Being Boss with Tattoos

June 16, 2017

One of the perks of being your own boss is that nobody can tell you that you can’t have tattoos. Emily and Kathleen both have tattoos, so in today’s minisode, we’re having fun talking about what they are and the stories behind each one.

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"We work in a way that allows us to express ourselves in whatever way we want."
- Emily Thompson


More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Emily Thompson 0:02
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Kathleen Shannon 1:09
All right, what are we talking about today?

Caitlin Brehm 1:14
So let's talk about tattoos. One of the cool things about working for yourself as a boss is that you get to choose what you do with your hair and your body and your style. And tattoos are one of those things that are more accepted than ever before, but they can still cause tension at the work place. And I know I'm willing Kathleen and you both have tattoos. So let's hear the story about them. What are they? What do they mean? Have they affected your work life at all?

Kathleen Shannon 1:44
Oh, I love this topic. Because I think a lot about my hair and how I'm kind of doing things that might be considered not workplace appropriate with my hair from time to time. And I think that tattoos still carry maybe a little bit of a stigma with them whenever it comes to especially working in a corporate workplace. And I think that we're really lucky as creative entrepreneurs that we get to have tattoos wherever we want. Our friend Paul Jarvis has them like all over his hands and neck. And I think he has very little space left. But we get to have tattoos too. But it's still something I kind of think about whenever it comes to client relationships and having visible tattoos. And maybe one day it will be nothing at all. And this podcast itself will be super antiquated and silly that we're even talking about it. But I'm excited to talk about it both on our it relates to our businesses, but then also just our stories of our own tattoos and what we've got, because a lot of people might not know that we have some. So Emily, when did you get your first tattoo? And what is it?

Emily Thompson 2:51
I got my first tattoo on my, my left hand, my left forearm, I think it was my 25th birthday, if I'm not mistaken. And so I guess first time I get is a little late. Like I didn't get tattoos super early in my 20s. Actually, I might have been 26 when I got my first tattoo. And it was one of those things that always wanted one but never wanted to make that decision. Like I've always had slight issues with commitment. So so it took me a long time to really figure out what it is that I wanted to get. And then it took me even longer to find the person who was going to do it because I'm also a total tattoo snob. So I was it was either my 25th or 26th birthday I got a a Mandela style compass on my left forearm, and I designed it myself and I found a guy who would do very simple like line tattoos, there's no shading and no color that was really important to me. Most tattoo artists think that's an unfinished tattoo even though that's totally how I wanted it to stay. And so I found a guy who did it I got it done and I have always loved this tattoo is my very favorite. And it's never affected anything I got it whenever I had pretty much hardcore decided that I was never going to work for anyone else as long as I lived. And so for me that was like an in putting it in such an obvious place was like a final sticking it to the main for me in that I'm going to get this tattoo. It's going to be where people can see it. I designed it myself because I was designing websites. And that was sort of me like claiming my design Enos I guess. But also the fact that it's a compass for me is a constant reminder that I choose my own path, which has always been very important for me. So yeah, that was my first tattoo. And it's still my favorite tattoo. What about you?

Kathleen Shannon 4:50
My first tattoo was also a little bit later I was 27 or 28. And thank God because if I had some of the stuff that I wanted, whenever I I was 18 I would have probably a Volkswagen for cramped stairs, here's what I wanted was a Volkswagen insignia with like a flaming sun around it. Like this is such a 91 tattoo that you're using, that the thing that I really wanted to get whenever I was around 18 1920, which I still don't think I would entirely regret was a full color, retro 1950s Reagan on my back hip like it's sticking out of my genes. Now, no, I thought that was super clever. I never got that. Also, a big thing that I should mention here is that tattooing was still illegal up until recently where I lived. So it was a really big deal to get tattoos you would have to drive across the stage. And then drive back imagine getting like a fresh new tattoo and then having to drive back home for hours.

Emily Thompson 5:56
Oh, my God.

Caitlin Brehm 5:57
Yeah, it was illegal for anybody.

Kathleen Shannon 6:00
Yeah, yeah. It was illegal up until probably just, I don't know, five years ago. Wow. For anybody. Wow, Oklahoma. This is might be interesting insight for you, listeners. I live in Oklahoma City. So I think most people assume I'm in Brooklyn or San Francisco or somewhere cool. I'm not I know. Oklahoma is cool in its own way. And in fact, whenever tattooing became legal, we got some really amazing tattoo artists that were coming into the stage, because there was such a market for it now. So that's been actually really interesting that we've attracted some of the best talent from across the world. But my first tattoo I actually got while I was at the house design conference in Austin, Texas. And I was either 27 or 28. I had my blog, which is and Kathleen or it was Jeremy and Kathleen at the time. So it was my personal blog, the ampersand was a big part of my brand. And I got a giant black ampersand on my ribs. It should be no surprise to anyone that Kathleen's first tattoo is a brand tattoo. Right? Just say what font that's important. font is actually bembo. Semi bold. So that's a b, e, b, e, m b MB O, which is kind of funny. You're that's a classic. That's like a classic serif typeface. There's actually a really cool website called Ben Bo's zoo, I should show it to my son Fox, because it shows it kind of creates a different little animal out of every single letter form. In the demo alphabet is really cute anyway. So that's the font. And it's probably a solid, I mean, four inches. Square big is big. After I had the outline done, I was with my best friend Liz at the time, who's my designer. And after the outline was done, I was like, This is good. I can just have the outline and she was like, you're getting this filled in. It was so awful. It hurts so bad. I was sweating. She was holding my hand the whole time. And really, so it's this ampersand for my branding. But then also, it was kind of the alternative to getting my boyfriend's name tattooed on my ass. Right? It very much is a tattoo, which I haven't actually told very many people, it's a tattoo for him. So sweet.

Emily Thompson 8:37
I love that and so not surprised.

Kathleen Shannon 8:40
Um, but I got that tattoo. And it's funny because my friends that I was with at the time at the conference, they both got typography tattoos. So Liz got like a three dots on her wrist and ellipses, ellipses. That's what that's called right. And then my friend, Mario got like some type of typographic brackets on his forearm. Now, anyway, I felt a little peer pressured into it, but I don't regret it a bit. It was so fun. And as I was getting that, that to you, I was working at an ad agency at the time. And I had a really big deal client that I would do their annual report every year, and I accidentally became pretty good friends with the the art director over there, who is kind of heading up the project. And he was down at the how to design conference to and just kind of stumbled into the tattoo place as I was getting my tattoo done. Not even knowing that I was there. I think maybe he saw me through the window getting the tattoo. So it's all highly inappropriate. And even though he's working at a place and like literally, my highest profile client walked in on me getting this tattoo, it was just no big deal. And it wasn't a big deal then and it's not a big deal now and it's fine.

Emily Thompson 10:00
was a fun story. I like that.

Kathleen Shannon 10:03
Okay, what's your what's your next tattoo Emily?

Emily Thompson 10:07
My next tattoo I got a year later a year after my first one, and it's on my right wrist. And it's, it's like a it goes all the way around my wrist. So it kinda looks like a little bracelet or like a line around my room.

Kathleen Shannon 10:20
I've heard that that's bad luck that that's like, um, like, in your next life, you won't have a hand because you drew a line around. Have you ever heard that? Have you guys heard that? Yeah, if you do a tattoo that's a solid line around a different around a certain body part, you're not going to have that body part in your next life.

Emily Thompson 10:41
Well, great, Well, apparently I will have no right hand. So I better come out left handed.

Kathleen Shannon 10:47
Okay, sorry, I can't cut you off. But it's a straight. It's a thin straight line. Same tattoo artist,

Emily Thompson 10:52
same tattoo artist. And it's just a simple line. But on the like inside of my arm. It is a there's it makes an L for Lily. Because she she's sweet. She does own me. So it was really funny about this as after I got mine, David loved it. And he went and got one two around his ankle so he

Kathleen Shannon 11:09
won't have a foot in his next slide.

Emily Thompson 11:12
So he won't have I guess a right foot and his next live will be a cute little couple, then two on a whole other level.

Kathleen Shannon 11:20
I wonder if any of our listeners have heard this? Let us know on our

Emily Thompson 11:25
story want to hear any more. I don't need to have that, like verified in any way, shape or form. So that's my second one. I got a year after that same guy on my birthday, or there abouts. And it's just a simple one. And my second favorite tattoo. I totally love it. You have a second one too, don't you?

Kathleen Shannon 11:47
Yeah, so I just got mine probably a year ago, or maybe a little over a year ago. And it's on the outside of my left wrist. And it is the phrase Wabi Sabi. So that's kind of the Japanese aesthetic for perfectly imperfect is probably a good way of putting it. But it's basically this idea that nothing is permanent. Everything is temporary, and that there is beauty in asymmetry. And there's beauty and impermanence. So you might actually think about it, you know, that Japanese aesthetic of whenever you crack a bowl, filling it with gold, like filling the cracks with gold, like that's kind of a Wabi Sabi idea, or even the way that an awning might patina you know, like a copper awning might patina with like some green over age. So that's like the the literal kind of aesthetic of it. But I love the idea of, you know, really embracing imperfections. And Funny enough, I decided to get this hat to you after we recorded our New Year's episode with Paul Jarvis and Jason suck. And we were talking about enjoying the process. And I really loved the idea of really enjoying what's imperfect about right now. And there was a lot that was imperfect in my life as far as just trying to be a mom and finding my role in that. And even just being a business owner, like what we're doing is not always easy. And there's a lot of standards to live up to as a creative and as a mom and as a woman. So, Wabi Sabi. And what's cool about it is that again, my best friend Liz, who was there with me for my first tattoo you, she's the one that taught me this phrase, and this idea, and she has really cool handwriting. And so I had her write it out. And I had her write it out about probably 10 times. Funny enough, she's my creative director over at braid creative, and I've been creative directing her for a long time. So I'm like giving her all these creative direction. Instructions on this tattoo for Wabi Sabi. And as I was starting to piece together different letter forms in Photoshop to create the perfect tattoo. I thought, you know what, I should just pick one and go with it, even if it's not perfect, because that's the whole point of this tattoo. So I got that tattoo you there was a local artist named Lauren Miller here in Oklahoma City that did that for me. And she also did a full sleeve tattoo for my husband that's really silly and cute, and she has really good blind work as well. So it's just a really simple little tattoo. It's probably about three inches wide and half an inch tall. So in this kind of really cute, not huge, but refined script typeface in my best friend's handwriting.

Emily Thompson 14:54
Love it.

Kathleen Shannon 14:56
How about you? What was your next what was your next one after that?

Emily Thompson 15:00
So I got my third and final for the moment tattoo for my 30th birthday, which is less than a year ago. And I got a rose and rosemary on my right shoulder like, back, shoulder shoulder back.

Kathleen Shannon 15:16
Whenever you would like on your shoulder blade.

Emily Thompson 15:18
Yes, there we go on my shoulder blade. And so this one's kind of funny. My grandmother has joked but not jugged for years that she really wanted a rose tattoo on her shoulder. And I always loved that idea. And so I partly got it not like in memory of her because she's still alive for sure. But almost like paying homage to my dear sweet grandmother a little bit, but also I love roses. And Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs. So I actually got it as the first part of what I hope grows into a half sleeve, or there abouts. So I don't know, I love tattoos. I think they're fantastic. It's also just simple line work as well. I think all my tattoos will probably be simple line work. And I've been thinking about what the second piece of this will be. I got this done by a local guy who, who will probably get to work on my shoulder some more. Maybe this year from our birthday. Oh, great. piece number two,

Kathleen Shannon 16:17
do you think you'll stay all black and white? Or do you think you'll ever introduce color?

Emily Thompson 16:22
I don't think so. I think it'll always be black and white. And like, I don't even think I'll ever really use any shading. Like I really like just simple black line work. And it freaks me out the idea of having one tattoo be so different from all my other tattoos like the aesthetic, like eye twitching that would go on with that would be really hard for me to look in the mirror at myself. So yeah, I love tattoos. And I love that. I love that we work in a way that allows us to, I don't know, express ourselves in whatever way we want here regardless of judgment, or regardless of like employee manuals that judge us like, if a piece of paper is gonna judge me, it's not gonna be the place for me.

Kathleen Shannon 17:05
So I've got my third tattoo coming up soon. It might already be done by the time this episode is released, but I think it'd be fun to share our tattoos on our Instagram account. What do you think? to that? So follow us on Instagram at being boss club. If you want to see photos of our tattoos.

Caitlin Brehm 17:27
Wait, but pause Kathleen Where are you getting this new tattoo might not be appropriate.

Kathleen Shannon 17:34
So it's going to be I'll give you guys some hints. It's going to be on the back of my arm, so above my elbow. And it's gonna be an homage to one of my favorite people in the whole world. And that's not my son. So I'll leave that to you guys. I'm sure that you guys can guess.

Emily Thompson 17:55
My first thought was Peewee Herman just

Kathleen Shannon 17:58
have I ever talked to Herman even one song?

Emily Thompson 18:04
I'm just telling you my first thought was peewee herban.

Kathleen Shannon 18:07
What was your first thought Caitlin?

Kathleen Shannon 18:09
I mean, I know the answer.

Caitlin Brehm 18:15
Then you don't get a second. All right. So follow us on Instagram. We'll share our tattoos. I mean, probably my one on my ribs is the most scandalous but it's not like I'm not already posting naked photos of myself. Like you

Emily Thompson 18:30
haven't already posted that on your blog. I'm saying that. I'm perfect. Yes, Instagram. Join us there and we'll show you our

Kathleen Shannon 18:38
tattoos and I would love to see your guys's tattoos as well. So tag being boss club on Instagram so that we can see your tattoos

Emily Thompson 18:49
as long as they're appropriate because that actually just started to freak me out a little Catholic Allah see the inappropriate ones for sure.

Kathleen Shannon 18:59
Hey, boss want even more actionable guidance from me and Emily, we're taking our expertise in branding, marketing and building profitable businesses to the being boss clubhouse. The clubhouse kicks off with a two day online retreat followed by a year of support and community. We've helped our clubhouse members get focused double their revenue, launch their dream offering and market themselves like a boss. Learn more at Again, that's

Emily Thompson 19:33
Did you like this minisode Be sure to check us out on our website at There you can find more from being boss including our full episodes minisodes and blog posts. And while you're there, be sure to sign up for our mailing list so that you can get access to behind the scenes and exclusive content from Kathleen and myself to help you be more boss in your work and life. Do the work be boss