Vanessa Hartman was recently awarded the title of Rising Star in DaySmart’s 2021 Small Business Brilliance Awards. This recognition celebrates the business accomplishments Vanessa has achieved using InkBook software in the short time of its deployment, putting InkBook to work to drive impressive results during a particularly challenging time.
A social media enthusiast whose only experience in the tattoo industry was getting tattooed herself, Vanessa launched The INDIGO Experience to help artists run more efficient and service-friendly businesses. Starting as a one-woman show, she’s since grown her team and manages clients across the country.
Q: To start, we’d love to learn a little more about your business. What inspired the idea behind it?
A: I started The INDIGO Experience with the intention of offering social media marketing for small businesses and solo entrepreneurs in the services industry. I then met a tattoo artist who hated social media and turned him into my first client. Working with him, I quickly realized there was a big disparity between what clients wanted from artists and what kind of work artists actually wanted to do. For example, clients will go into any tattoo shop asking for a design that’s bright and colorful, when really the artist they approached specializes in line work—but without seeing the artist’s portfolio ahead of time, the client wouldn’t know that.
The problem is, tattoo artists are typically too overwhelmed to focus on building an online presence. After tattooing clients for 10+ hours a day, the last thing they want to do is comb social media and respond to messages. That’s frustrating from the client-side if you’re trying to get in touch to learn more about a studio. As a solution, I provide virtual assistance to artists and their businesses.
If I was going to emphasize one thing to an artist interested in working with me, it’s that INDIGO provides the support they need to do what they love and focus on creating amazing works of art. We do that by handling the inbound messages and service requests, information collection, scheduling, and by working closely with their customers to ensure an amazing experience for our artists and their clients from beginning to end.
Q: What inspired you to start using InkBook?
A: At first, I was scheduling clients’ appointments through all different platforms. Some used iCalendar, others preferred Google Calendar. This was difficult to manage, so I started looking for a more comprehensive program. Coincidentally, my friend is a hairstylist who uses Salon Iris, so she called the DaySmart customer service team to ask if I could repurpose the software for tattooing and they told us about InkBook.
I license individual accounts for myself and each client, which I then manage for them to set up consultations and tattoo appointments. I made it non-negotiable for my clients to use InkBook at the start of last year. Some resisted at first, but now everyone’s on board after seeing how tremendously beneficial the program is for business. InkBook encompasses all the other software programs I’d been trying to manage previously. I can’t express enough the level of ease it affords my team.
Q: Which InkBook features do you use?
A: I use the digital appointment book for scheduling and the client profiles for storing photos and keeping notes. I also use the automatic text confirmations for every meeting I make with clients. Two of the artists I represent love the dashboard feature for themselves so they can predict their income and ensure they’re on track with annual goals.
Q: How has the pandemic impacted your business?
A: I panicked when business shut down in March because what I do can be considered a downstream luxury. I anticipated being let go when clients start cutting back on expenses. Instead, because clients had so many appointments they needed to reschedule while studios were closed, I was busier than ever. In the best of times, clients love the work-life balance I can provide them with, and so during the pandemic especially artists realize how universally applicable what INDIGO does is. This time has also changed my perspective on how I interact with clients. I’ve had to communicate more frequently with them throughout the past year, which strengthened our relationships and made them feel less transactional.