Can you get a piercing on your arm? Does that mean you can’t go to college?” the young man explained.
“The tattoo is a part of the experience,” says Lila. “I don’t want to erase anyone’s experience, but there’s also a lot of stigma surrounding that, and I think what they’re saying is that, if we don’t see the value in tattoos, then maybe we don’t need them [anymore] — this would make the experience of getting a tattoo feel more meaningful.”
The students wanted to do something different from most tattoo parlors in town. They decided to sell a “special experience” for $100, allowing prospective tattooed shoppers to get a feel of tattoos’ value before committing to a purchase. They were able to meet with several people who expressed their interest in the service, including one student from Washington State University who had just had a two-inch, 6-carat rose painted on her hand. “That was so much fun, that little rose,” Lila recalls. “The next thing you know, I’m getting a phone call — ‘Can you pick my son up at the airport?’ ‘Yes! Can I come pick him up?’ ‘Okay, we’ll have to charge you.”
With one final goal in mind, the students sold the company’s website to an online advertising firm. Within a week, the website reached 20,000 unique visitors, with customers coming from all over the country. It was like an instant success, says Lila, who still considers the launch to be “more of a miracle than a success.”
“I’m so proud of the people involved with the company,” she says and adds, “I see this as a turning point for tattooing.”
“I never dreamed it would get to this point,” Lila concludes.
“We were trying to figure out how can we be as accessible as possible with our customer base and get as many tattoos for a reasonable price?” O’Connell says.
“It just seemed like a good fit for us, and it became an opportunity,” Lila adds.
That’s not to say getting ink might be the new trend. O’Connell agrees that there has always been a need for alternative to tattooing but believes current tattoo shops have a “fear factor … a fear factor that can turn someone off.” He doesn’t believe that means tattoo shops must necessarily decline their approach.
“This is so much easier
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