Ten years ago, Sarah Trofatter sat down in the tattoo chair to get a half-sleeve inked by Solomon Trofatter – but they almost abandoned the tattoo because she couldn’t stand him.
Solomon Trofatter said they came close to never speaking again, because they couldn’t agree on the changes he wanted to make to her piece. In the end, they created a tattoo Sarah Trofatter loves, but they joke that they almost didn’t get there.
“We didn’t speak the same language,” Sarah Trofatter said. “Getting to that point took a lot of effort. It grew into a great friendship. We ended up really connecting.”
One decade later, Sarah Trofatter quit her job to open Two Roses Tattoo Co. Solomon Trofatter who is now her husband. They will soon open their shop at 125 E. Kalamazoo St. Lansing.
The shop’s name is Solomon Trofatter’s tribute to his wife – her middle name is Rose. Their business model was formed from their disagreements early on. This model aims at bridging many gaps: miscommunications among artists and clients, disconnects within the community and new artists’ struggles in the field.
Solomon Trofatter started tattooing as a child, drawing on his family’s homemade machines. He plunged into the industry fully in 2004 – joining Splash of Color when the shop was hitting its stride, producing work in pristine conditions unfamiliar to the Lansing area tattoo scene at the time.
Two Roses Tattoo Co. is three miles from MSU’s campus. Solomon Trofatter, who has a Spartan helmet tattooed on his cheek bone, chose the location partly due to its proximity to East Lansing’s younger population.
“Currently there is no great apprenticeship program anywhere there,” he said. “We want to pour a lot of energy into that.”
The shop will offer a robust educational program for young artists who have not yet “found their footing.” Solomon wants to counteract the lack of qualifications needed to break into the body art industry by creating more informed career artists.
“There’s a very haphazard set of standards that you need to get to,” Solomon Trofatter said. “All of them have nothing to do with you being a good tattoo artist.”
Michigan law mandates that body art shops must be licensed. However, tattoo artists do not need to have a state license.
Trofatters will provide education in retirement planning, 401k and health insurance for artists under the age of 25. They also offer a wide range of benefits to apprentices and employees.
“Lots of artists struggle with mental health and addiction,” Solomon Trofatter said. The tattoo industry is awash with it. It is so inundated by addiction.
Individuals in need of laser tattoo removal can also be provided by the shop.
“We’ll be working to offer (laser removal) for people who are just looking for a fresh start and just need a little help to get there,” Sarah Trofatter said. “Whether they’re coming out of a bad situation for any number of reasons.”
Solomon Trofatter believes Downtown Lansing offers a rare opportunity to start over as it recovers from COVID-19. He hopes to contribute to this transformation through partnerships with many Lansing non-profits.
“This whole downtown area has a chance, over the next five years, to become something really different,” Solomon Trofatter said. “And inviting and community-driven. And just f—ing cool.”
Julie Reinhardt is the director of Downtown Community Development. She said that her shop’s support for mentorship and community involvement fits well with the culture she strives to foster.
According to her, the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for the town is to create a 24-hour, sustainable downtown that small businesses can use.
Visually, Two Roses Tattoo Co. will have an Art Deco vibe, “a little spikey up front but the back, a little speakeasy.”
“If (clients) are looking for a tattoo experience that is higher class, they are going to get that here,” Sarah Trofatter said. “If you’re a tattoo collector, and you’re looking for an authentic, more historic tattoo experience, we want to offer that as well.”
Their goal is to make the shop a comfortable place for anybody who walks in the door, regardless of what they’re looking for.
“We want to take care of our artists and we want to take care of our community,” Solomon Trofatter said.
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