STATEN ISLAND, NY – When Frank Russo founded Ink Couture NYC in 2013, his goal was to create an upscale and chic destination where clients could receive premium tattoo service in a posh and luxurious environment. Want to reproduce a rare picture or a meaningful piece of art? Rousseau gathered some of the best tattoo artists in the country and moved them to Staten Island to acquire it. Want to get inked while sipping champagne and sitting by the fireplace while watching Netflix? They built a VIP room just for that type of personal service.
But when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic threatened his livelihood in 2020 and essentially closed his shop for six months, Rousseau went on to own and operate one of New York City’s most upmarket tattoo parlors. You could give up on your dream of doing it. But he didn’t.
Rousseau recently noted, “We had significant profit losses, but our customers were brilliant and loyal and eagerly awaited our opening date,” what he described as the most challenging season of business ownership. ever experienced. “Nobody canceled, nobody went to another artist who was getting tattoos despite the restrictions. After that six-month hiatus we opened up and were ready to rock and roll. ,
So instead of closing down like many other businesses, Rousseau found himself expanding.
“During COVID, many other businesses that were connected to us were unfortunately forced to close and we were able to capitalize on that extra space,” Rousseau said. “In the past two years we have doubled both our occupancy and our workforce.”
Now featuring 2,200 square feet of design space, the renovated Pleasant Plains shop was designed by Brian Saban of B Saban Consulting, and features red walls and white floors, with crystal chandeliers. A rare Moto-Guzzi motorcycle is located between the artist stations to the right of the parlor.
“Moto-Guzzi made only 400 of this particular model for the world, and we have the number 337,” Russo notes on its website. “As such as how rare and classic this model is, Ink Couture NYC is nothing like generic tattoo parlors throughout New York City. We’re rare among thousands of tattoo parlors.”
Rousseau, who worked in corporate America for two decades before opening Ink Couture, attributes his success in the tattoo industry to that business background.
“I was in the banking industry for more than 25 years,” Rousseau said. “I never in a million years thought I’d have a tattoo parlor. But I believe that no matter what industry you are in, you have to provide impeccable customer service and a great product. I think we have flourished because I have that knowledge and experience.”
Russo, who is highly fond of tattoos and has collected over 30 designs of his own over the years, originally started his business with just two artists and has since expanded to 13. A true family-run company, tattoo enthusiasts work with their sons Michael and Andrew, and daughter Taylor to create an intimate environment that focuses entirely on the exceptional customer experience.
“We’ve got a really good stronghold here in Staten Island,” he said. “If you look at our reviews, you’ll find over 1,200 – a documented combo of social media, review sites, and internal scoring. The positive comments we regularly get are our cleanliness, our upbeat atmosphere, great customer service.” and are based on the tremendous quality of the artwork.”
Their staff is a mix of talented artists from across the country and their work is not an “assembly line”.
“We don’t do an assembly line where the first available artist gets the next customer,” Rousseau said. “We ensure a personalized service where the artist is matched to the client.”
Rousseau’s son Andrew, who is the tattoo artist at the shop, currently has a one-year waiting list.
“We’re working on that,” laughed Rousseau, admitting that a year is too long of a wait. “We have brought in equally talented artists in an effort to reduce that wait to 90 days. But I think Andrew’s following is a testament to how good his work really is.”
A recent social media post showing a female client getting her ears pierced to celebrate her 90th birthday is a matter of pride for Rousseau.
“She came here because we have a clean, friendly environment and cater to all different types of customers,” Rousseau said. “Our clients are approximately 51% male, 49% female and tattoos and piercings – which used to be considered taboo and illegal – have become extremely popular. I believe statistics show that 51% of Americans have at least one Tattoo is. Our goal is to make Ink Couture NYC the go-to destination for those services in the tri-state area.”
The Ink Couture process begins with a consultation during which clients list their wishes, share their ideas and show drawings/renderings of the design they want. The artist then sketches a prototype and schedules a follow-up appointment to review the design.
“We work during banking hours—10 a.m. to 7 p.m.—we don’t serve during late night drinking hours,” laughed Rousseau. “And there’s no Flash tattoos here, you can’t point at something on the wall and say ‘Give that.’ Everything is original.”
According to Rousseau, that’s why his shop has such a large number.
“We are definitely unique,” he concluded. “Tattoos and piercings are major decisions. It is our job to make sure the design and feel are just right.”