In 2008, I was a product of the decline of the economy. Working for the top travel company in the world, as a manager at a call center, I was laid off. I had always maintained management positions, but in the declining economy, with 20 years of management experience, and no college degree, I found myself collecting unemployment, scrambling to get whatever training I could to keep afloat. I had always been into art, and with my husband being a seasoned tattooist, I leaned on him to teach me the trade, just as something part time until the "big job" came through. I was up for a position with the St. Louis Science Center, as the director of the call center, and with 4000+ candidates, I was shocked to be in the top 2. When I was denied the position only because I had no degree, and the other candidate had a 2 year degree in "Not for profit" agencies... I was frustrated. I decided to commit to being a tattooer. I cashed in what 401K I had and bought the equipment and began focusing my efforts on being good in the art world. My husband (we're separated) helped me buy a shop, because I decided I wanted to create a better tattoo environment for women, and families, due to the overwhelming boom in the tattoo industry. I saw a need for a shop, where you could feel welcome, and bring your family in, and where women were the artists taking care of your tattooing needs. I wanted to create a cleaner image for the industry, and give women a chance to get involved. In a male dominated industry, where you had to be "18 to enter" and nudity and smut were the norm, I wanted to change the perception of tattooing. So I began cleaning up an existing shop I had purchased that had a less than desirable reputation. I started hiring predominately female staff, and having them trained by one of the great legendary tattoo artists in our area. I demanded a more friendly, empathetic staff, that could handle a variety of styles of tattooing, but whose main goal was to give beautiful art, and provide the best service and consulting possible. 3 years later, with steady increases in profits of 20-25% yearly, with a huge clientele that are loyal to our name and art, I have managed to stand the test of time. All of this has been done without one dime going to advertising expenses. Through word of mouth, and social networking, we have become one of the shops that come highly recommended. We are in a small town, in Warrenton, MO, but people drive 1-3 hours each way to come get work from us, due to our value and family friendly atmosphere. We tattoo women in their 70s-80s... people who swore they would never get a tattoo, or until now never thought there was a place that would cater to their needs. When I was laid off in 2008, I never dreamed I could be doing a dream job where I meet the most amazing people and do a job that will never seem like a job to me. I create art and put it on people that will last forever. I will always share a bond with these people. In the past year, I have been able to open a small "local art gallery" as well, offering my pinstriping art, along with art from local artists in the community so they too can get the startup they need to become a successful small business entrepreneur. All of this was possible, because of a bad turn in the economy, and my refusal to be a part of it. Losing that great travel job turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.
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