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Richmonder's Invention Salves Celebrity Tattoos

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Not bad for a business less than a year old. Crae, a 28-year-old professional esthetician, has already found a national market for her Ezmeralda line of bath, body and home products, launched in 2001. (Her stress-relieving Peace Putty recently made its way into the hands of actors Robert De Niro and Matt Dillon and singer Beyonce Knowles, among others.)

But there isn't much crossover between the scented-bath crowd and tattoo enthusiasts, Crae found. To market Ink Wax, Crae says, "I did it the really barbaric way": sending e-mails to 5,500 tattoo studios across the country last February. She gave away samples at tattoo conventions and enlisted the help of 11 sales representatives to help catapult Ink Wax into the market.

The large tins sell for $10, the small for $6. The number sold thus far is "in the thousands," Crae says, but she has no problem keeping up with demand. Her kitchen/office in the basement of Fulton Hill Studios is stocked with everything she needs: dozens of blue plastic mixing basins, boxes of empty tins and books on aromatherapy and business.

The idea for Ink Wax came to her three years ago when her ex-husband got a tattoo. Crae started creating a salve in her kitchen, choosing ingredients she believed would promote both the healing and appearance of tattoos: beeswax (which is oxygen-permeable), grapeseed oil (an antioxidant), and oils of rosemary and lavender. Extensive testing at local tattoo studios helped her refine the mixture.

The real demonstration came in July, when one of her sales representatives, James Cope, decided to try for the Guinness Book of World Records by being tattooed for 40 hours straight (he made it to 27). Crae supplied ample Ink Wax, of course. "You just take whatever you want," she told him. — Melissa Scott Sinclair

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