How To Open a Tattoo Shop – The Full Guide

Jul 20 — 5 mins read

For some people, tattoos are more than just a way to express themselves and are a passion that they want to pursue as a career. One such avenue to explore is the prospect of opening up your own Tattoo Shop. While it’s not easy, requiring dedication, skill, and some business savvy, a tattoo shop can be both a lucrative opportunity as well as bring immense job satisfaction.

Getting started is not easy, however, and there are plenty of things to consider. Below then, we have put together this guide to learn how to open a tattoo shop. We’ve also given some extra tips on how you might expand your business operations to make even more money from your passion.

Step 1. Perfect your skills

Before venturing out on your own and setting up shop, it’s important to make sure you’re on the top of your tattoo game. While running a tattoo shop doesn’t necessarily require you to be a tattoo artist yourself, it certainly helps. Some of the world’s most successful tattoo parlors are run by tattooists themselves who understand the intricacies of the job and understand what makes customers tick.

At this juncture and f you aren’t already a tattoo artist, you have two options:

  1. Become an apprentice or develop your skills: A hands-on tattoo shop owner can often prove to be beneficial so either becoming an apprentice under someone else’s tutelage or working in an existing tattoo shop will give you valuable hands-on experience.

  1. Partner up: Just as a bakery store owner may not necessarily need to know how to bake bread, you don’t strictly need to be a tattoo aficionado or artist to run a shop. Instead, you will need to form partnerships and recruit tattoo experts who can help handle the hands-on side of things while you run the business end.

Step 2. Do your research

As with any type of new enterprise, you’re going to need to draw up a sound business plan. This will require conducting a lot of research and is often the first stumbling block for those interested in learning how to open a tattoo shop.

First things first, you’re going to need to learn what permits, regulations, and certifications exist in your part of the world. In the US, for example, you can look up specific state laws and licensing requirements that you will need to be aware of prior to opening your shop. In Georgia, for example, it is still illegal to tattoo within an inch of someone’s eye socket. Staying on the right side of your locale’s laws and regulations is vital and should form part of your overall business plan.

You will also want to do your research on the area you intend to open up shop. There is no point in opening up a tattoo shop with no prospective clientele so conducting market research early during this process is vital. If you think you’ve found a good location, check out the costs of running a business in the area including building leases, average employee wages, and material costs. It’s important to leave no stone unturned here and establish the real cost of business in your country or state.

Some commercial banks and professional business advisors can help streamline this entire process and help you develop expansion goals and revenue targets that will keep your business afloat. With this business plan developed, you can then secure any business loans or other sources of funding should you need it.

Step 3. Set up shop

With your business plan established, it’s time to find a suitable shop and begin kitting it out.

While a tattoo shop doesn’t necessarily require an enormous amount of equipment, there are some basics you’ll want to acquire and install. These may be mandated by law or just make working a lot easier, meaning more turnover and a more successful tattoo shop. These include:

  • Sinks
  • Toilet facilities
  • Tattoo tables and beds
  • Tattoo artist trays
  • A range of inks, needles, and accessories
  • Aftercare products

Shining Light has been supplying the tattoo industry with wholesale supplies for many years, becoming the go-to supplier of inks, needles, accessories, and everything else you need to run a successful tattoo shop. With no minimum order requirement, they can cater to businesses both big and small.

If you’re leasing or renting the shop, also be sure to get permission before making any significant changes to the shop to avoid trouble ahead. You’ll then want to furnish and decorate your store with a style that will suit the target demographics you identified in your business plan.

Be sure to give your tattoo shop a sense of professionalism. Getting a tattoo is a significant moment for people and they want to feel assured that your tattoo shop is a legitimate operation. This means using high-quality lighting, proper decor, disposing of tools safely or having proper sterilizing equipment, and keeping things modern with online booking facilities now considered essential.

Step 4. Get the word out

Even with the best business plan and the most kitted-out tattoo shop, your business will fail if people don’t know about your services.

You will want to begin getting the word out about your tattoo shop prior to its grand opening using social media, paid advertising, flyers, and word of mouth. Offer discounts for initial customers to entice people in, giving further benefits to those who share and tag your tattoo shop online with friends and family.

You will want to establish a good online presence with a social media account set up for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and possibly TikTok. Not only should you use these to advertise services and special offers, but establish a brand for your tattoo shop and showcase your in-house talent, personalities, and day-to-day operations. Don’t worry about production values, people don’t expect slick videos and will be more interested in getting insights into the processes and techniques employed.

Digital ads on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are also essential to building a customer base and reputation. These can be tailor-made and targeted at very specific demographics with high engagement rates. If your budget allows for it, seek the help of a professional digital marketing expert who can create a plan for even better reach.

Step 5. Expand operations

With your tattoo shop set up and money rolling in, you may soon consider ways to expand operations. One such route is to offer other services such as body piercing which is a closely related industry to tattoos. Should your business grow significantly enough, you may also want to hire new staff or even open another branch. These goals should be carefully considered, however, with risks always weighed against potential rewards.

Another option is to sell body jewelry right in your store. As well as tattoo essentials, Shining Light has a wide range of body jewelry that can be bought wholesale, with no minimum order amount. We offer a scaling shipping service depending on your order quantity and use only approved carriers.


While setting up a tattoo shop is a lot of work, the ever-growing interest in tattoos makes it a viable business venture that is suitable in almost any location.