Marianne (’16) and Blake (’16) Southerland are in the business of breaking stigmas and opening doors.
More specifically, they are the founders of Inked Ministry, a non-profit business that shares the testimonies and stories behind faith-based tattoos. Inked Ministry is driven via social media and website engagement, and encourages transparent conversations that the Southerlands feel are often lacking in Christian communities; conversations centered on topics such as health, addiction, loss, relationships, and self-esteem.
Inked Ministry began when the Southerlands moved to North Georgia a little over two years ago. While the two had secular jobs in the area, they both felt as though there was “something more” God was calling them to do. That “something more” ended up hinging on the experiences Marianne had regarding her own tattoos.
“I understand the judgment felt when you walk into a room and see stares from across a restaurant,” she admits. “But I cannot even count the amount of times my tattoos have allowed me to be a witness to the most unexpected people in the most unexpected places.”
This relationship between tattoos and testimonies was the foundation for Inked Ministry. As Blake and Marianne began planning for the start of the business, they knew they wanted to accomplish three main goals. First, they wanted to create a space that would allow people to freely share their testimonies and be encouraged in their spiritual journey. Second, they hoped that those hearing the stories via social media or the Inked Ministry website would be comforted by connection with others or hear the gospel, perhaps, for the first time. Finally, the Southerlands hoped that Inked Ministry would expose people to the beauty of tattoos, and combat stereotypes in a way that helped people break free of what Marianne calls “unhealthy religion.”
While Marianne’s education at Campbell’s business school prepared her in a practical way to start and manage Inked Ministry, she explains that the benefit of her Campbell education reaches far beyond logistics. “The most valuable thing I learned from Campbell is the ability to lead with a servant’s heart.”
Now, just three months after Inked Ministry’s official launch, the hopes that the Southerland’s had for the impact of Inked Ministry are already being realized. Marianne explains that the feedback they have received from followers regarding the freedom and openness they have experienced via Inked Ministry’s featured stories has been incredible.
“It moves you to tears, and it confirms for us that everything God has called us to do for His kingdom is real, and it changes lives.”
To learn more about Inked Ministry, find them on Instagram @inkedministry, on Facebook and YouTube at Inked Ministry, or visit their Inked Ministry website.
Inked Ministry is part of the Orange Owned network. Orange Owned works to connect alumni with businesses owned and operated with fellow Camels. To learn more about Orange Owned or to find an Orange Owned business near you, please visit our web page.