Thriving Ink is a company that sells t-shirts designed by artists from around the world. In its online catalog, you will find tees from popular designers in the indie t-shirt world, including AJ Dimarucot, Pale Horse, and Hydro74. Not only does Thriving Ink have a web presence, it also has a brick and mortar store to boot! In the spring of 2009, Thriving Ink opened its first retail store in Pleasanton, California. We interview Jenelle Dronkers, of Thriving Ink.
The Thriving Ink shop in Pleasanton, California
“There is nothing better than having someone walk into our shop and look through our hundreds of tees until they find the perfect one.”
BM: When was Thriving Ink founded and how did the business come together?
JD: Thriving Ink was founded in 2007 by my family. We were at a place where all of us knew we wanted to work together and we all wanted to create something. At the time we were just getting into t-shirts and graphics and could not find any information on our favorite pieces or the artists behind them. It seemed like a no-brainer to create a t-shirt company that really highlighted the t-shirt as a canvas and gave you all of the information in regards to how it was created and by who. Our ideas kind of took off from there and we began talking to artists who were totally on board with the idea.
BM: What’s the meaning behind the name “Thriving Ink”?
JD: We were just throwing out ideas for names and I knew i wanted it to be an active word of sorts. THRIVING is such a great word. INK is just a staple of most artists, whether it be digital or actual ink. Plus, it’s just catchy.
BM: I have read that Thriving Ink is a family-run business. What’s it like going to work with your closest kin?
JD: Oh man! Working with family is probably one of the greatest learning experiences. We have found that it all boils down to respect. You have to respect each others ideas, thoughts, suggestions etc. Without respect it would be impossible to work together. There are definitely times that are harder than others but we have a very close family so we always find a solution to our issues and move past them.
BM: Do you print all the t-shirts in the Thriving Ink line yourself?
JD: We print our tees using Storenvy and Oaklandish from Oakland, California. We love to print locally most of the time but send things over to Storenvy when we need something special. Both are awesome to work with. We always recommend supporting your local businesses and that’s why we always try and print through Oaklandish.
BM: Thriving Ink operates both online and offline. What are the biggest differences in running an online shop versus a physical store? Which do you prefer more?
JD: I have to say I prefer running the store more than the online store. Working in the shop allows me to directly connect with the people wearing our tees. There is nothing better than having someone walk into our shop and look through our hundreds of tees until they find the perfect one. I am also able to answer everyone’s questions and tell them about each piece whether it is a Thriving Ink tee or from another indie brand.
BM: Do you plan on opening up any other retail shops? If so, are you thinking of opening them outside of California?
JD: We would eventually love to have more stores both in the Bay Area and beyond.
BM: Your retail location sells an array of products, including clothing and accessories from other companies. Do you plan on expanding the range of merchandise in your online shop to mirror the store in Pleasanton?
JD: Yes! We are currently setting up our very own photography studio in our garage so we can take photos of our new products and put them up on our site right away. Before we would have to schedule a photo shoot, wait to get the photos, upload them to the site and hope we still had inventory at the shop. Now we will be able to get a new product and photograph it immediately and not wait on anyone but ourselves. We are kind of impatient that way. We will soon be adding a line of dresses and tops that are made in Los Angeles that we cannot keep on the shelves here in Pleasanton as well as a selection of brands we carry in store.
BM: From reading your posts on Twitter, I’ve noticed that you often have community events. When did you start doing this, and do you feel that it is part of what Thriving Ink is all about?
JD: We opened a shop not knowing how it would be received here in Pleasanton. We are a small town about an hour from San Francisco and there is nothing like us around. As soon as we opened the doors it became very clear that this was going to be a community hub. We host many events in store that center around art– We have a live artist who comes out all the time to paint in the store. We are lucky to be part of a community that likes to come together and hang out. We work closely with Wente Vineyards from the Livermore Valley to host events in store that help our customers discover Art and Wine and Music in a really cool atmosphere. Our customers are the best!
BM: Can you give us an inside scoop on what Thriving Ink will be up to this year? Are any new artists or collaborations in the works?
JD: This year we will continue to focus on the success of our shop and continue to host community-driven events. We now have a resident artist, Cody Williams, who will continue to create pieces for us. We hope to expand our line to include more locally-designed art and help the community understand the importance of “shopping local” and supporting local businesses.
BM: Do you have any final thoughts to share with the readers?
JD: We would be nothing without our customers. It is not easy starting a t-shirt company and we are so blessed to have a family that can just go with the flow and tweak aspects of our business as needed.
Visit ThrivingInk.com to shop for some cool Thriving Ink tees.