Don't know where you've been if you haven't heard, but NaturallyCurly just PUBLISHED A BOOK.
Yeah, it's kind of a big deal.
And while our glorious co-founder Michelle is off touring, some of us editors doubled back to the book's interviewees to ask some in-depth questions. On deck today is Tiffany Perez, also known by her DBA as Tiffany Tattooz.
As her handle might suggest, she's a professional tattoo artist, but she still had some info for us you wouldnt expect! This is what I slid into her DMs with:
From what I've researched, having a tattoo can be a lot like having natural hair—maintenance requirements, social stigma, etc. Outside of the tattoo business sphere, what have been your biggest headaches with perception of either or both?
I think when it comes to tattoos, dealing with the negative perceptions of how "people look" with tattoos can be frustrating. You get the "he could never work in corporate with all those tattoos" OR "what about when you wear a wedding dress with those tattoos showing?" Now as far as the natural hair goes, I remember a few years back- having curly or coarse hair wasn't considered beautiful. I remember having my hair straightened for more than a decade of my life. Then I woke up one day and just wanted to be natural. A couple of years after everyone started to embrace the natural look. Natural beauty and natural hair just blew up and became a movement. Literally like night and day. So natural hair has turned into something pretty amazing. Perception of tattoos has some more time to go but natural hair is definitely "hair to stay" now.
What's something you find yourself explaining over and over to your clients about tattoos?
The aftercare process. How to care for one's tattoo is so important after leaving the shop, so it is something that has to be explained thoroughly on the daily.
Makes sense. When I think of getting inked with my current curl routine, I have waking nightmares of somehow shea-buttering any tattoo I'd get into oblivion. How do you advise clients that come in with back of the ear or upper neck requests that still have a lot of curly or coily maintenance to perform?
Great question. I tell clients to wash the tattoo 2-3 times a day. Avoid hairspray and hard brushes. If you get any products on the tattoo wash immediately. The first three days are crucial as this is the time where the tattoo is most fresh and is considered as an open wound. Keep hair up and hair strands off the tattoo so they don't get stuck. Worst case scenario, you may put a bandage over it just to protect it as you're doing your hair but once you are done take it off right away and keep it clean, clean, clean!
On that repetitive note, is there anything you've been explaining over and over again about your hair through your life?
Yes, what products I use in my hair to get it the way it is and how to maintain healthy curly hair.
Ahem, well. Considering our audience I do actually have to ask this (womp womp). What's your hair care routine like? Got any favorite products you'd like to shout out?
Yes! I'm a big fan of co-washing my hair and using hair masks to help keep the integrity of my curls. Daily [brands] I use are DevaCurl and Giovanni Cosmetics. Conditioner is a must and I use lots of it! Serum to lock in moisture and gel is used to lock my curl texture. For more volume, hairspray at my roots is used to give my curls the wow factor and we can't forget about picking out those roots!
The tattoo world has both a very masculine and very….let's say "typical rockstar" image at large. Has your experience ever been that you've gotten more flack for or curiosity about your curlista life than your womanhood?
Yes, I feel that my curl life is truly a conversation starter. It allows me to have more conversations with complete strangers than anything else. It is a part of my image, something different and one of the first things they see. So, I tend to find people more interested in my curly hair life/routine rather than my womanhood and what I do for a living.
To that end, have you ever tried to 'fit in' more, image-wise? How if so, and when did you decide to kick the habit? Alternately, if not—what's your take on staying true to yourself?
I would say social media is to blame for this. It has such a profound affect on our image. It's deceiving and self objectifying, especially for women who put so much pressure on themselves to be the perfect person. I felt the same way. But I had to keep reminding myself to be true to who I truly am and to most importantly develop self love. It can be pretty challenging. But life is about learning and growing. It is something I'm learning to improve daily and I am loving the progress. Great physical attributes can be nice to have, but having a beautiful soul, character and loving your inner self has more power. People sense it and vibe with it. So love yourself more and you will attract more.
Any profession involves continuously learning. What's teaching you these days?
I'm learning how to manage both personal life and business. Because I am a full time tattoo artist and business owner, I tend to work a massive amount of hours. Throughout the years, I had to figure out the hard way and learn that taking the time out for your personal life is just as important. It is needed in order to live a happier life, retain good health and reduce stress. So I'm learning and teaching myself to have better time management between my personal and business life in order to live a healthier lifestyle.
I see you were on a sorority step-team from your bio! Hip-hop dance and tattooing seem like they're pretty disparate forms of art, but are there any parallels we might not know about between them?
Yes visual, creativity and flow is what both need! It takes a certain kind of mind to be able to handle and master these two different forms of art. Visualizing and using one's creativity to put something together that actually "flows" is how we make it happen on both ends. For me, when I'm creating a tattoo, I visualize in my mind how I want it to flow on the human body and then I use my creative mind to custom make a masterpiece. Same with hip hop dance— a person needs to visualize how to make their dance moves flow with a beat and in turn, create an amazing routine.
Running a business isn't easy—when it's time to unwind, what's your go-to method of recharging?
I'm very much into yoga. This keeps me sane and balanced. I also do the gym to release some steam. It's a little hard for me to just sit at home and not do anything. Keeping busy feels like my lifestyle, so if I ever do take a specific amount of time off -I will be away somewhere in another state or country away from everything exploring the world. It's how I reboot :)
Last question, because I gotta. Google maps stalking tells me your shop is right across from a graveyard! Have you ever noticed any paranormal ink activity? Or are the dead more mellow than we give them credit for?
LOL, the cemetery is about one minute away so I haven't seen anything. But when the full moon is out some strange things happen with our fellow neighbors...
It was awesome talking to Tiffany, and of course while I'll have to wait until literally every family member I have has moved to Mars before I could get inked myself, the insight was pretty great. If you're ready for more curlspo, be sure to check out The Curl Revolution yourself!