For many years, Amanda Mas was the only woman in her workplace.
Sexism was rampant. Even colleagues at the same level felt they could tell her what to do. There was no HR department to help.
Whenever she felt uncomfortable, she left. Eventually that grew tiresome.
Now she has struck out on her own. She’s opened her own private studio: Amanda Mas Tattoo.
It’s just over the Norwalk border, near Whole Foods. Westport does not have any tattoo parlors, but Amanda has plenty of local clients. After 7 years in this area, she is in high demand. She is a huge Westport fan too; the town’s embrace of charitable organizations resonates with her.
Most tattooists are men. They don’t (let’s face it) have the best reputation. But as body art moves in to the mainstream — and more and more women get tattoos, including sleeves — someone like Amanda stands out.
“I want to empower women, make them feel comfortable,” she says.
The route to her own studio has not been easy. Tattoo shops were closed early in the pandemic. When they reopened (with many restrictions), she went back to work. But she did not want to accept walk-in customers, and — for the first time in her life — she was fired.
Now in her private studio, Amanda realizes, “I should have gone out on my own much earlier.”
Even during COVID, people want tattoos. She is booked for the next 2 months.
Her clients cover a wide range. She recently gave a woman her first tattoo, at age 80.
Amanda work with a lot of Westport mothers, businessmen — and many nurses too. Tattoos are a way for them to express themselves, despite having to wear the same thing every day at work.
Youngsters come in too. Amanda has a long chat with the parent, before beginning. She realizes that body art is permanent.
“If a teenager wants to commemorate a family member, that’s okay,” she says. “If they want a band logo, maybe that’s not the best idea.”
A business owner who might talk a client out of a job? Go figure.
“People have a vision of a tattoo artist as a scary person,” Amanda admits. “But I’m a little woman. No one should judge other people.” Or judge what their body art looks like.
She inks “plenty of flowers. Lots of animals. Landscapes, too.” Favored spots include wrists, ankles and rib cages — places where tattoos can be both hidden and shown off.
“A lot of really successful people who are heavily tattooed, and hardly anyone else knows,” Amanda says.
A recent trend is for full arm sleeve work on younger women. “People have gotten a lot more accepting about sleeves,” she notes.
Has she ever refused to tattoo someone?
“Yes!” she says. “If someone is impaired with alcohol or whatever, we’re not supposed to work on them. I left one shop because I was forcefully asked to do someone who was drunk. I didn’t want them to wake up the next day and regret it.
“If I think something is not aesthetically pleasing, or people in the past haven’t liked it, I’ll talk to them.” However, she adds, “a lot of people in the industry don’t have those morals.”
Amanda Mas is passionate about her work. “Tattooing is an art,” she says. “It’s an entire experience.
“I love how it’s just my client and me in the office. We can listen to music, but a lot of people want to talk. I’m almost like a therapist.”
And — like any therapist — she helps people look in the mirror, and like what they see.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s on Facebook and Instagram too: @amandamastattoo (without the “s”).