This is AUSTIN (KXAN) Located at the intersection of Rosewood and Chicon in Austin’s east side is the establishment known as Ink Empire. Tracy Armstrong and Matilda Honey, the establishment’s proprietors, want all customers to feel welcome.
Most visitors walk in and exclaim, “Oh my gosh, it’s lit, it’s a vibe, I don’t want to leave.” Armstrong claimed, “They just hang out.”
Ambience is established by the store’s resident DJ. The tall, stately chair in the centre of the back wall, directly beneath the large, imposing letters that read “Ink Empire,” is also difficult to miss.
Mini Mondays are Ink Empire’s way of saying “thanks” to regulars by offering them a discount on tattoos (from $45 to $35).
Armstrong recalled the days when his shop inked as many as 10 people daily. Oh my god, that’s crazy, we thought. We’ve got a line out the door now on Mondays, and we’re seeing about 160-200 people.
The Killeen, Texas, couple who founded Ink Empire. About five years ago, they set out to improve their odds of making something original and successful. In the end, they decided to take the plunge and relocate to Austin, where they have since established themselves as industry leaders in the ink business.
Only a small number of Black-owned businesses can be found on their street, and Ink Empire is one of them. But they have witnessed others in the area being forced out due to rising rents and development.
Actually, across the street from where they are located, low-cost housing is being demolished and replaced with upscale apartments.
Honey remarked that she and the gang are adding a new vitality and flavour to Austin with their unique backgrounds and perspectives.
“Definitely changing the industry…making people feel more loved and cared for in a shop,” Honey said.
Armstrong and Honey hope to help make Austin a more inclusive and vibrant place to live. They have stated that when the time is right, they would like to purchase the building they are currently leasing.
The couple hopes to maintain a residence in their current east Austin community.