Iron & Ink is officially in LA to stay with its first U.S location.
Image: Ed Batres

Long gone are the days when tattoos were a symbol that meant you were somehow part of the dark underbelly of society. We’ve done a complete 180. These days, it’s hard to imagine tattoos not being synonymous with popular mainstream trends. Now, if someone wants to make a fashion statement, they are more likely to get a new tattoo than they are to buy some new clothes.

As the number of both men and women who don tattoos continues to rise, so too does the number of tattoo parlors in the United States. A simple glance at some statistics should be enough to show just how intertwined this pastime has become with our culture.

The Hollywood Sign

Danish entrepreneurs Hawaro Juul and Rasmus Cort Hansen know how important tattoos are to almost every culture. The pair recently brought their brand of “Nordic Cool” to Los Angeles in the form of a cozy, minimalistic tattoo shop on Melrose. Iron & Ink opened its first location in Denmark back in 2010. Together, the pair took their love for tattoos and combined it with their sense for business—which in turn is leveling up the tattoo game.

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Since first opening in 2010, Iron & Ink has expanded to several locations throughout Denmark. Rasmus was born and raised in Denmark. Hawaro came to Denmark as a child with his family as Kurdish refugees. The pair says that their different cultural backgrounds allow them to turn the best of both worlds into one successful universe.

Headquartered in Copenhagen, Iron & Ink is the largest tattoo shop in Europe. As its popularity rises, crossing over into the United States seems like the logical next step. On Friday, October 18, Iron & Ink finally made its U.S. debut. Juul and Hansen officially opened their flagship location on Melrose Avenue, kicking things off with a special VIP event. The luxury experience, mixed with Scandinavian design, gave those in attendance a taste of what to expect here in Los Angeles.

Image: Ed Batres

A European Adventure

In Europe, Iron & Ink is well-known for its celebrity clientele. Everyone who steps foot into its shops, whether it’s athletes, actors, or influential customers, receives an “A-List” experience. The handpicked tattoo artists who are joining the U.S. team are carrying on the high standards and European traditions. Those on board have worked with celebrities like Chris Brown, Drake, Odell Beckham, and Messi, just to name a few. On opening night, tattoo artist Robert Menje was among those on site. He was offering up his expertise to select guests who were hoping to walk away with a permanent reminder of the evening and its festivities.

On opening night, Juul described how he first fell in love with Los Angeles back in 2015. He laughed, saying that back then he was actually looking at the exact location where Iron & Ink now exists. “The former owner called me in June and told me he was going to sell it,” Juul told The Burn-In during the grand opening. “We’ve been expanding in Denmark, and we’ve been growing at 100 percent these past four years,” he continued. “There was really no room left to grow in Denmark, so, I thought; why not just take the chance?”

Image: Ed Batres

Juul packed his stuff, came to the States, signed the lease, and got started. “I’m trying to keep [the atmosphere] simple and clean,” he said. Iron & Ink also highlights artwork. The art adds another element to the vibe, showcasing an overall passion for all things artistic. It certainly opens up the potential to utilize the space and incorporate art shows in the future. Looking at other events like Punk Rock & Paintbrushes, or even festivals such as Musink, opens up the imagination to some exciting possibilities for what’s to come.

Arm Candy

On top of offering tattoos, Juul and Hansen also own a barbershop and a skincare line for tattoo aftercare called Sorry Mom. “Hopefully, we can grow that as well. It’s a really good product,” Juul says. “Everybody who uses it loves it.”

While he couldn’t discuss too much about it, they’ll be launching a new product from their line in a few weeks.

The U.S. debut of Iron & Ink proved to be a big success. Notable attendees included Kendall Schmidt (actor/singer), Morten Breum (celebrity DJ), Ashley Everett (Beyoncé dance captain), JR Taylor (choreographer/dancer), Jayden Robinson (model), Ash Minor (musician), Anthony Woods (athlete), and Naz Tokio (reality star from E!)

Juul closed things out by reminiscing about his very first tattoo that was done 15 years ago. “My first one was a tribal with my name,” he recalled. “I got it on my shoulder blades when I was 16 years old. I’ve had it covered since,” he said and then smiled. “We get older, we get smarter; that’s how it is.”

 

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Sari Cohen is a journalist based in the Greater L.A. Area. She began her career in the entertainment industry as a stand-up comedy writer/performer and over the years has developed scripts for both the stage and screen. She currently covers music and live entertainment for AXS, reviews movies for Hollywood First Look Features and writes for InLove Magazine. She also pens funny stuff for popular sites such as Cracked and Screen Rant. You can often find her at concerts or on a red carpet somewhere, talking to someone about something. From on-the-scene reporting to exclusive interviews, she tackles every topic from music, movies and television, to fashion, lifestyle and politics. You can check out more on Twitter at @ask_sari or follow her adventures on Instagram under @thesavvyscribbler.