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Salish Sea Sentinel | April 20, 2024

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Tla’amin member opens ‘tattoo spa’ in Powell River

Tla’amin member opens ‘tattoo spa’ in Powell River

When envisioning a stereotypical tattoo shop, many people would imagine things like skull decor, blaring rock music and bright neon lights.  
But Tla’amin member Francis Jr Luaifoa wanted to open a shop that made the experience of getting a tattoo more like a relaxing trip to the spa. 

Luaifoa recently opened JrOriginal Tattoo Spa in Powell River — a “one-stop wellness shop” that includes tattooing, a hair salon and an esthetician. 

The space is bright and calming, with a trickling waterfall fountain, soft calming music and lush greenery. 

At a small tiki bar setup in the corner, Luaifoa — a tattoo artist and barber — sits with clients to consult about tattoos.   

“I just wanted to make it a friendly environment for all ages to come in,” he said. 

“It’s kind of like a one-stop wellness shop. We want people to come in and do that whole round and step out feeling really good about themselves.” 

The concept of a “tattoo spa” is fairly unique, and combines the therapeutic and calming environment and treatments you would find at a spa with tattoo services. 

There’s a salon, mani and pedi station and private tattoo room where clients sit on a soft recliner chair and have the option to watch television while they’re getting ink done.  

“I envisioned it working, but it was an experiment,” Luaifoa said. 
“I wanted to see how it would all function together. But we’ve been doing really well.” 

Luaifoa has been an artist his entire life, and started out with tattooing by creating designs for friends. His signature style is inspired by his Polynesian and Coast Salish roots, creating striking black and grey pieces with hints of both styles. 

“I like our traditional tattoos, (and) integrating new things into our culture,” he said. 

“I don’t completely change the art, I just add that Polynesian twist.” 

Luaifoa put the shop together in an impressively short amount of time. He was working as a carpenter for about two decades before he decided to completely shift his career path to pursue his passions. 

In mid-2018, he completed a month-long entrepreneur training program at Tla’amin called the Sharing Circle Mentorship Entrepreneurship Program, then he moved full-steam ahead to secure funding, find a location and open the business. 

“There was nothing wrong with what I was doing before, but I wanted something different, I wanted to be my own boss,” he said. 

“You never know, in one year of your life you can just pick something you want to do and do it. It’s amazing what you can achieve if you apply yourself.”