BOSS LADY of DORK: Inside Life
I’m a female apprenticing tattoo shop owner. It’s an interesting area of life to be in—along the way I’ve learned some things that are humbling, humiliating and enlightening. I’d like to think everything I’ve learned—and currently learning—can be adapted into other facets of life. Maybe I’ll write a book on the zen of being the boss lady of DORK, but for now, here’s a sneak peak into the life of an apprenticing (female) tattoo artist and business owner.
It’s What You Make It
I’m a baby to the world of tattooing, but I’ve been around it for 5 years, and apprenticing for about 3. I’ve been very fortunate, my boyfriend was tattooing when I met him, and has been for 11 years. Don’t brush me off though with the “oh her boyfriend helped her”, he’s had my back and supported me, but his expectations of me have always been higher than even what I had for myself, so I always have to push myself. It’s hard to convince a stranger that someone you care about is the shit, therefore I have to be the best I can be. Personally, I wouldn’t want it any other way, I never wanted handicaps, and still don’t.
My apprenticeship has not been the typical, I co-own a shop now, and I’ve begun tattooing. I’ve heard some horror stories of how apprentices are not able to tattoo until many years later, they do the scummy work, and certainly don't own their own shop. I remember being humiliated in Memphis at a tattoo shop that my boyfriend worked at, not in a disrespectful way, but just by having others expect a certain standard from me that I had no idea how to achieve. Thus, I went home at the end of the day feeling strangely confused and wondering if I forgot to do something. I tried to go in the next day, and indirectly, was asked not to.
In tattooing, if the ones above you say you’re ready, than you’re ready. It’s a field that requires you to stay on your toes and become ‘disciplined’. In some cases, you're given a great opportunity, it's what you decide to do in that time that makes it worth while.
Being the owner of a shop, though, is another story.
Keep a Positive Mind
The DORK Tattoo Parlour has been open for only about a month, and the strange occurrences and tricky situations have never ceased. They probably never will, and that’s why it’s so important to keep your head on straight while remaining in a positive state of mind. I’ve learned that some people are like energy sapping vampires, others are like the Niagara Falls—always giving and giving. Without trying my best to remain leveled, too much of either or could be a disaster.
A person that zaps your energy could be someone who is always down; always negative; stuck in their own emotions and life problems. They will try to force you to swallow the pill of their misery. Misery loves company, right? This is clearly not a good place to be, not only for a business owner, but as a human being. Why? Because it hinders forward thinking, it slows you down and it makes you emotionally drained. How can I greet a new customer, or come up with some new flash, if I’m thinking about how crappy someone's day has gone. It’s going to be difficult to move on with my own day, while listening to someone elses misery, and that should never happen.
On the other hand, there are those who love to give and provide for you. They do it for good reasons, but I’ve realized, for a business owner, this is also not a good place to be in. First of all, it creates a dependency that you’d probably be better off not having. Having help is okay, everyone needs help sometimes, but getting into the habit of taking and taking is toxic. The solution: create a way to trade skills or resources. That way you’re building something great, you’re both happy and keeping a positive mindset.
Show What You Mean
Show me with your actions—I’ll show you what I mean with my behavior. Words are great, but it doesn’t have any substance if there’s no energy behind them. It’s very, very important to me, that if I passionately say I’m going to do something in my life, that I actually do it. If I write on this blog that something is going to happen, than I hope you believe that it’s truly in motion of happening. Since becoming a business owner, I expect the same from everyone I talk to. I’ve experienced that with being your own boss, the time you have to care or not—to wait or not wait—is very tricky, and often very limited.
If actions are not made within a reasonable time and followed up, then to me, you’ve faded away. That’s not to say that person is disliked, or not a good person, it’s just that things are always moving and changing, and if someone cannot, or refuses to keep up than let the wave of life wash them in another direction. This shouldn’t mean the relationship is ruined, it just means it wasn’t the right time, or the right person to be with.
I may be a baby to tattooing, but I’ve certainly been surrounded by the ways of business all my life. I was raised by some OG’s in business, and that certainly keeps me motivated.
In terms of being an apprentice and co-running a shop, there’s a weird balance I have to maintain, between expecting someone to achieve what I wish for them to achieve while working for me, and showing them what I need them to be while working alongside them.
It’s Never Over
Milestone reached, ah I’ve made it—we started from the bottom, now we made it. It took me awhile to come to the conclusion that there is no making it. Isn’t that depressing? It’s really not, it’s exciting! ...well at least to me. I think if a person thinks they’ve reached the peak in their career, then they might as well just stop. Because that’s what they’re doing, they’re killing their career.
Like Grand Theft Auto 5 online, there’s always another level (yes, I made a video game reference). I want to be that person that’s level 8,000, like what, how did they even achieve that? I don’t want to be the person throwing rocks, if tanks and jets with missiles are available. I’m trying to get that polka dot mushroom, so I can become gigantic...okay you get the point. This is where I’m at right now as an apprentice with a shop! It’s not over, I’m literally just beginning. DORK is just beginning.
Doree x DORK