Opening a Tattoo Shop: Everything You Need To Know

August 09, 2019

opening a tattoo shop

Is tattoo art more than a passion? Has it become your life’s work? Does the thought of taking the lead on marketing, running, maintaining a tattoo shop leave you feeling excited and motivated? If the answer is yes, then opening a tattoo shop might be for you.

If you have completely immersed yourself in the tattoo community and feel driven to open your own shop, you’re in the right place. We’ve created a guide to get your new tattoo business started. Read on to find out how.

Opening a Tattoo Shop

There’s more to owning a tattoo shop than just tattooing. The experience starts with a consultation with your customer. Much of a tattoo artist’s time is spent speaking with the customer and coming to an agreement on the art piece.

Consider how much more customer interaction will be required once you own the shop. This includes resolving grievances and maintaining professionalism throughout. There are a lot of responsibilities involved in becoming a shop owner.

Another option is to run the core aspects of the business and leave the tattooing to the artists. This depends on your personal preference.

There is a lot to consider when starting and running a tattoo business. Either way, you must have a strong affinity to the community.

You can make connections and also gain useful knowledge by joining communities such as the National Tattoo Association or similar groups. They can be a great resource when learning the ropes.

Master Your Art & Industry

If you are going to start your own shop, make sure you get well-trained first. Not just in tattooing itself, but also in running a tattoo business. You can do this as a novice tattoo artist by becoming an apprentice.

There’s more to running a business than just providing a service you know you’re good at. You can get your feet wet without all the responsibility by working at an established shop first.

If you aren’t an artist yourself but would like to own a shop. Consider partnering with a seasoned tattooist who knows the industry. You’ll still want to do a lot of research to learn everything you can about the specific niche.

opening a tattoo shop

Let’s Get Down to Tattoo Business

A tattoo shop is just like any business. It’s going to require a comprehensive plan that includes the same basic foundations. If you’ve already worked in a tattoo shop, then you know a lot goes into the administrative side of things.

You will need to hire employees who are other artists and customer service support for answering the phone and scheduling appointments. Get help from a professional accountant to track expenses and earnings. This will make it easier to file taxes properly with the IRS.

Determine overhead expenses such as utilities and salaries to calculate the cost of opening and running your shop. If you can’t hire an accountant, then you can still find business software to help you. There is some software that is specific to tattoo businesses.

Finding software that is built around a tattoo business will make your life easier, as it already has a foundation built to get started on tracking appointments, expenses, and revenue.

You probably already suspected that there are legal requirements for owning a tattoo business. Make sure all of your permits and licenses are in order. In fact, it is recommended to hire an attorney for your own protection.

The AAA Tattoo Directory is a great place to start. It offers a full listing of states and their tattoo regulations including health and safety concerns. You must follow the laws of your state if you are going to have a successful business.

Choose Your Shop

Your tattoo shop is going to require a specific layout in order for your business to run. This is very specific to a tattoo shop, so in some cases, the location you choose might not have everything you need. For example, partitions, sinks, or other sanitary requirements.

Just because your perfect location isn’t fully equipped doesn’t mean you can’t make it work. You may be able to negotiate changes to the place with the owner if you plan on renting. These additional costs will need to be factored into your agreement before signing a contract.

You will also need to add it to your expenses as part of the business plan.

Other factors for the location should be the amount of traffic outside the shop. It might be more expensive to choose a location that is downtown, but it will also mean more visibility from potential customers.

Once the location is chosen. You get to have fun with your space as you furnish and decorate it. Things like lighted tracing tables, reclining chairs, large mirrors, and supply carts will be needed for each station. Along with all the intricate tattoo supplies.

Some shops choose to sterilize their tools using an autoclave. Others will use disposable tools. You will have to determine which is right for your business.

You’re also going to need the basics like computers, printers, paper, general office supplies, and a phone.

Complete your shop by creating your tattoo shop’s brand. You can do this with art on the walls, paint, and furniture.

opening a tattoo shop

Build Hype for Your Shop

Before you get tattooing, you’re going to need to build the hype. Start marketing your shop about 30 to 60 days prior to the grand opening. The sooner you can start spreading the word, the better.

You can market using paid advertisement on the radio, through flyers, and across social media platforms. You can purchase digital ads to run locally and spread the word to a specific demographic.

There’s always old fashioned word of mouth too. Encourage people to rate your shop on social media as well as like and share posts. You can offer promotions for your opening day or other discounts as incentives.

Be prepared to support the number of clients you expect to serve. This means determining how many employees you will need to run your business. Usually, one or two professionally trained tattoo artists are recommended, depending on the size of your shop.

Opening a Tattoo Shop Overview

Opening a tattoo shop isn’t going to be easy, but you can do it with the right tools. Once you start taking the steps listed above, we know you’ll be on your way to a successful business.

Want to learn more about growing your tattoo business? Check out our blog to gain even more insights.

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