SIMSBURY — When 22-year-old Brittany Ashmore decided to open her own tattoo shop, she aimed to make the place not just welcoming, but stigma-breaking.
Ashmore opened Pins and Needles Tattoo, on Simsbury’s Hopmeadow Street, in early October.
Pins and Needles is the only tattoo shop in Simsbury, and Ashmore said she can’t remember there ever being another shop in town.
The Simsbury native decided in high school that she wanted her artwork to grace other people’s bodies, and she’d always hoped to open her own tattoo shop one day — but she didn’t expect it to happen so soon.
Ashmore had worked at an Enfield shop for two years when a Simsbury storefront owned by friends of her family became available.
“Our family friends were like, ‘Well, do you want to have the space?’ And I was like ‘Ya, might as well do it now while I’m young enough to take the chance.’ So I decided do it,” Ashmore said. “Things just kind of fell into place.”
Ashmore said she’s happy to be back in her hometown, after years of working 20 miles away.
“It’s just nice being over here because I know everyone,” Ashmore said. “I like the community aspect of it.”
But being the only shop in her hometown wasn’t enough for Ashmore. She also wanted her place to break stereotypes.
A lot of people think of tattoo shops as unsanitary, Ashmore said, which she rebuffs by pointing to her tattoo technician license and her shop’s health inspections.
Plus, Pins and Needles looks more like a spa than a hole in the hall. Although the space is small, it’s painted soothing colors and accented with simple wood shelving and molding. This time of year, the trendy wood slab front desk is decorated with a garland.
The “light and happy” design choices are intentional. Clients are often nervous about getting a tattoo, Ashmore said — and the “stereotypical,” “dark and scary” shop can worsen those fears. But Ashmore wanted to make everyone, including her mostly female clientele, feel at ease.
Getting a tattoo is “already a scary experience because it’s painful and it is going on permanently,” she said. “Being in a place that makes you comfortable before you actually get that kind of stuff done is … more peaceful, [a] better experience.”
So far, the approach seems to be working. Ashmore said she averages one or two appointments per day, each of the six days a week the shop is open, which is about the pace she’d hoped to maintain.
In the spring, Ashmore said, Pins and Needles will increase its client base by expanding to piercing as well. With that expansion, Ashmore’s place will be not just the only tattoo shop in town, but the only piercing shop as well.
Emily Brindley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.