In yet another industry that has been hit hard by the pandemic, it seems unlikely that any new tattoo shops would be opening up around town.
Yet despite being out of work for much of the past year, two local women, Ines Silva and Genevieve Bethley, have established a new tattoo shop in downtown Kitchener -- a shop they hope will stand out from the crowd.
“Right now it's a very open space, and that was something we really wanted: a place that's light, where people can feel safe,” Silva said. “It’s not your typical tattoo shop that is super hard and heavy and loud. We painted the walls a sage green colours, so it's more calming.”
Gauntlet Tattoo is located on 150 King St. W, across the street from Bobby O’Briens.
“It's a 90-year-old building that used to be a bank. Like, our supply closet is an old vault. There's so much old time charm to this place, it just feels good,” Bethley said.
Beyond the aesthetic of the shop, they want to offer a different kind of vibe than a lot of shops in the area, by collaborating with other tattoo artists.
“I don't see other artists as competition. Everyone has their own style, everyone has their own strengths,” Bethley said. “I think we should come together more as a community. And we want to give off more of that energy opposed to being like, ‘Well, no, like, we're the only shop that matters.’”
They plan to have a spot open for travelling tattoo artists who want to work, and another spot for artists who want to work with them on a more regular basis by renting out a chair space.
This idea of acting more like a collective than competitors is what initially started them on the path to opening their own shop.
The pair met working at Power House Tattoos in Kitchener.
Before opening Gauntlet, the pair had only worked 40 days this year because of the never-ending lockdowns, and Silva, who moved here from Portugal, was unable to get CERB because she only received her permanent residency last year and hadn’t filed her taxes yet.
After such a difficult year, they jumped at the chance to open the shop when their friend offered to invest.
“A friend of ours overheard us talking about wanting to start looking into opening our own shop and starting a new future for ourselves as a team,” Bethley said. “She was looking to invest some money, so she asked us how much we would need.”
“The opportunity was like a now or never sort of thing,” Bethley said. “I don't know if we would ever have anything similar to that just fall in our laps.”
They started booking viewings for different commercial spaces around the region, and ended up falling in love with the first one they booked -- which is where the shop is now.
While they are wary that there might be another lockdown that prevents them from working, as of right now, things seem to be going pretty well.
The shop only opened last Wednesday, but they are already busy with appointments.
“We're pretty fortunate right now that we have such a good client base. We're both pretty pretty booked ahead, which is good,” Silva said.
Gauntlet Tattoo is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays
You can find out more or book appointments by visiting them on Instagram at @gauntlet.tattoo, @ineznebulatattoos, or @gennykat.