Nevada State Bank extends its congratulations to our client, Critical Tattoo, for being named the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Exporter of the Year for the Nevada District Office. Based in Carson City, Critical Tattoo is a manufacturer of equipment and products used by professional tattoo artists.

Founded in 2005 by Kenneth and Sarah Brown, Critical Tattoo provides American-made, precision engineered tattoo products to tattoo artists around the world. The company maintains a complete engineering lab, a machine shop, electronics assembly facilities, and a graphics design studio that “allows us to keep overseas outsourcing to the absolute minimum,” according to owner Kenneth Brown.

The idea for Critical Tattoo was born when Kenneth Brown took an interest in tattoos. An engineer by trade, he recognized the equipment tattoo artists were using at the time could be improved. After tinkering with new designs and quitting his engineering job to become an apprentice in a tattoo parlor in 2005, Kenneth and his wife Sarah committed to making Critical Tattoo a reality.

“We gathered all of our money, moved into our space and incorporated. We did everything that month, and failure was not an option,” Sarah Brown explained during a recent interview. Sarah brought extensive management experience to the new business, while Kenneth brought the product design expertise – a business synergy that has delivered award-winning results for this Nevada success story.

The business has grown from the two original owners, and now employs seven other Nevada residents, with future growth anticipated. In 2012, the business’ revenues grew 40% over the previous year’s growth, and the company is poised for future expansion with an extensive new line of products that debuted in early 2013.

Critical Tattoo Leaves Its Mark on Body Art

Sarah Brown sat down to talk about the achievements of Critical Tattoo. “75% of what we produce is sold on every continent exceptAntarctica,” Brown stated. “We substantially improved the equipment tattoo artists use. It’s sleek, compact and takes up less space. Our equipment is easier to protect against cross-contamination. We also developed a wireless foot pedal with a 5-year battery life.” Critical Tattoo’s commitment to innovation has enabled the company to grow quickly, though, as Sarah explained, it wasn’t always easy.

“We bootstrapped ourselves to get started…then turned for help to Nevada State Bank’s Relationship Manager, Teresa Shouppe,” she said. “Teresa was great in helping us get a line of credit, which we figured would help us with an unforeseen opportunity, like a large order. We formerly were with a large bank, but we couldn’t find anyone there to help us.”

Critical Tattoo continues to plan for future success with the assistance of their current Relationship Manager at Nevada State Bank, Jeri Johnson.  “Our equipment, made in America, is built solidly and will last for a long time,” explained Sarah, “so we’re branching into several other areas, including screen printing ventures where we help clients with an art tattoo by enhancing it for wearable apparel. We’re also involved with our parent company, Insight Mfg. Systems Inc. in product development.  If someone has a machine or a product they’d like to develop, we help with all aspects, from idea to full production.”

Critical Tattoo: Leaving Its Mark

High-tech companies like Critical Tattoo are diversifying our state’s economy, creating jobs and discovering the benefits of doing business in our state, and with a bank that works for client success.

Its business model requires flexible financing to take on new products, expand sales, and to continue to develop equipment for tattoo artists around the globe. If your small business requires products and services to facilitate growth, contact Nevada State Bank at any branch, on our website at, or at 800-727-4743.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.