By Eric Dehm
Boyd Renner never considered getting a tattoo during his 28 years serving in the Navy. Not when he joined in 1988, not when he retired 28 years later as a Warrant Officer from Naval Special Warfare Development Group, also known as DEVGRU and more commonly as SEAL Team 6.
So it might seem odd for him to co-found a company that operates within the world of body art, but that’s exactly what he’s done with Everence. Renner and the crew at Everence have teamed with scientists, doctors and tattoo artists to develop a way to insert DNA and other materials, like sand or plant mater, into existing or new tattoos.
It may sound like science-fiction, but it’s very real and starts of with a simple saliva sample, similar to 23andMe. Through that sample they extract a non-coding strand of DNA, amplify it and then using a patented process to get it ready to put under a person’s skin. They can do the same with the plant matter and sand, though obviously skipping the DNA extraction process.
“We encapsulate it in a polymer,” Renner explained during a recent appearance on The Morning Briefing. “It’s the same polymer that’s in a hip replacement or contact lenses or dermafillers… and we micronize it to a point that it stays in the dermis exactly like the ink does. So it’s so small and so perfectly circle that the body doesn’t attack it as a foreign body.”
Renner believes this new technology will make tattoos more attractive to a new audience by adding a new level of personalization. Partially, because he now has his first tattoos planned.
First up will be a tribute to his wife, who is battling Cystic Fibrosis and he says is the most “badass” person he’s ever met.
His second will be related to what he calls the most important mission he went on as a member of SEAL Team 6. In 2005, then Senior Chief Renner was the senior enlisted member of the team that recovered the bodies of his fellow SEALs killed during Operation Red Wings.
“For some reason when the last body flew away, when that helicopter took off and we’re getting our brothers home for their families,” Renner recalled. “I took a handful of sand and I put it in my ziploc bag I had in my cargo pocket.”
That sand, like his wife’s DNA, will soon be a part of Boyd Renner, who says he’s hoping to hear many similar stories in the coming days as more people become aware of Everence and the possibilities it offers for remembrance.
The full Morning Briefing interview with CWO4 (Ret.) Renner is below. In it, he talks his time on Team 6, his transition to civilian life, and how the idea for Everence came to be.
Stream the interview audio by pressing “play” or click the share button and select “download” from the menu options to save and listen later.