Black Ink Crew Compton’s Lemeir Mitchell on Fatherhood and His New Vegan Venture
Mitchell is most known for displaying his talent as a tattoo artist on VH1’s Black Ink Crew Compton. As his fans know, he is a new business owner, and most importantly a new father to a beautiful baby girl.
Happy Ice, Mitchell’s new business, sells an ice cream alternative. His treat is a vegan, water ice mix made without egg, dairy, or nut products. The result is a colorful concoction designed to bring happiness to any situation.
Read on to learn more about how he balances his art, business, and fatherhood.
How did you get your start in the tattoo business?
I got my start in the tattoo business by just going for it. I am a self-taught tattooist. I came from a rough neighborhood in Philadelphia, and I got in trouble multiple times in my younger years. I wanted out of that life. One day while walking home, a friend came up to me to sell all his tattoo equipment for $50. With my last $50 I made from cleaning family members’ houses, I bought the equipment. I got home, cleaned the equipment, and called a friend over. That night I tattooed a Famous Stripe and Stars-themed half sleeve on him. From that moment on, I studied my craft diligently by watching YouTube videos and drawing consistently until I became great. It’s been a fun journey.
What motivated you to start Happy Ice?
What motivated me to start Happy Ice was my desire to making it for myself to eat. When I moved to LA, my initial goal wasn’t to open Happy Ice, but I just couldn’t get this type of product here. I grew up on this type of product since I was a kid. So I went from wanting to be a consumer to becoming an owner and introducing Los Angeles to my childhood dessert. When starting the company, my artist ways took over. I saw so many opportunities to make the experience unforgettable. I created a recipe distinct to me and branding that caught everyone’s attention. This became my new tattoo canvas.
What led you to implement a storefront for Happy Ice?
We wanted our own commissary kitchen instead of sharing. Commissary kitchens cost the same amount as storefronts. Our idea became a possibility when the previous tenants of the building where we parked our truck were moving out. My wife was inside the truck the moment they were moving out. She called me instantly to tell me the “happy” news. This seemed to be a God-sent opportunity and we jumped right on it. So, we now have a storefront opening in the exact location we’ve already established for Happy Ice.
Congrats on the new baby. How do you balance the responsibilities of being a new father and a business owner?
When we first found out my wife was pregnant, we were excited and nervous because we had a lot going on, and it did not seem like the best time. Now that our child is here, the timing couldn’t be better. Having my daughter made me a better businessman Lemeir instantly. Fatherhood has pushed me in the direction of creating a structure for my company and trusting it. Before this, I had my hands in everything and never had time. Now, I’ve structured the company, and I have more time than ever before. I’ve been finding the balance more and I have my daughter to thank for that push.
What moment from your childhood would you say shapes the father you are and plan to be?
Growing up with my Uncle Joey has shaped the father I am today. My dad was sentenced to life in prison when I was 11 years old. From that moment, I was out of control and my mom could not handle me. She made a hard, but great decision to let my Uncle Joey take custody of me. He gave me all the tools I needed to survive in this world. He raised me and always reminded me of the quote, “Do unto others as you want done unto you.” I still got into trouble a little during this time, but when I stepped out into the real world by myself, all the things he instilled in my mind started presenting themselves. Instantly, I realized how many valuable lessons he taught me. From there I held on tight to his voice as I started my journey into the world and became the Lemeir Mitchell everyone knows today.
Keep up with Lemeir, his family, and Happy Ice by tuning in to Black Ink Compton on VH1 Wednesday evenings at 10/9c. If you’re ever in LA, make sure you stop by Happy Ice.
Written by D. Lewis Cole