It's been almost a year since we started hearing rumblings that Ephemeral, the tattoo parlor on Valencia Street whose tattoos were allegedly "made to fade," had some unhappy customers who were waiting much longer than the 9 to 15 months the shop promised for their tattoos to disappear.
Now, Ephemeral is shutting down all its locations, including the San Francisco studio, because the complaints have become too loud and too frequent, apparently.
The shop offering these "temporary" but very legit looking tattoos opened in March 2022, purporting to offer "the first made-to-fade tattoo ink." Based in New York, the company had raised some $20 million in venture capital at the time, but kind of like Theranos, it sounds like their product didn't exactly hold up to its promises.
As the Chronicle reports, some customers complain that their tattoos are only partially or barely faded more than two years after getting them. And the company put out a vague statement in February of this year saying, "70 percent of all Ephemerals will disappear in under two years and others longer."
Toby Leah Bochan, who was among the first customers of Ephemeral in Brooklyn in 2021, tells the Chronicle that she has a tattoo on her upper arm that still has not disappeared after 26 months. And she calls it "convenient" that the company is shutting down before it has to pay out on its "guarantee" — which was apparently that all tattoos would disappear completely after 36 months.
Company CEO Jeff Liu has reportedly assured Bochan and others that it will still provide refunds to any customers under that guarantee.
Liu said that the company is planning to sell its "disappearing" ink to other tattoo businesses now, rather than run its own shops — and it appears the patent for the ink has gone to one of the company's funders.
A tattoo artist who worked at Ephemeral in SF tells the Chronicle that the company likely suffered some quickly worsening word of mouth — not just about the length of time it took some tattoos to disappear, but also about the quality of the tattoos themselves.
That artist, Apollo Black, said the ink itself, which was mixed onsite from a powder, was highly inconsistent, sometimes giving clean, sharp lines, and at other times not.
The company sent emails to customers saying it would be taking its last appointments at its SF, Houston, Chicago, D.C., Los Angeles, and Brooklyn locations soon.
Images: (Left) Joe Kukura, Hoodline, (Right) Ephemeral