This young entrepreneur often spends his days lounging on a weary-looking couch, surrounded by graffiti-covered walls, joking around with the guys and playing with paint. It’s another relaxing, fun and creative day behind the scenes of the man cave which is Sketchs Ink – the relatively new business 28-year-old CEO Brandon Maloney has thrown all his energy and time into, and the one he says is slowly taking over Ottawa’s hydrographics and custom paint market.
Sketchs Ink specializes in custom painting, but is also the only business in Ottawa that offers hydrographics.
Hydrographics is a method of applying printed designs to three-dimensional surfaces, and it offers over 600 prints to choose from.
“They are basically films that have different patterns on them, such as camouflage or Hello Kitty,” Maloney explains. “We put the film on top of a water tank, so it sits on top of the water, spray an activator, and what that does is dissolve the film and leaves the ink. So when you dip your part (or product) the ink is transferred onto it.”
This process takes a couple of hours, as Sketchs Ink takes extra steps that most shops don’t bother with, Maloney says. He says his obsession with quality is what helps him to really impress, keep and grow his clientele. If he isn’t completely proud or satisfied with a finished product, “it doesn’t leave the front door.”
It isn’t only assurance of quality that helps his business stand out from their competition, Maloney says. Unlike other shops that only do automotive work, Sketchs Ink accepts all types of jobs, which allows clients to individualize almost any product.
“We have people coming in with all types of weird job requests,” says Maloney. “We mostly do motorcycles and car repairs, but we have also done computer cases, an Xbox, a full-scale remote control airplane, paintball guns, golf clubs, portable phone chargers…It sets us apart from our competition and is what makes our life fun, because we get to see a lot of different stuff that most shops wouldn’t see.”
He says one of the craziest requests he ever had was to make “explosive and narcotic detectors for the army, look camouflage.”
He took the job, of course.
Maloney says being able to be creative and do something different every day is what helps him stay sane, even with the 60 hour work weeks that aren’t unusual for him.
Long days aren’t the only downside to owning a new business.
“I feel like I have been running for the past year,” he says. “I would like to get to that point where I’m not worrying about bill payments.”
Although there are struggles, Maloney says he “would rather take a risk and do something that no one else has done, than be safe and secure in a job and be miserable.”
His passion for owning a business and for custom painting itself has followed him for a lifetime. Maloney began painting helmets and bicycles for some clients in a tiny shed next to his house, when he was only 13, embracing his talent while balancing high school and another part-time job.
This work ethic has transferred well to owning a business, years later.
It was Maloney’s drive that initially persuaded 25-year-old Sean Young, an expert painter with years of experience in the automotive industry, to accept the business proposal.
“When he wants something, he goes out and gets it,” says Young about Maloney.
Young has also had previous experience airbrushing and doing small art projects in a shop his parents created in their basement for him, when he was about seven.
Now, at Sketchs Ink, he is the lead painter. He has an act for combining customer’s personalities with their ideas for their product, to help find the creative masterpiece they were hoping for.
“Here, you can be creative and experiment with the things you want to do,” Young says. “When you love what you’re doing, it’s not really work.”
The shop has a laid-back feel to it, with walls painted with graffiti by local artists, where giant octopuses, skulls, aliens and wizards can be found.
It has indeed become a second home for these young entrepreneurs.