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Did you know that octopuses have three hearts? Marc Katz and his team at CustomInk did. And that's the very reason they selected the octopus to be the company mascot: The Tysons Corner, VA-based custom apparel decoration business wanted to emphasize that it has a lot of heart – that it's a business that is about more than just profits.
Nowhere is that ethos more emphatically brought to life than in CustomInk's "Three Hearts Initiative," a charitable and public service effort that strives to use the power of custom T-shirts to do good.
As part the initiative, CustomInk announced this week that it is partnering with Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, which grants the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening medical conditions. Through CustomInk, Make-A-Wish kids will get to design their own T-shirt to commemorate their wish experience. Katz and crew will then donate the shirts to the children, family members and volunteers involved in the wish.
"At CustomInk, we believe in the power of custom T-shirts to make special occasions even more special, and we feel privileged to do that for Make-A-Wish," says Katz, company co-founder and president. "We're blown away by the courage and compassion of the wish kids and wish granters. We hope these CustomInk shirts will bring joy to all involved and bring back great memories every time they're worn."
CustomInk's website – CustomInk.com – enables people to design and order custom T-shirts and accessories online. Using this online design lab, Make-A-Wish children will create a shirt for their wish occasion. The kids will have the option of choosing from a whole gamut of artwork, fonts and T-shirt templates, and even can upload their own artwork. Katz says a team of "inkers" – CustomInk employees – will ensure every order is delivered on time, just how the child envisions it. Indeed, CustomInk already did just that for one Make-A-Wish child – "Noemi," who had sweatshirts provided for her Quinceañera, a special celebration of a teenage girl's 15th birthday that occurs in Latin American cultures. Reading "I climbed a tree to see the world," the sweatshirts were given to Noemi's family and her Quinceañera flower girls, who wore the hoodies to a reception after the formal ceremony. "They were a huge hit," says Eleana Collins, a CustomInk spokeswoman.
"We are so grateful for the generosity shown by CustomInk with this wonderful gift," says Mary Roth, vice president of program services for Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic. "For each local wish child to receive a special custom T-shirt to further celebrate their wish will certainly add to the excitement of the experience and be a wonderful way for each member of the family to have a unique memento from their loved one's wish-come-true."
This isn't CustomInk's first charitable outreach through the Three Hearts Initiative. When kicking off the annual program in 2011, the apparel decorators raised funds and awareness for bullying prevention. "Thanks to our customers," CustomInk reports on its website, "celebrity supporters, and Dr. Phil, we united against bullying and raised thousands of dollars for our non-profit partner's bullying prevention programs." In October 2012, CustomInk donated more than $16,000 raised from custom bullying prevention shirt orders to its partner -- PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center -- which unites, engages and educates communities nationwide on bullying.
As results like that demonstrate, CustomInk isn't just at the forefront of Web-based apparel customization; it is also among the leaders when it comes to businesses in the industry giving back. And for both of those feats, you have to commend Katz and company.
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