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Meet Katie Flashner of The Girl with the Tree Tattoo in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Flashner.

Katie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
The Girl with the Tree Tattoo blog and brand came into existence in 2015, but the story begins years earlier. My first exposure to ballroom dancing was in 2011. My then-fiance and I were taking lessons for our 1920s-themed wedding. I was immediately hooked.

I had loved dancing my whole life, but the way you connect with a partner in ballroom and then move together as one to music spoke to my soul. My partner was less than enamored, but he didn’t mind me picking up regular lessons on my own at the end of 2012.

The drudgery of working in a corporate office had dampened my passion for life. The routine of getting up, going to work, going home, and repeating the next day had set me firmly in a rut, without an idea of who I really was or what I wanted to do with my life. I carried on doing what I thought I was supposed to do or what others wanted me to do.

Ballroom dancing sparked a new passion in me, and that spark revived forgotten dreams like dancing on stage, becoming a published author and completing a tree of life tattoo idea I had carried with me since high school.

I started blogging to flex my writing muscles. In 2013, I danced on stage with my first dance teacher for a studio showcase just seven months after beginning lessons again. That tree of life idea finally came together, and in 2014, a tattoo artist brought my vision to life. The tree tattoo covered my entire back, and people started calling me “The Girl with the Tree Tattoo.”

I liked the sound of it, so I switched my blog to that name. I finally found my niche in the ballroom world when I was introduced to competitive ballroom. I thrived on the mix of art and sport and quickly found success on the competition floor, consistently winning 1st and 2nd places.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
When you first start learning ballroom, you think you’re just going to learn how to dance. In reality, you go through a personal transformation that can’t be replicated. In the six years I’ve been training in ballroom, I’ve been forced to face deep-set fears and doubts about myself. I’ve reconnected with my true self and discovered a greater purpose.

Definitely NOT an easy road, but along the way, I’ve gained confidence in who I am and have become unwilling to compromise that identity. It’s not easy staying true to myself as a ballroom dancer or an entrepreneur for that matter. There is a lot of pressure to conform to the way things are usually done, but that way doesn’t always feel right to my journey.

A great example is my tattoo. As soon as it was complete, I couldn’t wait to show it off in a backless dress at competitions. I was warned that more traditional judges may not like my tattoo on display and it could hurt my results, I stood firm. I would not hide part of who I was to make others more comfortable.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
The blog that started as just a way for me to document my journey and stretch my creative writing muscles became a source of inspiration and motivation for other amateur ballroom dancers. As I went through various challenges, including mental and emotional, I knew I couldn’t be the only one; but no one else was talking. So I use the Girl with the Tree Tattoo blog to shine a light on those shadowy places and let others know that they’re not alone.

I wanted to take my passions for writing and dancing and turn them into my life’s work, so the Girl with the Tree Tattoo went from blog to brand. I also fulfilled my dream of becoming a published author. I’ve published three books so far: Dance Diaries: Learning Ballroom Dance, Dance Diaries: Ballroom Budgeting, and most recently, the Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing. Each one was written to provide value in an area where information is hard to come by.

As The Girl with the Tree Tattoo, I am passionate and committed to helping my fellow dancers boost their confidence while discovering the dancer within by providing inspiration from my own journey with a healthy dose of practicality. My ultimate mission is to inspire and enable others to stay true to themselves and not allow fear or doubt hold them back from pursuing their passions.

One of my proudest moments happened this year. When I competed in the World Championships in 2017, I received my lowest placement in my competitive career. My ego was crushed. After sulking for a couple of weeks, I got back to work. That “defeat” became the catalyst that pushed me to uplevel my solo practice strategies and create The Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing.

When I returned to the World Championships in 2018, I won my division. The part I was especially proud of was that I did it my way. My tattoo was on display, and I danced for no one’s approval except my own. It was everything this brand stands for!

What were you like growing up?
Even though I was painfully shy as a child, I always loved dance. My parents had put me in ballet, jazz and tap classes when I was about six years old, but when we moved across the country when I was 8, I was too scared to start over at a new dance studio. So I told my mom I didn’t want to dance anymore.

Letting my fear get in the way of what I loved to do became my biggest regret until I redeemed myself with ballroom. Despite the deep love for dance, I was never a “girly girl.” I played soccer and swam competitively in elementary and high school. I went hiking and camping with my family. I was an introvert with social anxiety, so I didn’t have a lot of friends.

The ones I did have were very close. I’ve always preferred to have a few close friends rather than have a huge number of acquaintances. I loved to read, often having several books on my nightstand that I was reading simultaneously. I was also more comfortable expressing myself through the written word.

If you had told me when I was a kid that as an adult, I’d be dressing up in brightly colored gowns covered in rhinestones, I would have laughed. If you told me I’d be dancing for audiences and winning dance competitions in those rhinestones, I would have laughed at that too, but secretly prayed you were right.

I’m still introverted and socially anxious, but dance and writing give me ways to escape those anxious chains and be my true self.


  • Dance Diaries: Learning Ballroom Dance (digital book)- $4.99
  • Dance Diaries: Ballroom Budgeting (digital book) – $5.99
  • The Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing (digital or printed book) – $67

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Gary Flashner, Charles Ryder Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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