A global increase in tattoo ink sales has turned what used to be thought of as a taboo business into a successful business model in downtown Killeen.
Lajuan Najar and her husband Rudy opened LaRude’s Tattoos in Killeen 14 years ago when there only a handful of tattoo parlors in the area.
“Now I think there are 30, 35, 40 shops so it’s kind of become a mecca,” Lajuan said.
Leaving her former career of 35 years as a registered nurse, Lajuan opened the business with her husband Rudy who served in the Navy until 1988.
When they first opened their doors, it was a time when military deployments out of nearby Fort Hood were high.
Lajuan said that they stayed in touch with them “so we could send care packages or whatever we needed to do.”
While the proximity to Fort Hood continues to fuel the popularity of tattoo parlors in Killeen, Lajuan and Rudy say it’s the connections they form with their customers that truly makes them a success.
“We have many memorials, many celebrations of births, many people wanting to remember people they may have lost in the war, in the military, so I think it’s important to remember it’s not just art. It’s a relationship,” Lajuan said.