Candies Deezy Liu is one of those people who makes you think, “What am I doing with my life?” In the time it
takes the rest of us to make a cup of coffee and peer outside to check the weather, she’s probably already launched a new business, or championed a new cause, or mastered a new art form. Her brain is constantly pondering the next big thing she wants to achieve… and there’s a near-guarantee on the fact that she will achieve it. Maybe by the time you have lunch.
Who is Candies and what has she done? Let’s start at the beginning…
Candies is Chinese, grew up in Dallas, TX, and admits she has been an overachiever her entire life. As a kid, she was a figure skater, pianist, ballerina, jazz musician and golfer. Oh, and she took Chinese language courses on the side.
Sounds like a typical Asian-kid stereotype, right? Maybe you’re thinking “daughter of a Tiger Mom?” You know the type: overachiever, brilliant, curious and good at everything.
But Candies is no stereotype.
As a child, unbeknownst to her traditional, conservative family, Candies was also a “goth/punk kid who hung out with weird people.”
She claims she never fit in, was into body piercing and tattoos long before they became trendy, and enjoyed the kind of art and culture that “wasn’t celebrated in high school, where you had to be an academic or a jock.”
“I was always drawing on myself,” she admits. “I had to hide the fact that I had tattoos from my parents and family. I am 30 now and I am still the only person in my entire family who has tattoos. I’m still the black sheep.”
And the cat is out of the bag.
“I’m at the point of no return,” she says. “I’m very heavily tattooed. There’s no hiding it anymore!”
Clearly, instead of letting the pressures of society hold her back, Candies has learned to celebrate her own passions, and then to help others celebrate theirs.
Case in point: InkSpired, a magazine that chronicles, celebrates and advances the tattoo lifestyle and culture. And no mere fringe publication, InkSpired now boasts over 2 million fans in the digital world, where the magazine is largely circulated.
“When I started InkSpired, it was like a test to see if I could create a brand out of nothing using social media,” says Candies, who studied digital marketing in college. “I didn’t have a massive budget and I was fresh out of college with no investor. I built our social media network of more than 2 million fans.”
Additionally, Candies credits her business partner and creative director, Sean Hartgrove, for helping her build the magazine’s staff and content. The magazine is gorgeous, with artistic, professional photography and stunning design. Together, Candies and Sean are constantly developing the magazine’s innovative content and presentation.
Today, the magazine profiles the hottest tattoo models, world-renown tattoo artists, popular musicians and any other people, lifestyles or cultural trends that Candies believes will interest her audience. For example, Candies loves football and she believes deeply in the power of philanthropy, so InkSpired has showcased football players who do good with the millions they make off the game. (It doesn’t hurt when the athletes also sport tattoos.)
InkSpired is published every month (a Herculean feat
for a small shop) and is digitally distributed for free, largely supported by advertising. However, Candies says that many readers choose the print-on-demand option, ordering copies that are so stunning they are considered coffee-table books.
“We make our editorial content as timeless as possible so that these magazines can remain showpieces for years to come,” she says. “No one throws this magazine away.”
Also, the digital-to-print ethos of the magazine is fundamental to Candies’ passion for both technology and the environment. “Tech is at the forefront of everything I do, and I am also very environmentally conscious. I wanted to make sure we weren’t wasting paper to drop one of these in someone’s mailbox without being certain they wanted a hard copy.”
Now, Candies receives story ideas, model portfolios and advertising inquiries from around the globe. And, since the magazine has been such a success, Candies decided to build on the brand (of course she did) and launched the InkSpired Shop, where the company sells men’s, women’s and kids’ attire, as well as art and accessories.
On a totally different dimension, Candies has also re-launched a social media marketing company that she formed just out of college. (Yeah, she’s probably getting bored, right?)
No matter what Candies decides to pursue next, you can count on it being countercultural, high-quality and successful.
“I will always try to bust society’s stereotypes,” she says. “I’ve been rebelling since I was 13, and living life on my own terms. It’s my goal to empower others to pursue their own passions no matter what.”