Twist on Branding with Briana of Buju Tattoo

Ah, the beauty of Twist on PR. We can talk about anything and everything while bringing it back to our core, public relations.  Like PR, branding is always needed whether it be personal or for an organization or business.

Branding can be defined as making a mark. We all make our mark in different ways, but some more than others. Briana Sargent has created a brand for herself and her business while helping others make their mark with her artistry.

I’m not usually a fan of tattoos with color, but after following Briana’s Instagram account, my opinion changed. It showcases some of the most impressive tattoo artistry I’ve seen and it makes me want to hop on a plane to San Diego to get a piece done. So, without further ado here is my interview with Briana, Founder of Buju Tattoo.   

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How did you end up in this career path? What drew you in?

I grew up with sketchbook in hand. I doodled on everything. My best friend, Conneticut-based singer/songwriter James Maple, started asking me to draw tattoo designs for him. We would go to the tattoo shop together, and I would watch him get my drawings tattooed on his skin. Watching tattoo artists tattoo my drawings made me realize I wanted to manifest the entire tattoo process from idea to inception to completion.


Tell us what it was like giving someone a tattoo for the first time?

It was so exciting! The first tattoo I did was on my college roommate. She was a mover and a shaker, always on the go. We used to say she had ants in her pants, so I tattooed an army of ants marching right out of her pants! 

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Do you think that tattoos are becoming more accepted in the workplace?

Tattoos are more than welcome in my workplace! I do believe tattoos are becoming more and more common with today’s generation, and I see more and more tattooed people on the staffs at coffee shops, eateries and other hip business establishments all over San Diego; so, I would say in some industries, yes, tattoos are becoming more accepted. But in older more conservative corporate business atmospheres, I think long sleeves and covered tattoos are often still preferred.

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I fell in love with your work because of Instagram. How have you utilized social media for your business? What outlet seems to work best for you?

We have a nice following on our Facebook Page, where, until I teamed up with a professional social media strategist, we were generally just posting images of tattoos we’ve done in the shop and special promotions from time to time. We also have an Instagram account for the shop @Buju_Tattoo, which the artists manage, and each of the lady tattooers has her own personal Instagram account. Mine is @Briana_Buju_Tattoo. We opened a Twitter account a few years ago @BujuTattoo, but that was as far as we got with Twitter!

Recently while tattooing one of my regular clients, Carmen Caserta, she told me about the new digital branding and social media business she recently launched, Red Stiletto Strategies. I was intrigued! She expressed an interest in taking the Buju Tattoo social media presence to the next level, so we had a little dinner meeting the next night. Carmen’s knowledge of social media was obvious, and her passion and excitement to work with me on growing Buju Tattoo’s presence on social media were infectious! It was the start of something beautiful!

Carmen and I agreed to trade services, and it is a wonderful trade that wouldn’t work if I didn’t love her company. We correspond daily, and talk, laugh and bond while tattooing. She’s hard-working and honest, and she embraces and intuitively understands the image I would like to create and maintain for Buju Tattoo, and she fits right in!

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How have you branded yourself and your business? Do you think that social media played a major role in this? 

Most importantly, I’ve branded my business as a welcoming and un-intimidating place to hang out and get tattooed. Buju Tattoo is a warm-hearted, unpretentious atmosphere filled with beautiful art, beautiful people, crystals, flowers, flowing ivy and beautiful plants and bestowed with the loving presence of my beautiful muse – my pit bull girl Buju.

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Social media has definitely played a major role in branding my business. People travel from all over the country and the world to get tattooed by me, and it is because they have found me and my work on social media. Instagram seems to be where I get the most likes and comments; but since my collaboration with Carmen of Red Stiletto Strategies started, our Facebook Page and Twitter account have taken off, too! She creates meaningful, engaging and fun content that so accurately reflects the Buju Tattoo spirit and aesthetic, and she interacts with people in such a cheerful and meaningful way. Now those platforms are feeling more like an online community rather than a place to merely advertise. All of those elements of social media – content, tone, aesthetic, and the types of content Carmen retweets and engages with on Twitter contribute to branding the tattoo shop by reflecting our personalities, our interests, our values and our work. Now we’re getting ready to launch on Pinterest, so that is very exciting!


Why do you think that branding is important for a tattoo artist or shop?

I think getting tattooed is more than just finding someone with a style that you like– it’s about connecting with the artist, and feeling comfortable in the environment. The way we as shop owners brand our tattoo shops has a huge influence on the types of clientele we will attract and the reputation we will create for our business, so I think it’s important to be intentional and thoughtful about the messages we convey and the images we portray.


How do you think social media, more specifically Pinterest, has affected the tattoo industry?

I haven’t explored Pinterest yet, so I’m extremely excited about Carmen launching our profile soon. I do know Pinterest provides a wonderful search tool for clients. Lots of people bring in references from Pinterest. I’m excited to learn more about how it all works!


What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs and aspiring tattoo artists?

Draw a lot! Tattoo only if it’s what you absolutely want to do! It is very time-consuming, and is only fully enjoyed if you absolutely love what you do. Find a shop that you feel comfortable in and artists you connect with. I work with my best friends, and every day is a party!

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What song would you say best represents you/inspires you the most?

Fever Ray’s WHEN I GROW UP. She sings about wanting to be embraced by nature. Nothing inspires me more than plants, animals, ocean, travel. I just went to Maui and swam with sea turtles. I get to do a tattoo of sea turtles in a few weeks, and I am so inspired! It was one of the most beautiful, magical experiences that I’ve ever been a part of.

Be sure to give Briana and Buju Tattoo a follow on all social media sites! It’ll bring some beauty into that timeline of yours. 🙂

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