A 21-year-old Winchester tattoo artist has seen her business go from strength to strength after starting it in the middle of the pandemic.
Rubie Harper set up Pins and Needles in a former florist in Southgate Street when she was 18 years old.
Since opening in 2020, she has built up a loyal base of clients and sees around 25 people a week.
Rubie, who lives in West End, explained how the business started. She said: “I wanted to set up my place and be my boss. I trained on a course in London which was only two weeks, but it was the best two weeks of my life, it was terrific.
“At the age of 18, starting my own business was scary, and it was in the middle of the pandemic. When this place became available, I came for a viewing and instantly fell in love. I had all these visions about what I wanted to do with the site.
“I had never been into a tattoo shop myself which is crazy, but when I walked past them, all I could see was darkness. I wanted everyone to feel welcome and relaxed here.
“When I first opened, there was a lot of uncertainty due to Covid, so I had to open and close a few times. I have been here for almost three years now.”
Rubie has ambitious goals for the business and wants Pins and Needles to become a chain. “I want to expand in the future, create different chains of Pins and Needles, and get more people in because it is just me on my own.
“It was terrifying over the first few months, but I’ve been fortunate because my clients have been amazing. There isn’t a single person that comes in who I’m not instantly besties with. We’re like a big family. It’s so sweet to see people coming in and out and discussing their tattoos.
“I have built this from nothing; initially, I didn’t have a client base. It takes years to build that up.”
The 21-year-old also spoke about the challenges involved.
“The most challenging thing was getting into a routine of setting up properly and making sure I get things 100 percent right. It has been challenging to build up a client base.
“Eventually, in the future, I would love to be able to teach courses because I had the best time ever. Hopefully, I can inspire many young people, especially women, to get into business. I feel that’s very important.
“When people come in regularly, they open up to you. I feel like I wasn’t aware of the number of mental health issues out there. One of my clients recommended I take a course in psychology. I took that on board entirely, and I am studying psychology to give better advice.
“I have wanted to do this since I was 11. This is where my heart is and has been for years. So to be able to do it and have my dream job is just crazy to me. It doesn’t feel like a job. It feels like I’m going to my second home every day.”
To find out more about Pins and Needles, visit facebook.com/pinsandneedlestattoosandpiercings.
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