Follow us into Sandra's studio

Stick and poke is a style of tattooing where the machine is replaced by a simple needle that applies the ink by hand. "I've always drawn a lot. Maybe not with a brush and canvas, but my school books were covered with doodles."

In the small tattoo studio in Norrböle, surrounded by plants and beautiful things, it's hard to believe that there hasn't always been a cozy tattoo studio here. But in fact, it's barely been a year since Sandra Johansson decided to realize her dream of a creative life as an entrepreneur.

- "I did my first tattoo 10 years ago and absolutely loved it. I quickly looked into buying my own machine, but it seemed expensive for a hobby. Then I found a kit with needle and ink and discovered the beauty of stick and poke. It's so fun and relaxing," says Sandra.

Sandra's background in art is perhaps not what you would call traditional. Today she has entered a niche area of art. What started as doodling in school books eventually developed into small tattoos on friends and colleagues. Today it has become a profession and her own business.

Sandra Johansson

- I've done a lot of tattoos on myself and friends over the years, but they've been short-lived and life often got in the way. Then the opportunity to start a studio came up. I sat and thought about it for a long time, but I knew I was good and had a steady hand," Sandra explains.

The premises were quickly ready and after that things moved quickly. The inspection by the municipality and the work of building up a customer base had begun. Soon Sandra was ready to open the doors of the Pokes & Plants tattoo studio.

- My mentor at the Nyföretagarcentrum once told me that some people start businesses to become financially independent, others do it to feel good. For me, it was important to be creative and manage my time. In the summer of 2023, I opened the studio. It's so much fun to meet all the people and make people happy," she continues.

"There was room for this in Skellefteå"

She says that she is inspired by her plants, and other beautiful things she sees. But perhaps above all by her customers and their wishes. Sandra spends a lot of time understanding them and then putting her stamp on the end result. Today, success is a fact. The calendar is full every month and the bookings are rolling in.

- I didn't know if it would work and I have no experience in business. At the same time, I felt that there was room for it here in Skellefteå. It's a good size for the city in terms of spreading the word. Every tattoo becomes an advertising pillar," says Sandra.

Sandra's philosophy in the studio is hard to miss. When you walk in, it feels more like a spa than a tattoo parlor, and the lack of whirring machines creates an unlikely calm for a tattoo parlor. Despite having a customer on site.

Person getting a tattoo

- I want it to be a harmonious and cozy moment when you come here. It's more difficult with machines that make a lot of noise. Surrounded by my plants here, I hope you feel safe and relaxed. Very few people say that it hurts or that they need a break," she says.

Although the customer base is mixed, she believes that her style appeals mainly to women, who are also her most common customers. Sandra says that it feels particularly important to help them feel more positive about their bodies.

- "Many people who come to me have complexes and feel bad about parts of their body. With a tattoo, I have the chance to help turn that around. What is most in demand are very personal tattoos, ones that really mean something. It's an honor to be trusted with that," says Sandra.

Since the beginning of 2024, Sandra has been working full-time in the studio. Life as a self-employed person creates more time in her life. Time to spend with her four children and spend time in nature - one of her biggest hobbies.

- I love being out in nature! In recent years I've become obsessed with mushroom picking, I think about little else, but I'm happy just to be out in the woods and fields too. I don't mind if things are a bit uncomfortable," she concludes.

Text: Sofia Hedström

Photo: Tilda Olofsgård

Illustration: Sandra Johansson