Two Roses Tattoo Co.: Lansing’s newest body art shop that focuses on health education

Ten years ago, Sarah Trofather got in the tattoo chair to get a half-sleeve inked by Solomon Trofather – but they almost gave up on the tattoo because she couldn’t stand it.

Solomon Trofather said they came close to never speaking again because they couldn’t agree on the changes he wanted to make to her piece. They ended up with a tattoo that Sarah Trofather loves, but joke that they almost didn’t get there.

“We didn’t speak the same language,” Sarah Trofather said. “It took a lot of effort to get to this point. And then this great friendship grew. We ended up really connecting.”

A decade later, Sarah Trofather quit her job to open Two Roses Tattoo Co. with Solomon Trofather, who is now her husband. Their store, located at 125 E. Kalamazoo St. in Lansing, will open in early December.

The name of the store is a tribute of Solomon Trofather to his wife – her middle name is Rose. Their early disagreement shaped their business model, which aims to bridge multiple gaps: the misunderstanding between artists and clients, the disconnect between business and community, and the struggles new artists face in the industry.

Solomon Trofather has been tattooing since he was a child, drawing his friends with a homemade machine. He fully immersed himself in the industry in 2004 – joining Splash of Color as the shop was gaining momentum, creating work in pristine conditions unknown to the Lansing area tattoo scene at the time.

Two Roses Tattoo Co. is three miles from the MSU campus. Solomon Trofather, who has a Spartan helmet tattooed on his cheekbone, chose the location in part because of its proximity to East Lansing’s younger population.

“There’s not a great apprenticeship program anywhere out there right now,” he said. “We want to put a lot of energy into it.”

The store will offer a solid educational program for young artists who have not yet “found their footing.” Solomon wants to counter the lack of qualifications needed to break into the body art industry by creating more informed career artists.

“There’s a very random set of standards that you have to get to,” Solomon Trofather said. “They all have nothing to do with being a good tattoo artist.”

Michigan state law requires body art shops to be properly licensed, but an individual state license is not required to become a tattoo artist.

In addition to providing 401k, retirement and health insurance education to young artists, Trofatters will place a heavy emphasis on the mental health of employees and apprentices.

“Many artists struggle with mental health and addiction,” said Solomon Trofather. “It’s huge in the tattoo community… It’s so addictive.

The store will also offer laser tattoo removal, as well as the opportunity for those in need to receive this service for free.

“We’re going to work to offer (laser removal) for people who are just looking for a fresh start and just need a little help getting there,” Sarah Trofather said. “Whether they’re getting out of a bad situation for any number of reasons.”

Solomon Trofather said downtown Lansing has a unique opportunity for a fresh start right now as the community recovers from the impact of COVID-19. By partnering with many Lansing nonprofits, he hopes to be a part of that change.

“This whole downtown has a chance in the next five years to become something really different,” Solomon Trofather said. “Both engaging and community-driven. And just great.”

Downtown Community Development Director Julie Reinhardt said the store’s commitment to mentoring and community engagement fits perfectly with the culture she’s trying to create.

The pandemic, she said, has given the city a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to rebuild a 24-hour, sustainable hub where small businesses can get started.

Visually Two Roses Tattoo Co. it will have an Art Deco vibe, “a bit of spikes in the front, but in the back, a bit of spice”.

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“If (customers) are looking for a higher-end tattoo experience, they’re going to get it here,” Sarah Trofather said. “If you’re a tattoo collector looking for an authentic, more historical tattoo experience, we want to offer that as well.”

Their goal is to make the store a convenient place for everyone who walks through the door, no matter what they’re looking for.

“We want to take care of our artists and we want to take care of our community,” Solomon Trofather said.


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