One cut and one color: Calgary hair salon adds tattooing to service menu

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It’s tiny in size but huge in symbolic pride.

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The small red outline of a Canadian flag on Marilyn Douglas’ ankle is the result of five years of planning and waiting. It had been desired for a long time, but going to a tattoo parlor was not something the Calgary woman was willing to do.

“I’ve been thinking about this particular tattoo for about five years. I didn’t feel comfortable with other places. When I found out it was here, it made me want to jump in and do it. TO DO.

This refers to a new tattoo studio that has opened inside Angles Hair & Esthetics in the Brentwood shopping centre. Part of the reception area has been transformed into a glass-encased studio that allows hair salon and spa patrons to watch the process when the curtains are open.

“Frank (the parlor owner) lives in the same complex as me and when I heard about it I was interested. You have all these perceptions about tattoo parlors. It seemed better, safer and cleaner to me. There are so many positive things about it,” Douglas said.

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Angles Brentwood owners Frank and Donna Rizzuto, left, with tattoo artist Cherie Johnson at their new studio built inside the hair salon.
Angles Brentwood owners Frank and Donna Rizzuto, left, with tattoo artist Cherie Johnson at their new studio built inside the hair salon. .jpg

For the record, there are many health and hygiene regulations for tattoo shops and authorized dealers strictly adhere to them or they would not stay in business. But there are women, especially middle-aged ones, who are still uncomfortable going to see one.

Longtime Angles owner Francesco Rizzuto wanted to remove that stigma and provide an option for his clients and those who want a tattoo but are afraid to walk into a salon. While researching before committing to the plan, Rizzuto couldn’t find another example in Canada of a hair salon partnering with a tattoo company. Salon Magazine thinks he’s the first. It was therefore important for him to bring it to the fore in order to move away from the established tattoo culture.

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“I wanted to combine different art forms under one roof. It’s not about opening a tattoo studio per se, but about expanding our services. So many customers said they were interested but intimidated to go get a tattoo so I didn’t want to put it in the back room. I wanted to get him out of the basement. People want a cool tattoo but not necessarily all the tattoo culture that goes with it.

“Here, it’s just another form of art in the living room. Everywhere you look here, people are creating.

Marilyn Douglas shows off a tattoo of a maple leaf from the Brentwood Angles salon.
Marilyn Douglas shows off a tattoo of a maple leaf from the Brentwood Angles salon. .jpg

Lesia Hildebrandt was looking for a creative approach to designing a tattoo after recently losing one of her beloved dogs. She had planned to get a wrist tattoo with her husband and daughter, but it fell apart when she broke her hand. They continued without her. After her recovery, the Angles studio seemed to be a perfect fit for her, as she was already a longtime client.

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“There are so many places, so it’s hard to know where to go. When this place opened it was like kismet. It’s not intimidating, it’s a comfortable feeling.

Cherie Johnson was Angles’ tattoo artist from its opening until recently. She left for medical reasons and was replaced by Drew O’Neill of Drooz Tattoos. Johnson said the studio appealed to salon clients because it was such a familiar environment. About half of the more than 20 customers it had since it opened in March were salon customers. And it’s a mixed bag when it comes to what they want.

“It’s 50/50 if they’re very sure of their idea or if they’re looking for help. We sit down and review. I’ve had people bring me their own artwork, it’s very popular. I have been asked for medical alert bracelets and memorial tattoos. Even ‘the mustard man’, whatever, and the sour patch kids.

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Rachael Romero shows off her newly tattooed ring finger done by Cherie Johnson at the Brentwood Angles show.
Rachael Romero shows off her newly tattooed ring finger done by Cherie Johnson at the Brentwood Angles show. .jpg

Rachael Romero was at the mall’s pet food store when she saw the sign. Newly married, she had thought of getting a tattoo on her finger instead of a wedding band since she is a climber and cannot wear one. She had checked other stores but they didn’t feel right.

“I had been interested for a while, but the others seemed really intense, like with big tattoos on my back. I wasn’t sure they would laugh at me if I wanted something simple and small.”This,” she said, pointing to the new little green tadpole on her ring finger, “is just what I wanted.”

Tattoos are becoming more common, with 38% of Canadians having at least one tattoo. In Canada, women (24%) are more likely than men (20%) to have a tattoo, as are people aged 18 to 34 (36%) compared to Canadians aged 35 to 54 (24 %) or 55 and over (8%), according to a 2012 Ipsos Reid poll. Regionally, British Columbians (28%) are the most likely to have a tattoo, followed by Quebecers (25 %), Albertans (23%), Atlantic Canadians (21%), residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (20%) and Ontario (19%).

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The addition of tattoo services to the hair salon, which has operated in the Brentwood space for 22 years, allows for a one-stop-shop for beauty shopping. Angles also partnered in March with Glow Laser and Spa, offering manicures, pedicures, botox, waxing and tinting, spray tans and laser treatments, including the other side of the tattoo – removal.

“Having us all here together is a pretty big umbrella,” says Glow owner Max Bouchard. He says his laser tattoo removal is a good crossover activity with the studio, although he’s more involved. “It’s more expensive than a tattoo and more painful to remove. Be sure of what you want.

Rizzuto said the salon-spa-studio concept worked well and he was happy with the decision to combine the services.

“It’s a natural fit, but because it’s so new, most people don’t think of a hair salon when they think of tattooing. I’m very proud that it happened in Calgary.

O’Neill’s portfolio is on Instagram at drooztattoosyyc or via consultation at 403-220-0017.

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