How Supersweet created LA’s first tattoo-meets-coffee-shop experience
Located in Los Angeles’ trendy Echo Park neighborhood lies Supersweet Tattoos and Coffee, a dual-concept shop that is radically altering the tattoo industry in more ways than one. When husband and wife Travis DeWind and Erin Raeman conceptualized the shop, they knew they wanted to create an ego-free atmosphere and elevate the typical tattoo experience. Upon walking into Supersweet, you are greeted with an artisanal coffee stand that boasts an eclectic selection of caffeinated delicacies and pastries as well as a full-service tattoo shop with some of the best artists in Los Angeles.
For DeWind, who comes from a musical background playing in the underground scene with his band Nate In Public, the transition to business owner has been seamless with amazing results. Raeman has been tattooing for a decade and is proving to be one of the most in-demand artists on the east side of Los Angeles. Armed with a new general manager Carmen Martinich and a blossoming social media presence, Supersweet is set to expand their brand to new heights and potentially new locations. The future is indeed looking pretty sweet…
What is the origin story of how Supersweet came to be?
ERIN RAEMAN: This is something that I have been wanting to do for years. I’ve been in the coffee industry for a long time and have been a barista for as long as I have been tattooing, which has been almost 10 years. I handle all things coffee and tattooing, and my husband Travis handles the business sides of things. I worked in a lot of tattoo shops over the years, but never felt comfortable for a number of reasons. As a woman, coming up as a tattoo artist, it can be a hostile environment, with a lot of weird things to deal with. With my shop in particular, we envisioned it to be a different kind of experience.
TRAVIS DEWIND: We wanted to make this a less intimidating shop for people to not feel judged. If someone wants the silliest tattoo ever, we’re happy to do it.
RAEMAN: When you’re getting a tattoo, it should feel like a treat for yourself, and so everything we put together is to cater to that type of thing. It’s bright, it’s happy and it lures people in. People talk about our shop as a destination because it’s fun. We also wanted to change the tattoo industry a little bit. It’s so rooted in tradition, and we want to revolutionize it a bit. It doesn’t have to be so underground.
DEWIND: It was scary when we first opened the place because COVID had just hit, and so we spent months building everything.
RAEMAN: For the first five months that we were open, I was our only barista and artist from morning until night. It was pretty scrappy in the beginning. [Laughs.] I was doing upwards of 10 tattoos a day sometimes. Thankfully, we have been able to hire several artists now.
Not only does Supersweet have a roster of world-class artists, but you also have been an incredible launching pad for young tattoo artists with your apprentice program. How important is it to help jumpstart these careers?
RAEMAN: The process of learning to tattoo has been gatekept for so long. It’s so hard to get an apprenticeship, and when you do, you don’t even get to touch a machine for a year. You’re scrubbing the floor with a toothbrush and just a bunch of strange stuff in order to get you to work for free. That’s such an old way of doing things, and we want to do things differently. We have six apprentices in the shop, and they are all working, making money and doing an amazing job.
DEWIND: We want to develop a school for tattooing. You can come in here and be trained very well with no bullshit, and teach you how to be clean, sanitary — and you’ll never have to scrub the floor with a toothbrush. [Laughs.]
What kind of music do you like to play on any given day at the shop?
DEWIND: If Erin and I were to choose, you are definitely going to hear pop punk. We play Taking Back Sunday, blink-182, My Chemical Romance, the Used and some less mainstream stuff like Every Time I Die and Chiodos. The other day I was sitting on the couch with Erin, who is pregnant, and I held up my phone to her stomach and played her Taking Back Sunday, and the baby was kicking so hard. But honestly, we play any band that has ever been AP! [Laughs.]
Have there been any notable celebrity clients that have come into the shop over the years?
DEWIND: Remi Wolf has been in the shop before.
RAEMAN: I got to tattoo Tom DeLonge’s daughter for her first tattoo. That was wild for me because her dad was my No. 1 crush for so long.
The shop itself has such a distinct and well-curated aesthetic. What went into designing the space?
RAEMAN: I have to take responsibility for almost all of the design. I remember when I went with green and pink for the colors, and Travis thought it looked like a circus. [Laughs.] Along the way, I told Travis to just trust me and the process. We built everything from the ground up. I hand-painted the floors and the murals, sewed all the curtains and worked 12 hours a day. Designing things is my favorite.
DEWIND: I’m surprised more people do not ask Erin to do design work — she’s an amazing designer. We put blood, sweat and tears into this. We did this all on our own with no outside help.
What does the future hold for Supersweet?
CARMEN MARTINICH: I have to say, with our TikTok comments, everyone is always asking if the shop will be on the East Coast, the South, Nashville, and I want to say that it’s coming.
DEWIND: We’re definitely looking to expand this. We want to put the shops in areas where tattooing isn’t that popular and, in turn, make it popular. We want to create our own culture with this to make a comfortable space for everyone.
[Photo by Christina Badalian]
[Photo by Christina Badalian] [Photo by Christina Badalian] [Photo by Christina Badalian] [Photo by Christina Badalian] [Photo by Christina Badalian] [Photo by Christina Badalian]
This story appeared in issue #406, available below.