The monks who are making a mint out of ink
Benedictines show how to make an e-business boom
- Paula Doyle for The Tidings
- United States
- December 5, 2013
Throughout history, monks have been linked to ink, penning beautiful calligraphy in books and illuminating manuscripts.
The Benedictine monks at St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, located in California’s high desert 90 minutes northeast of Los Angeles, have updated the ink connection for today’s digital age with their new venture, MonksInk, an online ink and toner business.
Since its launching in 2011, MonksInk.com, the monks’ online store offering brand name and remanufactured ink and toner cartridges, has tripled the number of its customers hailing from corporations, dioceses and schools nationwide. This year, it has more than tripled its sales revenue, with sales doubling in just the last six months.
Benedictine Father Joseph Brennan, abbey prior, credited the surge to recently targeted marketing efforts to Catholic dioceses and schools as well as customer interest in ordering ink and toner cartridges from a monastery instead of an impersonal big box office supply store.
“People are intrigued when they hear about it,” said Father Brennan. “They want to support the abbey and the monastery. So many people across the country have been educated by Benedictines.”
Out of MonksInk’s more than 1,000 customers, approximately 220 regularly purchase their ink and toner supplies through MonksInk, either calling the toll free customer service line or placing orders via the website, which features pictures of the monks engaging in their life of prayer and outreach.
Originally founded in China in 1929 by Benedictines from the Abbey of Sint Andries Zevenkerken in Brugge, Belgium, St. Andrew’s Abbey relocated to Valyermo in 1955 after being expelled by the communists three years earlier.
Brother Peter Zhou Bangjiu, one of the monks at the Benedictine community in China in the early ’50s who was imprisoned for his faith and reunited with his brethren 25 years later in Valyermo, is the sole surviving monk from China. He is the oldest of the abbey’s 20 monks, ranging in age from 38 to 87, who follow the 1,500-year-old Rule of St. Benedict.
Source: The Tidings