Cash Combs never planned to be a tattoo artist. The tattoo gun a friend bought him on his 18th birthday sat in his closet for more than a year.
Combs, now 20 and the owner of Cash Combs Tattoo Shop in Satellite Beach, found it again one day with his friends, and gave one of them his first tattoo. It was a drawing of a hand in a “shaka” sign – the surfing-associated gesture of a closed fist with an extended thumb and pinkie finger.
“It just started to escalate,” Combs said. “My friends started to notice, and I started doing more and more, and then I went for it, I kind of chased the dream.”
He opened his shop Dec. 9 with savings he earned working at Publix. In his first four weeks open, he’s served 20 clients. He specializes in realistic grey and white tattoos and has appointments booked through March.
“I love the art of it,” Combs said. “It’s just really cool to have people travel and your art goes places. I’ve made art that’s been to Japan, and I’ve never been to Japan.”
Combs graduated from Satellite High in 2018. Before starting his own shop, he helped manage his uncle’s restaurant, Cibelli’s Pizza Republic in Satellite Beach. In addition to running the tattoo shop, Combs is also studying as a full-time business student at Eastern Florida State College.
“If I’m waiting for somebody else or in the mornings, I do my schoolwork, so I bring a laptop with me,” he said. “I do work in between sessions.”
Combs’ father was an early supporter, allowing him to practice his tattoos on him including a tiger, a rose and a self-portrait of Combs himself.
“He always pushed me,” Combs said. “He gave me a canvas at all times and supported me, told me when I was doing good and when I was doing bad.”
Combs expects it to take several months to turn a profit with his new business. Luckily, it didn’t cost much to start; he works out of a small, single-room studio.
“That’s the cool thing with it, there’s really not a lot of overhead with tattooing,” Combs said. “It’s just equipment and there’s just a lot of time you put in because you bring work home with you. You’re always messaging people (booking appointments), but I love it. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
Combs said starting a business in 2020 was “definitely scary.” But he wanted people to see that it can be done.
“I’ve noticed that life kind of happens for you, and not to you,” Combs said. “I had to basically chase the dream, I couldn’t let it pass me by. I couldn’t just wait for it to happen.”
Bailey Gallion is the business and development reporter for FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Gallion at 321-242-3786 or email@example.com.