Today we’d like to introduce you to Connie Ko.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Hi, I’m Connie and I am a cosmetic + paramedical tattoo artist. I opened my own studio late 2018 in Pasadena, CA (JellyLab™ Permanent Cosmetics) with the mission of helping people find love and confidence in themselves by enhancing lost and existing features. I specialize in natural cosmetic and medical pigmentation: Scalp Micropigmentation (restoring lost hairlines and density), Areola Restorative Tattooing, and Collagen Induction Scar Therapy/Camouflage, Lip, Eyebrow, and Eyeliner tattooing.
I graduated high school two years early and went to work full time in the fashion industry. Simultaneously I was attending FIDM in Downtown Los Angeles. I worked in fashion for a total of 15 years, starting from retail and merchandising, working my way into wholesale manufacturing and buying. From 2012 – 2019, I was working as the Creative Director of a major retail company. I was in charge of all the brand concepts and visual executions equalling to a lot of photoshoots, models, makeup artists, and mood boards. I think that is when I really cultivated my love for beauty and was able to train my eye to catch the tiniest details while being able to see everything as whole.
How I got into permanent makeup is a funny story. Late 2017, my fiancé (now husband) started showing signs of balding. While looking for a solution, I found out about Scalp Micropigmentation through my current mentor, Cindy Vu (who was my eyebrow permanent makeup artist). She suggested that I learn this technique, but it was so foreign to me at the time. I was at the peak of my career so it didn’t make sense. Taking that class would require missing work and investing thousands of dollars, but I knew if it wasn’t me, I wouldn’t be able to help my husband. I took the class and my husband was my demo model aka guinea pig. The smile I saw on his face after he saw the mirror was so priceless and I will never be able to forget that feeling.
After that class, I continuously took on clients through word of mouth and referrals from Cindy. She offered a room for me to work out of and gave me unconditional support. While working a full-time job, I dedicated my weekends to taking clients and driving from LA to Garden Grove. Being in that environment, I fell in love more and more every weekend and I wished for this to be my daily routine. After a couple of months, I was hungry to learn more so I trained in Areola Restorative Tattooing and Collagen Induction Scar Therapy. The next year, I trained in the cosmetic tattooing under Cindy Vu at Beauty Elements.
It was never meant to be a career change and it’s something I wasn’t necessarily looking for. I had a steady 6-figure job with benefits and stability, so it wasn’t something I had considered changing, but I loved what I was able to do. I always feel the most fulfillment when I know I’ve made a positive contribution, whether it may be helping someone or simply making someone smile. I used to feel that way in my fashion career when I saw how people responded to the lines I would help create. I lost my passion the more I heard about the environmental detriments, child labor, and poor working conditions in the industry so in 2018, I took the leap of faith and quit my job and opened my studio in Pasadena.
It hasn’t been an easy journey, but nothing worth it is easy. Every time I’ve experienced failure, it motivated me to be better. It gave me direction. I’ve always thought I was lucky and I still do, but now I realize that luck is when opportunity meets preparation. I believe that I have prepared myself with hard work, dedication, and sacrifices to be able to recognize the opportunities that present themselves to me.
Now I am dedicated to my craft, working on clients and training other artists.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely has been a crazy ride with many ups and downs. For one, I remember setting up my studio in Pasadena. I signed the lease in mid 2018 with plans of opening shortly after. I had already obtained a business license with the City of Pasadena and was in the process of getting approved by the Health Department only to find out that my studio location wasn’t properly zoned for my type of business. Permanent cosmetics falls under the same category as “tattoo shops” and have many regulations. It took me three months to get the area zoned, so I lost a lot of unexpected time and money. I felt defeated but didn’t give up and now I’m operating a fully licensed and approved studio.
Going from a steady and stable 6 figure salary career to a self-employment isn’t an easy task. There are no benefits, no steady income, and comes with full responsibility. I never knew having your own business came with so many responsibilities, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
JellyLab Permanent Cosmetics – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
JELLYLAB™ is a specialized beauty studio located in Pasadena, California. The mission is to promote confidence, advocate self-care, and encourage empowerment through our services. I am especially proud to say that we provide the most up to date techniques, devices with the best quality equipment and supplies.
I think what sets me apart is that I care about everyone who walks through my door. It’s more than working on lips and eyebrows, it’s the conversation and connections I make with the people who own them. Something about tattooing is very intimate and it makes people open up and be vulnerable. Especially when we partake insensitive procedures like areola tattooing, our conversations end with us crying together. I think people just really want someone to listen without judgment or pity. Some of these people have gone through so much that I feel grateful for the opportunity to give back. It’s an irreplaceable feeling.
My most popular treatments are:
- LIPJELLY™ : Enhances color, defines shape, and creates fullness to your lips. It softly defines your natural lip line and creates the illusion of a more symmetrical pout while adding a beautiful shade. We are able to color correct the pale / dark uneven hues in your lips.
- Eyebrow Tattooing : Each treatment is catered to each individual and their needs. Everyone has different skin types and tones with different facial features so one size does not fit all here. We specialize in Microblading, Ombre Powder, Micro-shading, and Digital Hairstrokes.
- Scalp Micropigmentation : Restores lost hairlines and density for both men and women. Whether it is natural hair loss or because of medical conditions such as alopecia and cancer, this treatment can do wonders. It is also able to cover up scars from accidents and hair transplant procedures.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Top moment was being able to restore a dog bite scar on a client’s lip. My client was attacked by a dog two years ago and almost lost his lower lip. He went through many reconstructive surgeries but said he still felt like something was missing. Although the surgeries were successful, he had lost the definition and color of his bottom lip and I was able to give that back to him with my LIPJELLY™ technique. When he told me that he felt like himself again, the feeling I felt was priceless.
- LIPJELLY : 500
- EYEBROW : 500
- SCALP MICROPIGMENTATION : Varies, Free consultation required
- LASH LINER : 400
- LIPJELLY COURSE : 2500
- PRIVATE TRAINING : Varies
- Address: JellyLab Permanent Cosmetics
300 E Colorado Blvd. #241 Studio 111
Pasadena, CA 91101
- Website: www.jellylab.la
- Phone: 949-229-5396
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @jellylab.la ; @browjelly
- Facebook: Jellylab.LA ; Browjelly