perks? Employees get a good medical, dental and vision insurance at a minimal cost, life and AD&D insurance for free, can go on long personal leave every year (other types of leave are also possible, including parental of military leave). Those team members who achieve great results get Inkademy Awards during a special festival night held every year. Have we mentioned free snacks, a casual dress code, as well as a catered lunch weekly?
Let’s say something about work environment. The office space is organized in a special way so as to boost one’s imagination and motivation – that is very important in any creative occupation. Redskin helmets, images of Jerry Garcia, action figures, pictures of Hello Kitty – all this can be seen on the walls. Personal workplaces are adorned by workers themselves, so that they can express his or her personality. What is more, one can see customer feedback, photographs, as well as customer designs – this all is to remind Inkers why they are at this office.
There are open positions in different areas, including Business Development, eCommerce, Finance, In-House Production, Marketing.