Mark Cropp, 19, was serving a two-year, three-month sentence for pulling a knife during a botched drug deal in New Zealand. He had to leave his partner and young daughter behind while he served his time.
One night, in the jail cell he shared with his brother, the pair became heavily intoxicated on homemade alcohol made from fermented apples, bread, and sugar. In a deep haze, Mark and his brother decided to tattoo his nickname on his face using ink made of toothpaste and melted plastic knives and forks.
The following morning, the resulting tattoo — a giant black inking that reads “Devast8” across his jaw and lower half of his face — quickly became one of the biggest regrets of Mark’s life.
Two months after his release from jail, Mark was an unemployed father on a frantic job search. Employers were instantly turned off by his tattoo. Despite his previous work experience, no one would offer him a job.
He desperately wanted the tattoo removed, but couldn’t find or afford anyone willing to help with the arduous task, which would require many hours of laser removal sessions.
With nowhere else to turn, Mark took to Facebook and posted a selfie revealing his controversial tattoo in all its glory. His public plea for a job and fresh start quickly went viral.
That’s when staff at an Auckland-based tattoo parlor, Sacred Tattoo, noticed Mark’s Facebook post and decided to commit themselves to an incredible act of kindness.