For many people, the idea of entering a tattoo and piercing studio may invoke a sense of anxiety…and that’s before they think of or see the needles. Tattoo and piercing studios do not have a reputation for warmth and comfort. The team at Sacred Ink opened their doors with a mission to change that!
Chad Schloss founded Sacred Ink, located in Paducah’s Cardinal Point, in 2007. Chad is a veteran and after his service, he relocated to Paducah to raise his family in closer proximity to be closer to his mother who had also relocated here from Illinois.
Knowing that “outside work” was not the kind of work he wanted, he leaned into his passion for art and his love of people which led him to tattooing. He earned an Associate’s Degree which gave him the foundation he needed to start his own business.
“I could have gone to work for a number of studios,” explains Chad, “but I wanted to do things differently. Tattoo studios have a reputation for not being welcoming to the general public. That’s not an environment I wanted to work in. The people in Paducah are the salt of the earth. I wanted to create an environment that was safe, warm, and welcoming to anyone who has an interest in the self-expression that comes with tattoos and piercings.”
One year after opening his studio, Chad hired Austin Moore to work at the front desk of the studio. Soon after, he encouraged Austin to start his apprenticeship as a professional piercer. “One year after that, I was poking holes in people,” jokes Austin.
All jokes aside, Austin has excelled in his trade. He’s a certified member of the Association of Professional Piercers. “Austin goes above and beyond in every facet of his work,” says Chad. “He’s actively involved in APP to stay abreast of the best practices of the industry.” Austin is an active member of this organization and travels to APP sponsored classes held nationally on topics such as on piercing techniques, aftercare, legislation, studio set-up, blood-borne pathogens, first aid, CPR, anthropology, and related topics important to the industry.
“The piercing industry has evolved significantly over the last decade,” says Austin. The quality of jewelry has improved. There are cleanliness standards today that didn’t use to exist. I’m committed to ensuring that when someone visits Sacred Ink they see us helping to set the standards for what should be expected in our industry.”
You’ll see this demonstrated from the moment you enter Austin’s “office.” A hospital quality autoclave sterilizer sits on a long lab table along the back wall. All materials and tools used during the piercing process are disposable and for single use only. All jewelry is placed in the autoclave immediately before the piercing takes place. Austin is strict about what comes near that sterile space. (Ask me how I know…)
Sacred Ink does not have a “type” of client they serve which indicates they have achieved their mission of creating an inclusive, welcoming environment. They see teens excited for a little self-expression (with parental consent and proper documentation). They see men and women across the lifespan.
I asked if either man could share a story with me about a particularly memorable client they’ve served. Neither could answer the question. “They are all memorable,” Chad decided. “Everyone’s story is different. We have some heavy times here. We meet people who have overcome cancer. We meet people who are struggling with the loss of a loved one. Sometimes community tragedy brings groups of people in to see us looking to us to help them commemorate something or someone they’ve lost. As a tattoo artist, I get to be part of the healing process. I get to give them something that will be with them forever. What I give them is more than a tattoo. I get to give them something that’s part of their triumph. It’s so rewarding to have even the smallest part of that triumph.”
It was clear during my visit that a strong bromance exists between these two partners. Austin refers to Chad as the heart of the organization. “If I’m the heart, he’s the brain,” Chad added. Their commitments extend beyond the walls of their studio. Both men are proud husbands and fathers. They are cool, humble men dedicated to their mission, each other, their families and their communities.
Sacred Ink employs a team of five. As a team, they are a tight-knit group of fellas working together, always pushing each other to do better and be better. That shows!