Tattoo Shop

Critical Tattoo

Sarah and Kenneth Brown

One factor in the success of Carson City-based Critical Tattoo is certainly co-founder Sarah Brown’s continuous drive to learn and seek out advice from others. Critical Tattoo designs and manufactures power supplies, foot pedals, and hand-made machines for use in tattoo parlors all over the world.

The idea for Critical Tattoo was born when Sarah’s husband, Kenneth Brown, took an interest in tattoos. An engineer by trade, Kenneth recognized that 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 March of 2005 Sarah and Kenneth decided to fully commit to making Critical Tattoo a reality. As Sarah says, “We gathered all of our money …moved into our space, and got incorporated. We did everything that month and failure wasn’t an option.”

Sarah brought extensive management experience to the business while Kenneth brought the product design expertise. Nevertheless, there were areas in which they needed help. “I knew there were a lot of things we didn’t know and I didn’t feel comfortable guessing. So I immediately made an appointment with [the Nevada SBDC] and SCORE.” Sarah’s advisors helped her make contact with distributors, reach out to the public, and figure out the logistics of exporting. “In the beginning, it was like ‘Oh, I have this problem, I’d better go there.’ Now I keep in touch regularly whether I need it or not.”

One of the ways Sarah has continued to keep in touch is by taking the Nevada SBDC’s NxLeveL course not once, but twice in the last five years. NxLeveL for Entrepreneurs is a 13-week program that teaches entrepreneurs the skills they need to start a business or expand a current business. Not only do these classes offer excellent information, they are a way for entrepreneurs to connect with others that share similar interests.

Sarah’s Nevada SBDC advisor facilitates a networking group for graduates of NxLeveL. In monthly meetings, Sarah and nine others share their knowledge, experience, and insight in order to help each other succeed. Sarah states, “I hope it goes on for years and years. I get so much out of it. It doesn’t matter who I’m talking to, in my eyes, there is always something there to be learned.”

Sarah’s willingness to seek out advice and learn from others has paid off for Critical Tattoo. The business has grown from just Sarah and Kenneth and now employs seven others. In 2012, the business grew 40% from the previous year and is poised for future growth with a whole new line of products debuting in early 2013. With growth come new challenges. Thanks to the network of advisors and supporters Sarah Brown has developed, she will not be facing these challenges alone. If you would like to learn more about Critical Tattoo, please visit their website at

If you would like to learn more about the Nevada SBDC, SCORE, or NxLeveL classes, please visit or call (775) 784-1717.