Spotlight on Women Business Owners: Darlene Fuhst, Prohibition Ink Custom Tattoo
Moving to Utah to Open a Tattoo Parlor
Darlene Fuhst and her husband JJ Ohlinger moved to Salt Lake City two years ago to open their tattoo parlor, Prohibition Ink Custom Tattoo. Both trained artists, they eventually realized tattooing was a way to pursue art while making a living. JJ has built a very successful tattoo career and travels to conventions around the world. Darlene handles the day-to-day operations of running the business.
Before moving to Utah, Darlene helped launch the entrepreneurship MBA program at Clemson University in South Carolina. As part of the program, she would watch students pitch their business ideas and give them feedback. If she wanted to start a business, she felt like she had all the tools at her disposal.
From the beginning, their customer service has set them apart. Many tattoo shops have “tattitude,” intentionally scaring off the uninitiated. Darlene decided to run the shop like a service business. She is friendly, welcoming, and always answers phone calls. Her background in marketing and retail come in handy.
Darlene’s husband JJ Ohlinger tattooing a client in the shop.
Separating Yourself from Your Work
The most challenging aspect of running a business has been work life balance. When you are married to your business partner, you’re always discussing work. Darlene’s husband tries to accommodate clients who can only come on days when the shop is technically closed. That cuts down on days off. Lately Darlene has started putting an out-of-office email response on Sundays and Mondays, so she won’t feel as much pressure to constantly check in. She says the fantasy of owning your business is that you can do anything you want. The reality is that you never have a day off.
Darlene wishes she had checked in with other business owners before opening, to learn about the process of starting a business. Navigating permits and inspections was a hurdle, and knowing what to expect could have saved them a few months.
Her advice to women thinking of starting a business: do your research but trust your gut. Any business at one point is a leap of faith, if you listen to your intuition you will know what’s right. Even if the research tells you otherwise. Some things Darlene and her husband have done with their business don’t make sense on paper but they work.
Visit Darlene at Prohibition Ink Custom Tattoo, 1991 1100 E, Suite C, Salt Lake City, UT 84106, and prohibitionink.com.