Today we’re going to be talking about the value of finding a mentor and how you even go about seeking one. I will be sharing some personal experience, how I met my mentors in the industry and give you some tidbits on how you can begin to cultivate that sort of relationship and support system.
The Value of Finding a Mentor for Your Tattoo Business
But first, let’s kind of dig in into why seeking out a mentor can help catapult your career in permanent makeup tattooing or actually any business. And the reason why is because mentors can help accelerate your learning curve.
So, for example, starting out in the industry of tattooing, there is going to be a gap of learning and gaining experience, because literally the only way you can truly gain experience after you’ve trained on something is to begin working on live people.
And you can practice on hundreds of latex skins. And they have gotten a lot better and coming out with different types of materials to practice tattooing on. But nothing, NOTHING in the world will compare to actually working on a live human. And the reason being is because there are so many variables when it comes to working on life.
People, everybody like body area, and every skin type is so different. So, for example, some people have thick skin, some people have thin skin.
Age comes into play. A younger person in their 20s is going to feel different when you’re tattooing them versus someone who is mature and in their 50s and 60s. It’s just a given fact.
And in addition, in regards to camouflage tattooing, working on someone’s facelift, scars are going to feel very different than working on their butt or behind the knees. And the only way you can truly gain that sort of experience is through working on real people.
But the challenge is that when you’re a new artist, you are already focused on trying to get clients and to build your business. And there’s a period of that slow transition of you marketing yourself to you actually landing and closing a client.
And so seeking out a mentor who has, let’s say, 25 years of experience and you have less than one, you can imagine how much value you can gain and learn from their experience on working on hundreds and hundreds of people from all types of different backgrounds, age, ethnicity, et cetera.
You can begin to understand how valuable that is to have under your belt and how that can literally accelerate your learning curve by learning from mistakes that they’ve made, things that they’ve learned that have worked really well.
How to work on this type of skin versus this type of scar. And so that’s really the value of finding a mentor.
I always believe that in order to be truly successful, there needs to be a support team in place. The lone Wolf mentality of doing it all on your own has really just gone by the wayside.
In today’s world, it’s really all about collaboration and learning from each other. And with a mentor, they can serve as a great support system for you who’s not a competition, who can literally give you wise wisdom and advice because they’ve been there themselves.
My #1 Advice in Finding a Mentor
So then the next question is, okay, Jayd, this sounds amazing, but how do I go about finding a mentor?
And my number one advice is to value their time because valuing their time and experience that they’ve accumulated in 25 years versus the few months that you have under your belt, that’s worth something.
You have to imagine the years, the investments that they’ve made, the continuing education that they’ve signed up for, plus the time and experience that they’ve learned and accumulated from actually working on hundreds of people. That’s worth something.
And so my number one advice is, do not approach a potential mentor that you want in your support system and offer to pick their brain for a cup of coffee that only costs $3 or to take them out to lunch in order to be able to pick their brain.
And again, lunch can be anywhere between $$25 to $30, let’s say, because I think that does a disservice, and it shows a lack of respect on what they can truly offer you. It’s like value the value that they’re going to offer you because you’re going to get so much more in return.
The way that I approached my mentors, the ones that I had in my life, I’ll share exactly the three women that I consider my mentors and how each of them I approach and cultivate a relationship with. So we’ll start with the first one.
Mentor #1 Elizabeth Finch Howell
Her name is Elizabeth Finchel. I actually heard about her through a podcast interview. She had been doing camouflage tattooing since the 1950s.
And when I started camouflage tattooing, there was literally just a handful of us. And so there was a lack of resources and information online about camouflage tattooing, period.
And I was seeking information on YouTube, on podcasts from traditional body tattoos because the traditional tattooing or the art of traditional tattooing has been around for decades, since ancient history. And I figured they’ve been doing this a long time.
Let me just seek out people outside of the camouflage niche and see what I can learn from them. Long story short, I was listening to this tattoo podcast and had heard about a woman named Elizabeth Finch Howell, who had been doing scar camouflage since the 1950s.
And she had written a how-to book, and she had a pigment line of her own. And so I checked out her website, and I was really interested in buying her book, but it was nowhere to be purchased on her site.
And so I ended up calling the number on the website, not expecting to get her, by the way, just expected to get an answering machine or just someone else. And surprisingly, she actually answered the phone!
And I was surprised and kind of shocked, but just told her that I had listened to this amazing podcast interview and I was interested in purchasing the book, had checked out her website, but couldn’t find it, and was she selling them anywhere else?
She was extremely personable. We ended up having a really great conversation. Long story short, she wasn’t selling the book any more or any longer, but she sent me over her PowerPoint presentation.
She’s also a trainer and educator. She doesn’t train anymore, but back in the day she was. And so she sent me one of the PowerPoints, and I read through it and had a couple of questions that I wanted to follow up on and then began to email her.
And to this day, we have this kind of penpal email relationship. After being so generous with her wisdom and answering all my questions, I mean, some of these emails I’m sure were pretty long, and I’m sure she’s busy.
But she was just so generous in taking the time to answer me back with really thought-provoking answers and questions that I have literally taken into my practice and explored further.
I asked her, “Hey, Elizabeth, I’ve never even asked you this before, but I consider you a mentor because you’ve really helped me out a lot. Is that okay? Is that a role that you would feel comfortable being in my life? And what can I do in return for you? I respect your time.”
And she didn’t know. She was definitely open to being my mentor, but she didn’t really know what I could give her in return. And so then I offered. I was like, look, I’m really good at marketing. If you ever need Flyers to be designed, anything like that, I’m happy to help you with that. Even web design.
And at that point, she was like, “yeah, that sounds great. I actually do need help with that, not at this time. But I’ll definitely use you up on that offer.”
Mentor #2 Taryn Quinterri
My second mentor is an educator and speaker in the industry of cosmetic tattooing. She’s in Arizona, and her name is Taryn, and she was kind of like the first and only person who had done a color theory webinar for Scalp Micropigmentation.
I had taken her course, and she’s very approachable reached out to her on Instagram and on social media. And I just kind of cultivated a very social media sort of relationship with her.
And when I was having problems with color theory when it came to camouflage tattooing, and she also does scar camouflage as well, I simply reached out to her and was like, “hey, Taryn, I’d really like to pick your brain on color theory.”
So I was very specific on what I wanted help in and just sent her a message. It was like, “I value your time. I’m not going to ask to pick your brain over coffee because I do respect your time. And what would it cost? What would make sense for you, for me to simply pick your brain for an hour?”
And she came back with a number. She had never done this before. She came back with a number that I thought was pretty low. So I ended up paying her more because, again, I really value the value in which I was going to be able to gain back from her and how that was going to expand my business.
And we ended up meeting for an hour, and I just made sure that I respected her time. And the way that I made sure that I respected her time was I made sure that that hour was extremely productive.
I came in with my books, with my inks, with my challenges, like my case studies that didn’t go well.
And I had all these bullet-pointed questions that I wanted to ask her. And so the minute that we met and we were able to sit down, I was just able to truly, truly pick her brain.
It was so methodical. I prioritized the questions. I had thought about it ahead of time to make sure it was worth her time as well to meet with me. And I got so much out of that consultation from her.
She’s been in the business, I’m assuming, for over 20 years. And at that point, I had only been in the business for two years. So just within that hour time span, I had probably gained five additional years of experience just by talking with her.
And even to this day, because of that mutual respect and paying for her time, which, by the way, was so worth it. I feel like any time I have a quick question, I can just simply reach out to her and she always gets back to me very promptly. And I feel like it’s because of the relationship that I’ve cultivated with her.
Mentor #3 Stacie-Rae Weir
And then the third mentor was actually a trainer of mine. So when I was ready to finally dive into mastectomy Areola Nipple tattoos, I had done a ton of research and really knew that I was supposed to train with Stacie Rae. And the reason why I knew I was supposed to train with her is that I knew she would challenge me.
Stacie is very direct. She doesn’t really have a filter. And that’s absolutely what I love about her is because I knew when I was going to be stepping into the world of mastectomy scars.
I had already been working on stretch marks and surgical scars. But there’s something to be said about mastectomy scars because that skin has been traumatized and wounded and compromised in so many ways through radiation, chemotherapy. A lot of women have had a number of reconstructive surgeries before they’re even ready to have an areola tattoo.
And so I knew that this was going to be a challenge for me, and I wanted to be sure that I chose a mentor trainer who was going to just give it to me straight. And I didn’t want anyone to just be nice and tell me the things that I wanted to hear.
I really wanted to dive deep into compromise skin. And I knew Stacey was the trainer for me and through my training with Stacey. So not only did I invest in her training to learn how to do the aerial and nipple tattoos, but we have these mentorship calls that I can use throughout the year.
And she’s been a wealth of information because her background comes from traditional body art tattoos, which I love. So she has a plethora of information when it comes to tattooing, period, let alone she’s also experienced a mastectomy herself.
So she knows from a patient experience what it’s like to lose a breast, both of her breasts actually, and also what it’s like to be on the other side, which is the Ariola tattoo artist working on compromised skin.
And the thing about Stacey, what’s so interesting is I obviously valued her expertise, her knowledge, and knew that it was the right thing to invest in her training.
But afterwards, though, I mean, Stacey has been a great mentor. But what I’ve really learned from Stacey, though, is boundaries.
I have been so inspired by the way that she runs her business and the contracts that she has in place and how she really sets boundaries between her and her students and her clients.
And it’s interesting because even though I went to her specifically to learn how to do the aerial and nipple tattoos, I’ve actually gained a lot from her so much more when it comes to just owning your boundaries as a business owner in the world of service, and I didn’t expect that.
But it’s one of those things where I had room to grow. And Stacey has been a great mentor and amused for me to really see how she navigates that in regards to contracts. I mean, she is sponsored by needle companies and ink brands and just hearing kind of like the behind the scenes stuff of where she’s at in her career now, where she’s an established artist, has been written up in magazines and is now a sponsored artist for these huge companies.
It’s been really great to kind of gain experience and peek behind the curtains of what all of that entails and how best to protect myself.
And so, again, these are just some of the small takeaways or actually big takeaways that I have learned to really value and gain and catapult my own business through the youth and the wisdom of having mentors in my life.
If you are looking for a mentor, I would first look at artists that you already follow and respect and find value in.
At the time, there weren’t a lot of people on social media that I could look up to in regards to camouflage tattooing and so that’s why I ended up exploring YouTube videos and podcast interviews.
You can definitely do the same thing and then I would just simply write a sincere message to them with what it is that you’re struggling with and see if they would be interested in helping you out and then offer something in return.
“I’d be happy to pay for your time to consult with you whatever that fee is, whatever you feel is fair or would be worth your time,” or let’s say you don’t have the money to pay them are there any other skills that you can offer them?
“I would be happy to do a video for you to edit a video. I’d be happy to write a press release for you I’d be happy to do a photoshoot for you I’d be happy..” whatever it is and I think that can be a great way to plant the seed if there is a mentorship relationship to bloom.
If you found this episode to be useful I would really appreciate and love to ask for a review for you to either share this episode with someone that you know is new in the industry who may need a little nudge of support and wisdom or even simply by subscribing I would be so appreciative.