This is a big day for me (and Laura too!). Five years ago today on 7/7/07 Vintage Karma opened its doors, not so much with a bang but with a hesitant squeak. I had just left a bad situation at the shop I had been working at for four years and the other two artists that had been apprenticing there came along with me. We thought we were going to be the Three Musketeers and take over the tattoo world by storm and it was going to be this amazing creative explosion….. It didn’t quite go down that way.
My lack of confidence as a business owner combined with all of our different personality types made for a very crappy first 18 months. So after having to fire my best friend at the time and having the other guy walk shortly thereafter was like having to walk naked through a jeering crowd. I am not going to lie, I was miserable, I didn’t know what I was thinking taking on a business while still working full time at my day job at the bank. Meanwhile, my relationship was sinking like the horse stuck in the swamp in the “Neverending Story“. Also, I am not going to lie about this either, my tattoo work was pretty lame for someone who had been at it for over four years.
But getting out on my own gave me the chance to experiment and try different things that were downright forbidden where I trained. I was technically starting over at this period and through these early rocky years of VK, tattooing started to click with me. And it wasn’t until VK was just me that the business started to click as well.
Three years in I started to see real progress with my business and my work. My relationship was back on solid ground and stronger than ever. I think the main lesson I took from this time is that I needed to have the business be an honest reflection of who I am as a person and to not try and make it something that both it and I am not. A few more years went by and I built myself a pretty decent little clientele and a nice reputation. I was ready to take the next step…..so I proposed to Laura……Not that kind of proposal! I proposed to give her half of the stake in Vintage Karma. And she said YES! LOL!
Once we went in together, an amazing thing happened. While trying to figure out how to afford to expand the business in Stroudsburg the universe opened up and plopped Tuscola, IL right in the middle of our world. We could build this new concept we had, TOGETHER, from the ground up as an equal team! Not as Ainslie and Laura too (which was becoming the case in PA). So here we are, five years in, with the business back in its infancy yet again. But this time we won’t repeat the missteps from before. We will make new mistakes and work through them as a team. I am excited to see what the next few years bring us as we grow VK into new directions.