Paradise Tattoo lost? Two women with skin in the game look to rebuild Fort Myers Beach shop
Paradise Tattoo, an award-winning tattoo shop, served a national clientele on Fort Myers Beach for nearly 12 years.
Hurricane Ian destroyed many businesses, leaving them to figure out where to go and how to stay in business: including Paradise Tattoo.
Dawn Webb is the owner and a tattoo artist at Paradise Tattoo. The business hasn’t been operating since Hurricane Ian destroyed its home in Sea Grape Plaza.
“We’ve got bills to pay. Life doesn't stop, but thankfully we have been doing a lot of art projects,” Webb said.
Webb and Sam Taylor, an artist at Paradise Tattoo, had to walk over the bridge going to Fort Myers Beach and through all the destruction to see the business once the storm passed.
“We were a little bit prepared as we approached as we were walking, we knew this was going to be terrible,” Webb said.
Webb and Taylor didn’t expect what they saw when they arrived at their destroyed storefront.
“It looked like a bomb went off in the shop,” Webb said.
The back wall of the tattoo shop blew out and the remaining space contained the damage, including debris blown in from different businesses in the area.
Webb said she and Taylor have been working hard to find a new store front.
Many other plazas on and near Fort Myers Beach suffered damages, so the search has been limited.
“We've been kind of on the back burner as a priority,” Webb said. “Everyone's dealing with their own stuff.”
Despite this, Paradise Tattoo’s global clientele has shown its support as Webb and Taylor search for a new location for their business.
Webb said that people contact her everyday and ask when Paradise Tattoo will reopen.
“We can’t keep up with the emails,” she said.
Webb said she’s been amazing by the support she has received from the community, as Paradise Tattoo continues to rebuild
The business has a fundraiser on GoFundMe that was started by guests she met at ShipRocked, a rock-and-roll themed cruise.
Homestretch Sportswear, a company from Ohio, even made t-shirts for Paradise Tattoo and other businesses on the beach. A portion of the t-shirt sales help support the businesses, which receive the proceeds monthly.
“I was always struggling in the past with asking for help, but with something as severe as this you have to take it,” Webb said. “We can’t do this by ourselves.”
Taylor said that after the hurricane, lots of her customers tried to contact her to make sure she was safe.
“I had some people from out of state who asked if we were alive,” Taylor said. “I was shocked by the amount of support that we've gotten. It's just been amazing and heartwarming.”
A tattoo company donated tattoo supplies for Paradise Tattoo to use once it reopens.
“When we reopen, we'll have pretty much everything we need as far as just the tattooing stuff to get started,” Webb said.
Even Riki Rachtman, who hosted MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball, reached out to Webb to ask how Paradise Tattoo was after the storm.
“I tattooed him here a few years ago and he made a post on Facebook,” Webb said. “Just the support from unexpected people that you think you know don't even notice you.”
Webb said despite the challenges the business is facing in finding a new storefront, the customers motivate her to keep pushing forward.
“People are counting on Paradise Tattoo coming back,” Webb said.
Webb and Taylor hope to find a location in an area surrounded by other local businesses, rather than chain stores.
“We realized that there's a certain vibe that we're looking for. Like a family, homey vibe,” Webb said.
Taylor said that she and Webb hope to reopen as soon as they can.
“We’re still opening. We’re still here, we haven’t given up,” Taylor said. “From the outside, it might not look like much is happening, but a lot is happening behind the scenes.”
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