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GREENWOOD — On a cold January afternoon, Lenny Floyd was prepping a client who recently lost their child.
In between the sterilization and ink mixing, the two chatted about the meaning behind the tattoo, and the client’s journey to healing.
This kind of moment is a daily occurrence for Floyd, owner of Salty Siren Tattoo Lounge, and she’s honored to be a part of it.
"It's all these different walks of life. I get to hear people's stories — their heartache, their triumph — and you get to be a part of that," Floyd said. "Every day is a celebration of a moment in somebody's life.”
Becoming a tattoo artist had once been only a fleeting plan for Floyd.
"It just kind of felt like it was this exclusive club at the time. It was the classic, 'Oh, I don't think I fit into the standard mold of that demographic,'" Floyd said. "I kind of got, like, razzed because I went to art school [with] artists, tattoo artists, that I would come into contact with. I felt like maybe I didn't fit. It felt aloof, you know."
Then she met her mentor, Bradford Smith. Floyd worked as an apprentice at Smith’s tattoo shop in Franklin, True Grit Ink. The shop has since closed, but Floyd says her time with Smith was a period of growth; it’s when she started to realize she has what it takes to be a tattoo artist.
"When we first started the shop, I was 100% an apprentice; I didn't have a paying job. There was a struggle. He was starting a business, and there was a struggle there too," Floyd said. "And we just went through a lot together, and grew, and I am forever grateful for that opportunity."
Now, Smith has a new shop down the road from Floyd. And Floyd is thriving in a shop of her own.
"I just realized that ... you can do the same thing but do it differently," Floyd said. "I think I saw a lot of things that I would do differently in the industry, or through running and opening my own shop."
In an industry that has been preserved through tradition, Floyd has found success in being unconventional.
"I didn't know lots of female tattooers; I didn't know very many people in general that I related to that did tattoos. Now, I think there is a turning point in the industry," Floyd said. "People are a lot more open to ideas, and art, there's so many different styles and just pieces, and subject matter that people in the past wouldn't have considered to be like 'tattoo art' or 'tattoo-able.'"
"And today," she continued. "It is more of like a fine art; there's room for more styles and interpretations."
When asked what her most sought after designs are, she quickly stated: "Oh, flowers — one hundred percent flowers," followed by a laugh.
Floyd loves to tattoo watercolor, animals, floral, and pattern designs. She said she will continue to challenge herself with other designs as well.
And rest assured, when you enter the Salty Siren, you’ll be treated with care. Getting a tattoo can be an intimidating experience; that’s why Floyd has no time for big egos in her shop.
"Every person that works here cares. They care about their clients, your tattoo, your story, this moment," Floyd said. "And ... we maintain that perception of this person may never get another tattoo in their life, so why be stuck up? Why have a bad attitude? Because it might be their only time, let it be a good experience, let it be a celebration."
The time to make moves toward accomplishing your goals is now, according to Floyd. The barriers will always be there, she says, but there is no better time than now.
"I think there is always going to be a stigma where it's harder for women, or it's harder for minorities because it is, you know, you're trying to break boundaries, or that glass ceiling a little bit," Floyd said. It's always going to be a little bit more challenging, but I think the time we live in now, the attitudes, and all of the cool programs and support systems ... That especially women have ... That's my favorite thing is women supporting women."
And if pursuing those goals feels like risky business, then you're on the right path, Floyd said.
"Anybody who has any kind of — especially women — dream, you should 100 percent pursue it," Floyd said. "I know it seems like a risk, but anything that's worth it is a risk worth taking. And anything that I have put together in this shop or had in my heart was 100 percent a risk, and it's been totally worth it."
Salty Siren Tattoo Lounge
480 East Main Street
Tuesday - Saturday: 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.