As many of you already know, both Aldora and Joey are from Montreal, Canada. We started Akumu Ink in 2008 and learned how to run our brand for 7 years before making a life altering decision to move ourselves and our business to California in 2014.
But, in 2019 it was time for us to renew our US visas or go back to Canada, as staying in the US didn’t feel right for us anymore.
One reason for not renewing our US visas was the tariffs that were being implemented back in 2017, the cost to export and import our goods drastically increased causing us to lose most of our international customers as it made the price of our products way to expensive. We also wanted to create new products and merchandise overseas but the same tariffs made everything too expensive to import, not allowing us to grow our brand and diversify our product offerings as we would have liked.
The second reason we decided to leave was the racial encounters we experienced in 2018. Aldora (co-founder/co-creator of Akumu Ink) was racially discriminated against three times over the course of our last year living in the US (In Chicago, New York City, and Nashville). Considering our job mainly consisted of travelling to different parts of the country, this made us feel very unsafe and unwelcomed.
We always wondered how Akumu Ink would do in Europe, and hoped to move there in 10 years. But with the visa renewal looming, or the option to move back to Canada, we made another insane choice to relocate once again, and this time to Europe!
We got to live our version of the American Dream for 5 years, travelling every other weekend selling our art/merch across 15 different states, and just doing what we love. We created over 100 original designs, setup our booth at about 89 conventions, and met so many amazing people of all different backgrounds that understood the art we created and supported our weird obsession to want to keep creating more fun things. We would not be here without every single one of you.
We hope we can keep doing this for a long time to come!
We’re never going to forget our time in California.
-Joey and Aldora.