Art was Lenny Floyd’s passion as she grew up in Greenwood. She always had a sketchbook at the ready for drawing, coloring and painting.
So when it came time to choose what to do after high school, she headed to the Herron School of Art & Design at IUPUI, with an eye toward art education.
But she was always interested in tattooing. And when a chance meeting led to an opportunity to become an apprentice to tattoo artist Bradford Smith, who then had a shop in Franklin, she jumped at it.
Floyd, now 34, worked at the shop—True Grit Ink—for five years before deciding to go out on her own. In May 2016, she opened the Salty Siren Tattoo Lounge at 480 E. Main St. in Greenwood.
“I think it was the evolution of my artistic journey,” she said. “I always envisioned, fantasized about, having my own place.”
She now has three other tattoo artists working with her.
What was the hardest thing about opening a tattoo shop?
You have to do all the logistical things correctly—have your ducks in a row with the health department and have a good setup and be financially ready. But I think the hardest part is putting yourself out there and doing the whole sink-or-swim thing. … You have to build your own confidence and just trust in your own process and your own dreams.
How is your shop different from other tattoo parlors?
Salty Siren Tattoo Lounge is individual and unique in the sense that we’re a place that really prides itself on being a very welcoming, neutral space for everybody. There’s a lot of apprehension and sometimes timidity with people going into tattoo shops.
So we always want Salty Siren to provide … wonderful top-of-the-line, custom-made tattoos for the clients. But we also want a space where everybody feels welcome, invited, taken care of. I think we have phenomenal customer service and client rapport.
Do you get a lot of first-time tattoo clients?
We do a lot of first tattoos—and that usually opens the door to repeat customers. We also have people who are working on larger projects, like sleeves and back pieces. I would say it’s probably half and half.
What are you asked for the most?
People ask for a lot of flowers. That’s pretty popular.
Memorial tattoos are always a big thing. I think with tattoos, people are trying to capture a moment or represent an experience. They’re celebrating something or they’re remembering something.
Lots of people get tattoos for their children. … Some people get them to mark either their or someone else’s battle with an illness, like getting a cancer ribbon.
How was Salty Siren affected by the pandemic?
We had to be completely shut down—from March 21 through May 26. It was almost a full eight weeks, which was pretty nerve-wracking, because there are certain points where you wonder about the future of the business. Are we ever going to open again? Is tattooing ever going to be the same as we knew it?
But I tried to bright-side it as much as possible and enjoy the extra time with my children and focus on my own artwork, which I don’t get to do too often. When we got to open back up, it was amazing.
Has your business returned to pre-pandemic levels?
Our business has returned to pre pandemic levels and then tenfold. I’ve never been more booked out in my entire career. I’m booked out right now until February 2022.•