On Keri Donovan’s wrist, three tattooed words, spelled out in a bold typewriter font, have recently taken a heightened meaning in her life.
The tattoo, which could fit on a Post-it note, is temporary, nontoxic and a useful reminder for Donovan to keep her chin up as she tackles a challenging period in her life, she said.
She had taken to writing encouraging notes to herself on the mirrors around her home. But these temporary tattoos, which blend with the few permanent tattoos Donovan already has, are an ideal way for her to carry her mantras throughout the day.
“I thought it was a wonderful idea to have the message on my wrist … to remind me that I am enough,” said the 56-year-old Bend resident.
Conscious Ink is the brainchild of Frank Gjata, 54, who worked as a transformational coach for 15 years after leaving a career in advertising.
“I was always looking for ways to remind my clients and myself of the things that are important to us — what our intents and commitments are — especially during times when we’re most often to forget,” Gjata said.
The tattoos are soy-based and made in the U.S. They last two to five days, depending where on the body they’re applied. Customers can pick and choose from about 500 messages, mantras and images.
Gjata and a small team brought Conscious Ink to market in 2010. He now has seven part-time employees, and the tattoos are available in about 1,000 stores throughout the country, he said, although most of the “tens of thousands” of purchases happen online. Conscious Ink, which was previously located in downtown Bend for three years until 2017, now has its headquarters and retail front at Cascade Village Shopping Center, next to Shinsei Sushi.
Along with tattoos, Conscious Ink offers apparel and cards that carry its messages.
Gjata came up with idea of making temporary tattoos for adults when his daughter, who was 5, returned home from a birthday party in 2008. She showed him her goody bag, which included some temporary tattoos.
“They were kind of cool-looking,” Gjata said, “much more cool than the temporary tattoos from Cracker Jack boxes.”
He put a paisley heart tattoo on his ankle. He was struck by how realistic it looked, he said.
“It came to me: Wow, wouldn’t it be cool if we had some words, quotes and affirmations that we can tattoo onto our bodies to support us and remind us of what’s important?” Gjata said.
Conscious Ink offers tattoos across genres that include healing, abundance and perseverance. Others are dedicated to veganism, the Aloha spirit and the LGBTQ community. The company will add 50 to 100 new messages this year.
“This is an easy and fun way to put the words or messages that are important to you on your body that can be changed out at will, to your heart’s desire,” he said.
Originally from Los Angeles, Gjata returned to Bend in 2013 after living here in the early 1990s.
Kelly Pofahl picked up Conscious Ink tattoos at Newport Avenue Market until she recently stumbled onto the company’s brick-and-mortar store.
“I love the concept,” said Pofahl, 50. “It seems to be a trend these days for people to focus on a word. Everywhere on social media I’m seeing ‘What’s your word for 2019?’ People are looking for a word to stay focused and help transform their life.”
Pofahl’s word for 2019 is joy. She’ll place the tattoo on the inside of her arm.
“It’s kind of hidden, but then I can see it,” Pofahl said. “I just want to find joy in the little things.”
Pofahl likes Conscious Ink’s impermanence.
“I’ve never been able to commit to a tattoo because I felt there was nothing strong enough that’s going to symbolize my whole life,” she said.
During her recent visit, Pofahl bought a packet of tattoos that read “Love” — it’s a gift for a friend who recently lost a loved one. She also picked up a matching twin set of Scorpio-themed tattoos, which she’ll share with a close friend.
While Gjata doesn’t have any permanent tattoos, he regularly wears temporary ones. One of his go-to tattoos is “Remember who you really are.”
“It’s fun to get tatted up — at least temporarily,” Gjata said.
Conscious Ink donates to a variety of national charities and nonprofits through its “Give-Ink Back” program, in which $2 from every tattoo packet benefits charities and nonprofits. “Manifest 10” packets, which feature eight tattoos, funnel 10 percent of profit to such groups.
Donovan, a first-time visitor to Conscious Ink, bought 10 packets that each contain two tattoos. She originally came across Conscious Ink on Amazon. Then, an advertisement for the company followed her to Facebook. When she did an online search for the company, she learned the company had a physical location in Bend, so she stopped by. In addition to “I am enough,” Donovan collected other messages: “Be here now,” “What good can come of this?” and “Remember who you really are.”
“I’m working through some things in my life that are important to me, that are important to my character,” Donovan said.
Another tattooed message that resonates with Donovan is “I love & Appreciate my body.”
“I’ve lost 80 pounds and several more to go,” she said. “Another tattoo I bought is ‘She believed she could so she did.’ The nice thing is that these tattoos last for a short period of time. But I can continue to use them for as long as I want, whenever I want and wherever I want. I like that.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7816, firstname.lastname@example.org