After reflecting on the profits they received in their first year in business, Ink Couture owner, Frank Russo, and manager, Mike Russo, decided they had a responsibility to give back to the local community. They believed they could make a difference by helping to improve the lives of children with Autism. Collaborating with the non profit group, Autism Warriors, they launched an annual Autism Awareness event to fund research and raise awareness about the disorder.
St. John's University
Every year, a few days before Christmas, Ink Couture hosts an annual Autism Awareness event for the "Autism Warriors," a group of parents whose children struggle with autism. The goal is to raise money to find a cure and heighten community awareness about the disorder.
Event activities include the Little Ghouls Ball, a chance to sit on Santa's lap, receive gifts, and enjoy delicious baked goods. But the highlight is a free Autism Awareness tattoo featuring a puzzle piece design to reflect the "puzzling" aspects of autism. For every tattoo given, Ink Couture donates $50 to the Autism Warriors. Money is also raised through direct donations.
A year after opening Ink Couture, Frank and Mike Russo decided that in addition to running a profitable business, it was crucial they give back to the community that had treated them so well. "When you do well in business you should share it with the community," Mike explained.
He said they heard about the Autism Warriors through a friend and loved the impact the organization was having on the local autism community and the lives of its children. Mike Russo describes the Autism Warriors as "loving parents that dedicate so much of their time to their children and others."
Frank reached out to one of its leaders and proposed the idea of an Autism Awareness event around Christmas that would provide gifts and free autism tattoos. The Autism Warriors loved it and now host the event annually.
Ink Couture's Autism Awareness event raises thousands of dollars every year for the Autism Warriors. In 2016 it generated over $5000. The money is used to fund future events, help individuals in need, and find a cure for the puzzling disorder.
The event also touches the lives of the autistic children who attend. Ranging in age from five to 13, they're made to feel welcome and shown that though they may be "different" in some ways than other children, they should be treated like everyone else and not like a child with autism.
The fundraiser impacts the local community too, bringing people together with generosity, kindness and love. Attendance continues to grow each year. More than 500 people attended in 2016. With the growth of attendance has come growth of the love and support for the autistic community.
The Autism Awareness event has helped Ink Couture generate increased revenue as positive publicity has grown its client base. At its core are Autism Warrior parents who come in after the event to get new tattoo's and then spread the word about Ink Couture to other family members and friends.
Autistic children and their families have great admiration for the Autism Awareness event. The children receive love and appreciation and the local community gains a better understanding of the challenges faced by those who struggle with it on a daily basis. Many people who do not have an autistic relative attend the event because of its inspirational message of equal treatment and love for all, no matter what disability someone may have.
Mike Russo, Manager
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Staten Island, NY, United States
Business Website: http://www.inkcouturenyc.com
Year Founded: 2013
Number of Employees: 11-50