One of my biggest sellers at conventions are my charms, but when Printcess closed it's doors about a year ago, I was at a bit of a loss. Printcess was the first company I'd ever gone with for acrylic charms, and I stalled a bit with releasing my 2013 designs, waiting for a solution. I saw Zap charms for sale at various conventions, and picked up a few here and there, but was never that impressed by the quality. I'd ogled InkIt charms online for awhile, but they only offered vector submissions for a long time. By Editor's Day, I was out of all of 2012's popular designs, and looking for something to tide me over until InkIt opened up raster submissions. This led me to dabble in shrink film charms, and while they were very cute, my customers complained that they preferred acrylic to home made. And honestly, shrink film charms don't hold up very well to water, even if they've been sealed. A single spill on one of my Kara charms meant her face was ruined forever.
But my months of stalking InkIt's site finally paid off when they opened raster submissions. I'd been doodling charm designs for months, and selected ten of my favorite.
Something to keep in mind if you're using InkIt for charm printing is that their process is VERY different from Printcess. I went in thinking I could carry over the experience I'd gained with Printcess charms for designing my InkIt charms. This isn't necessarily true. They are, however, constantly updating their site with tutorial videos to make the process easier for charm newbies. Personally, I don't do so well with videos, I do a lot better with step by step instructions, but InkIt's fantastic customer service really saved my bacon. I received help from both the fabulous Deb and the founder Lauren herself to ensure that my charms were as cute as possible.
While I found the instructions to be a bit confusing, when I took my time and worked through them step by step, I managed to catch on. It isnt' so much that the instructions aren't clear, but the fact that I was making corrections at 4:00AM (my choice, not theirs) that made them hard to follow. What I couldn't figure out, Deb and Lauren either walked me through or fixed on their end, and they were both extremely patient with me.
Something I regret not taking advantage of is InkIt's sample packs, which come free when you order acrylic samples, or for a very minimal charge on their own. In the sample pack are several example charms utilizing InkIt's various services- clear charms, translucent ink, opaque ink, double sided printing, black acrylic, extra thin acrylic. Had I the foresight to order this sample pack, I know my charms would have been even cuter, as I would've known what was possible.
InkIt charms are more expensive than Printcess and Zap charms, especially if you go with double sided clear acrylic, and then opt for the optional gloss coating, but I feel like the difference in quality is very apparent when you actually hold them. The InkIt charms are solid, but not heavy, and the clear acrylic doesn't have any scratches or scrapes.
|Top row are various acrylic options, bottom row are wooden.|
Soaking the Charms
The CharmsMy charms arrived quickly once all the kinks had been worked out, and were well packaged and wrapped with paper backing. With acrylic charms, you can soak the charms in warm water to make the paper backing easier to remove, but I don't recommend this for wooden charms. I ordered my charms with two optional finishes, the candy gloss and the shimmer gloss.
Unlike Printcess, InkIt charms are actually printed on acrylic, rather than a sticker that can peel and bubble. The acrylic is thicker than Printcess charms, but thinner than Zap's, and feels sturdy but not clunky. The clear acrylic is simply beautiful, and if you look closely, you can actually see how the ink was printed onto the acrylic (which I think just adds so much to these charms).
InkIt Vs. Printcess Charms
|The Printcess charm is about half as thick as the InkIt charm.|
A couple days after my acrylic charms arrived, I received another exciting InkIt package--my wood samples! These were cut and printed free of charge (for me), but I did pay shipping, as they were finished a little too late to go out with the acrylic charms. I find the wooden charms extremely charming, and I hope that when 7" Kara is more popular, I can do some special Kara charms using the wood option.
|Top: Printed wood charm. Bottom: Printed acrylic charm with shimmer gloss coating.|
|The wooden charms come with a protective paper back, just like the acrylic charms.|
|Soaking the wooden charms would ruin them, but the backing peels off easily without soaking.|
|Left: Without white ink, no gloss. Right: With white ink, gloss.|
|Left: No white ink, no gloss. Right: White ink, gloss.|
|Left: Acrylic with shimmer gloss. Right: Wood with gloss.|
I hesitate a bit to recommend InkIt only because I wish I could keep them my little secret, but honestly, these charms are too fantastic not to share. InkIt's a fledgling business, and I can't deny them exposure just because I'm so thrilled with their product and I want a fighting edge. The charms do cost more than Printcess, and cost a lot more than Zap, but in my opinion, they are worth it. I'm so proud of these charms, I went and bought a clear acrylic display, to properly showcase them at conventions.
The 1.5" charms are a little bit bigger than I expected, so instead of just offering phone charms, I'll also have a few necklace findings on hand for customers who would prefer it as jewelry. Some of my designs appear a little warped when viewed from the opposite side, but that's MY mistake, I should have flipped them in Photoshop to check (as should you, if you're doing double sided acrylic).
All in all, I was very satisfied with both the customer service and the quality of InkItLabs charms, and I will probably continue to do business with them in the future.
Looking for another opinion? Check out these sources!
Neeko's Reviews of Printcess, InkIt, and Zap
The Tiniest Mention of Zap!
Another Micro Review- InkIt Vs. Zap