Tattoo parlors aren't known for their family-friendly atmosphere but Garry DeRonda is changing that in Spring Hill.
Since DeRonda, owner of Enigma Ink Tattoos & Piercings, spends so much time at the shop, it made sense to make it comfortable enough for his family to spend time there with him.
"Otherwise, we would never see each other," DeRonda said.
DeRonda is a father of two boys, Cole, 12, and Garry, 14. And it was important to him and his wife, Kim Sanchez, that they build a business where their children, as well as the children of their clients, could feel comfortable. They even give out temporary tattoos to kids.
"We're family-friendly here," DeRonda said. "Most shops don't even allow kids under 16 in the door."
His children are growing up with a healthy appreciation for artistic expression and strong work ethic. Both help out with paperwork while at the shop. And they create artful images, hoping to one day follow in their father's footsteps in some capacity.
"They both say they can tattoo to help pay for things while they are in college," Sanchez said.
A very tight-knit family, DeRonda and Sanchez saw an opportunity to mold their own values into DeRonda's passion, opening a shop with a family-friendly atmosphere.
And their customers have responded.
Beth Swain has two of his pieces displayed on her inside wrists. She's also proud to display a few piercings from DeRonda.
"I won't go anywhere else," Swain said. "I love these people and I love the atmosphere."
Tattoos still carry a trace of negative stigma, DeRonda said. Yet, there is no shortage of people wanting to express their individuality through body art. And older clients are choosing tattoos or body piercings more than before to express their creative individuality.
Most popular are small black outlined or full color images on the top of a foot, ankle, or inside wrist. Larger images might be placed on the back or back of a shoulder. And piercings are popular on the lip, ear, and naval area.
DeRonda remains busy most days, jumping from appointments and creating images from client's requests in between.
DeRonda didn't plan to work alone. In fact, the shop is a former spa and has several rooms to accommodate a few tattoo artists. He started with another artist who recently left to pursue other endeavors.
After the departure, DeRonda began doing whatever necessary to keep his clients happy and his doors open. That includes packing appointments whenever he can since the demand for his work continues to rise.
He hopes to bring in at least one other artist to help with the workload. But his standards are high and he focuses on quality workmanship and dynamic customer care.
Sanchez stepped in temporarily to help with administrative tasks while DeRonda works with clients. But she is quick to point out that Enigma Ink is DeRonda's baby. A nurse by trade, Sanchez was happy to take on some of the tedious tasks so DeRonda would be free to focus on clients.
"He's the artist," she said.
And she makes him look good, displaying much of his talent on her own body, from colorful, detailed tattoos to piercings on her bottom lip.
DeRonda takes his talent very seriously, saying he is a non-elitist.
"I give them what they want," he said. Of course, he has received odd requests for images or areas of the body he wouldn't consider for himself. And he gives advice if asked. "But in the end, it's their decision."
Enigma Ink Tattoos & Piercings is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome.
Contact Hernando Today correspondent Kim Dame at firstname.lastname@example.org.