Female tattooist fights against sexism in the industry

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Determined entrepreneur Charmaine Roberts has faced many obstacles in her path, but her recent battle with cancer hasn’t stopped her from concentrating on the future of her firm – Tattoo Boutique.

The 30-year-old has just returned to business after taking some time away to beat breast cancer, and now she is ready to start a new year and eager to get back to what she loves most – tattooing.

Next year will mark the three-year anniversary of when Charmaine opened the doors to the first all-female tattoo studio in Langley Mill. And the business has gone from a relatively unknown studio to a popular hub for creativity, which not only offers tattoos, but piercing, clothes and artwork.

She said: “Unfortunately there is still discrimination in the tattoo industry. It seems to be dominated by men.

“In the past I have had clients refuse to have me work on them because I am female – I thought it was about time I tried to fight it.”

Charmaine, who estimates 60 per cent of her body is covered in tattoos, has always been interested in art, and took a shine to becoming a tattooist aged just ten.

“I’ve always been interested in tattoos from a very young age and knew I would have lots myself when I was older,” she said.

“I guess I really got interested in them when my mum had a bit of a mid-life crisis and had her first tattoo. I went with her and I loved everything about them straight away.”

After her first introduction to tattoos, Charmaine heavily pursued art.

She attended art college for four years and then went on to complete a three-year apprenticeship with a tattoo studio.

After working a various studios with different artists, she decided it was time to take the plunge and go it alone.

She continued: “I learnt so much from the apprenticeship and from working with different people – it was priceless but my dream was to open my own studio.

“I wanted to prove I could do it by myself and just decided that I had nothing to lose!”

And then she went for it. She opened up Tattoo Boutique on Station Street, which is open to both male and female clients.

“We welcome both genders to the parlour as long as they are happy to be tattooed by a woman,” said Charmaine.

“But even now there is still a stigma attached to female artists. I still have people that don’t believe I could be the owner and the tattooist and I hear people say ‘Oh I wouldn’t go to a female tattooist’, but it doesn’t bother me anymore.

“I enjoy what I do, my customers trust me and that’s all that matters.
“But I will continue to voice my opinion on gender equality and hope that people can listen and move with the times. My work is on the walls – and on our customers – that is what I should be judged on, nothing else.”

Charmaine specialises in colour work, custom pieces, realism and cover-ups. Much of her work has been featured in tattoo magazines and at tattoo conventions.

The studio offers tattooing services in a professional and relaxed environment.

“I have tried to create somewhere that has a calming environment so my clients will feel relaxed and comfortable,” she said.

“It is bright and airy and customers will always get a warm welcome. I’ve decorated with a mix of modern and vintage furniture. I don’t believe a studio should be dark and scary – the experience can be daunting enough as it is.”

After a rollercoaster year Charmaine is very much looking forward to 2017.

She added: “Being diagnosed with cancer was a real low, but my customers were so understanding and have supported me through the battle.

“And now I’ve had the one-year all clear I want to get back to living. I’m so grateful to be able to do something I love as a career and I hope Tattoo Boutique continues to go from strength to strength.”

For more, visit www.facebook.com/charmaine.tattoo.