How to Make Your Shop More Inclusive | Painful Pleasures Community

How to Make Your Shop More Inclusive

If you're wondering how to make your shop more inclusive without being pander-y or insincere, this blog is for you. Check out our top tips.
by Danny Tress Last Updated: June 4, 2024

Getting a tattoo is a deeply personal experience. Consequently, it’s your job to make sure every client feels safe, respected, and comfortable when they walk into your shop or sit in your chair. But let’s be real—nobody wants to feel pandered to, either. It’s 2024 and performative inclusivity reeks about as bad as too much bad rainbow merch in your lobby. So let’s talk about some genuine ways to make your tattoo shop a more welcoming space for LGBTQ+ clients.


Maybe you’re a queer-identifying artist or several of your co-workers are. If that’s the case, you’re likely well-versed in understanding LGBTQ+ issues and experiences, so you’re better equipped to create a respectful and understanding atmosphere. However, if you’re not, or you work in a shop that’s primarily staffed with cis-gendered, heterosexual folks, it’s a good idea to educate yourself. There are a few simpler ways to do this: follow LGBGTQ+ artists on social media (many discuss their experiences in their stories, captions, or TikTok posts). You can also check out shows that highlight LGBTQ+ issues and themes like Disclosure or Queer Eye on Netflix. To take it a step further, it could be beneficial for your entire shop to engage in workshops or team meetings to discuss LGBTQ+ topics. If you’re wondering why it’s important to educate yourself, here are the benefits of doing so:

  1. You’ll better understand inclusive language, pronoun usage, and overall strengthen your communication skills with queer clients.
  2. Education can inform anti-discrimination policies in your shop that make all clients feel safe (gender-neutral bathrooms, unacceptable language or speech, etc)
  3. Continuous education can become a part of your shop’s training, which could end up attracting talented queer artists or satisfied queer clientele.
  4. You could potentially improve your queer clients’ experience by engaging them in conversation about their experiences (or shows they might like!)


Before you flinch at this (we already mentioned rainbow overkill) creating a welcoming space doesn’t mean pandering. There are plenty of ways to make your space feel safe for a wide variety of clients without going overboard or looking insincere. For example, you can showcase the work of LGBTQ artists on the walls of your lobby. Or even just having a gender-neutral restroom can mean the world to clients.

However, a rainbow, trans, or queer flag or two doesn’t hurt during Pride month… particularly if you’re a queer artist. It shows allyship when it’s done sincerely.


Bathroom iconography for any-sex bathrooms

We mentioned a few of these policies already. But here are a few more you need to ensure LGBTQ+ clients feel safe:

  1. Non-Discrimination Policy: commit to providing an inclusive, welcoming, and professional experience for all clients regardless of gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, race, color, genetics, disability, age, or any other protected status.
  2. Pronoun and Name Respect Policy: respect all individuals’ preferred names and pronouns. Simply including a pronouns section on client intake forms goes a very long way for showing respect.
  3. Inclusive Language Policy: assure clients that all communication will be respectful—it should be part of your shop’s policy that you never make assumptions about a clients’ gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Zero Tolerance Harassment Policy: let clients know you have zero tolerance for harassment, hate speech, bullying, or even micro-aggressions.
  5. Confidentiality and Privacy Policy: clients should feel safe sharing any personal information with you, including sexual orientation, gender identity, or even personal stories. Let them know that information will remain confidential.

These are just a few policies we recommend. Make them clear with visible signage. Display signs can showcase all your non-discrimination policies so clients know the second they walk in that they’re safe. Digital displays also work if you’re not into print signage. You can also include your policies in client intake forms, on your website, and on your social media page.

Another great way to ensure your policies are working? Include visible feedback boxes or post polls on Instagram. Ask clients about their experience and how you can do better.


Flexing tattoo artist with Pride flag at a Pride event

Get involved in local LGBTQ+ events! Pride is one of the easiest ways to do that. If you’re not booked on the day of your nearest Pride event, it’s time to get something fun to wear and check out the scene. Meet local allies and queer-identifying folks, build relationships with them, and tell them about your shop. You could make new clients and friends while also demonstrating your allyship.


If you’re a shop owner, think about how you market your shop (and if you’re an artist working for a shop, think about how you market yourself). If you don’t already, showcase your work on queer-identifying clients. Partner with LGBTQ+ influencers on social media. These partnerships can amplify your inclusive messaging and attract more diverse clientele overall. Another great marketing strategy that could be especially beneficial during Pride Month? Offer sliding scale pricing or pay-what-you-can Flash days. Many LGBTQ+ individuals struggle to afford tattoo services—but they could desperately want a tattoo to express themselves. Make your work more accessible to those folks for a day, or even offer a giveaway. This kind of opportunity could mean the world to select clients.


Remember, inclusivity is not a one-time effort but a continuous commitment to understanding and respect. By taking these steps, you’ll not only enhance the experience for your LGBTQ+ clients but also build a stronger, more diverse clientele, and ultimately, a more vibrant and successful business.

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