Tattoo Artist Mom Reinvents Herself With a Business That Brings Family & Art Together
by Michele Zipp
Once you're a mom, you know you can do anything you did before you were mom, but before you were a mom, you might have thought that wasn't the case. The title "mom" felt different back when your mom was the only mom between the two of you. Prepare yourself. This is going to be about mom power. Not just any mom power. A divorced mom of three kids who lost her job, leaving her unemployed and worried about how she was going to make ends meet kind of mom power. This mom did the unthinkable. She learned the art of tattooing and opened up a tattoo shop -- a family-friendly tattoo shop.
Now this doesn't mean tattoo artist Malissa Booth is tattooing kids or there's a daycare out front in the waiting room. But it does mean she approaches tattooing much like she approaches motherhood and created an environment to work in that she's very proud of and is quite unusual in the tattoo world.
"I wanted to take the smut and drama out of the image of a tattoo shop," said Booth, a single, 42-year-old mom of three teenagers. "I have children, and I didn't want to be embarrassed to bring my kids into my shop."
Love her. There are no naked lady paintings on the walls at Madame Voodoo's House of Ink in Warrenton, Missouri. She's friendly. Approachable. Easy to work with and design the perfect tattoo. "I think there is a maternal instinct in me that makes me want to look out for people," Booth said. "So when customers come in and want a ridiculous tattoo, I usually tell them to pick something that they would be proud of." Love her even more.
She wasn't always in the tattoo business. She worked at a travel agency but was laid off after the industry slumped. Booth admits she was angry and also worried about how she was going to take care of her family. Dozens of resumes went out but nothing was happening, so she decided to take a chance and change careers and learn tattooing. Interestingly, it was her ex who first taught her. And she also thought it would just be something she did in the interim until she found a different job, but she loved it. And her clients loved her. Beth Cirami was tattooed by Malissa and said, "She had that sensitivity to that reason why most people get tattoos. It is a very secret and spiritual experience." Which is why her clientele ranges from 80-year-olds getting their first tattoo to church leaders and doctors and lawyers. She wanted to create a tattoo shop that "feels safe and like family" and she did just that. "(Tattooing) is not a job. It's an adventure," she says. "I have no idea what each day brings and I like helping people, giving them beautiful works of art that they can be proud of."
I love moms with tattoos. (I have some, so of course I do.) I love mom entrepreneurs. It's very inspiring to hear stories like this. We could lose our jobs but never our spirits. We can reinvent ourselves, our careers. It's stories like Malissa's that show us anything is possible if we work hard enough at it. And we can take down stereotypes, too.
What do you think of Malissa's story?