Joey and Aldora met in Montreal, Quebec in 2007. Joey was illustrating children’s books when he met the business savvy Aldora, who was pursuing a university degree in Dietetics. After only a few months together, they took a summer trip to New York where they randomly walked into a Hot Topic. On the drive home, Aldora was inspired and suggested to Joey, "Why don't we learn to print your designs onto t-shirts?"
They named their brand Akumu Ink® (pronounced: akoo·moo ink), based on the Japanese translation for 'Nightmare'. The brand's aesthetic was inspired by their love of cartoons and horror movies. The couple created their own niche that they felt needed to be explored.
Within a few months they designed their first 6 shirts, purchased a small hobby press, learned how to screen-print, and coded a very basic website. After a few days of the webstore being online, they had their first sale! They printed everything from their 2-bedroom apartment in Montreal, Quebec while attending tattoo, anime and comic conventions across Canada. They created more than 100 designs during this 5 year period.
(Above image: First Tattoo Convention in Toronto, and printing from their apartment. Canada 2008)
USA 2014-2018Although the small art brand had a lot of loyal Canadian customers, it was not enough to sustain them in the long term. After 5 years of struggling to grow their brand in Canada, the couple made a huge move to relocate to Los Angeles, California.
They toured across the U.S.A. to sell directly to customers at over 100+ comic/anime conventions during the 5 years they lived there. To meet the increasing demand, the printing was outsourced to a local printer. Akumu Ink also set up their first warehouse where the owners packed and shipped all orders in-house.
During this time they expanded from only selling t-shirts and hoodies, to selling their art on stickers, socks, backpacks and wallets. Aldora and Joey worked together coming up with design ideas. They created more than 100 new designs while living and working in the US.
(Below image: New York ComicCon 2018)
NETHERLANDS 2019-NOWThings were beginning to get hectic in the U.S., and a choice had to be made as to whether to renew their U.S. visa or go back to Canada. The husband and wife duo instead made a brave and uncertain decision to relocate to the Netherlands to experience Europe, where they had a huge following.
Upon arriving in 2019, they setup at comic conventions in Switzerland, France, and the UK. But due to the pandemic, it forced Joey and Aldora to no longer rely on conventions. They opened their new Akumu Ink® Studio just outside of Amsterdam, where they now print and ship all online orders directly to customers and to stores.
After creating more than 300 t-shirt designs over the last 15 years, the husband and wife team are now looking to be inspired by Europe and to create more creepy storybooks like their self-published Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland (2019) and Nightmare Fairytales (2022).
The future is bright and inspiration looms around every corner. With your support, Aldora and Joey will continue to create art, books, comics, and merch for many years to come.
(Above image: The city of Leiden, Netherlands)
Since 2008, Akumu Ink® has created 300+ original designs sold on various apparel and merchandise.
Akumu Ink® products have been available in 100+ select boutiques and shops throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Singapore, and Japan. They even licensed some of their designs to Spencer’s Gifts’ 600+ stores across the USA between 2017-2019. A full list of stores currently carrying Akumu Ink® can be found here.
If your store wants to carry Akumu Ink® merch, contact us here to inquire about wholesale pricing.
(Above image: BorderlinePlus in Toronto, Ontario)
While in California, Akumu Ink® proudly became a socially aware brand. With the help of their supportive customers they raised and donated $5,000 for Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief, Suicide Prevention, California Firefighters, etc. and even sewing their misprinted shirts into pillows (above image) and donating them to the homeless: Read more here.
In the Netherlands, they continue to be socially aware by incorporating recycled plastic products to replace synthetic backpack materials.
They also offer a collection of t-shirt designs that directly fund specific charity organizations from helping Ukraine refugees, supporting LGBTQ youth, fighting racial injustice, and rescuing animals in Australia caught in the wildfires. Click here to view and support these causes.