Women-owned Tiny Tats ATX provides tattoos for all communities in Austin

Michelle Facio, Life and Arts General Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the October 15 flipbook.

In the middle of the hardcore male-dominated Austin tattoo scene, one shop sticks out as a more feminine environment for people looking to get inked: Tiny Tats ATX.

After practicing at a South Carolina tattoo shop for several years, Coley Jackson wanted a change of pace.

She moved to Austin to open up her own tattoo studio with the environment and style of her choosing in October 2019. Now, two years later, she works with three other artists. Located at 104 E. 31st St., just north of UT’s campus, Tiny Tats thrives as one of Austin’s only women-owned and women and gender queer-ran tattoo shops. 

“The shop I originally came out of was very male-dominated, and I think there is a place for women in tattooing,” Jackson said. “There is a way of creating a client experience that could be more superior, or at the very least more feminine.” 

Tiny Tats artist Kaylee Mcgilbery said switching to a women-based shop from a mainly male-based shop positively impacted her career because now she gets to work with more people who understand her perspective. She said the shop not only offers a safe place for artists, but for clients as well.

“A lot of younger girls especially, and maybe a lot of people in general, go into a mainly male shop and they’re intimidated,” McGlibery said. “When they walk into Tiny Tats, I feel like it’s not (like) that at all.” 

UT alumna Liliana Hall said she used to live near Tiny Tats as a student and walked by the shop nearly every day on her way to class.

In November 2020, she finally decided to pay them her first visit during a Friday the 13th event.

“As a queer person myself, I definitely gravitate to those sorts of environments when choosing where (I) want to get a tattoo and who touches (me),” Hall said. “Obviously they advertise that they want people to know that this is a safe space.”

Tiny Tats shut down from March to July of 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since reopening, the shop has seen a massive boom in business.

Resident artist Cecilia Ercolino said she enjoys seeing more clientele in the shop. She said she likes commemorating a meaningful moment in somebody’s life.

“Sometimes people just get (a tattoo) because it’s beautiful and they like it, but even when they do that, they’re still marking a time in their life by doing it,” Ercolino said. “It’s pretty incredible that people want you to be the one to facilitate that, but to have this many people want it definitely makes me feel like we’re doing something right.”

Currently, all of Tiny Tats’ resident artists are fully booked, but most plan to reopen appointment scheduling starting October for early in 2022 months. Jackson said she takes pride in the relationships she has built with everyone on her team and looks forward to continuing to grow as an artist.

“I want other women to feel empowered to do whatever they want to do, no matter what the field is, and also to offer a space for women to be tattooed and to work — that’s empowering to women,” Jackson said.