Inked Brands, which provides tools and services for digital influencers to launch ecommerce businesses, closed $6 million in Series A funding from investors including VC and media-production firm Archer Gray and Jim Fielding, 20th Century Fox’s president of consumer products and innovation.
Other investors in Inked Brands, founded in 2007 and based in Bowling Green, Ky., include BIP Capital, Bertelsmann’s BDMI and Halogen Ventures.
Inked Brands handles web development, product development, marketing, fulfillment and customer service on behalf of influencer partners to sell merchandise online. The company’s portfolio includes U.S. Olympic gymnast and YouTube creator Shawn Johnson’s FYT Life; YouTuber-actress Meghan Rienks’ martie; and designer-entrepreneur Mica May’s MayBox. Inked Brands has about 50 employees.
With the funding, Fox’s Fielding and Amy Nauiokas, Archer Gray’s founder and chair, have joined Inked Brands’ board. In addition, Archer Gray partner Vinay Singh will serve as a board observer.
April Foster, founder and CEO of Inked Brands (pictured above), said in announcing the funding that “Archer Gray intrinsically understands the great potential that lies at the intersection of content and commerce.”
Nauiokas commented, “Much like Inked Brands, Archer Gray is committed to supporting content creators which makes our relationship a natural fit. Additionally, I am passionate about promoting female-led businesses and look forward to advising April on her company’s growth and exciting future.”
Nauiokas production projects include Marielle Heller’s upcoming “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” starring Melissa McCarthy and previously released films Mike Mills’ “20th Century Women,” “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” and “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete.” On the venture-financing side, Archer Gray’s current portfolio includes Battlefy, Emoticast, Epic Magazine, Littlstar and ShareGrid.
Fielding, a 30-year veteran of the entertainment industry, currently oversees 20th Century Fox’s licensing and merchandising. He previously was DreamWorks Animation’s global head of consumer products and retail development and also served as CEO of Claire’s Stores and president of Disney Stores Worldwide.