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Local Artist Spotlight: Lisa Suárez

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman Local Artist Spotlight: Lisa SuárezLisa Suárez, owner of Lacquer Gallery, with husband Jacob Dylan. Dylan co-owns The Gold Room Tattoo with Suárez. Dylan does body tattooing, while Suárez does cosmetic tattooing. Photos by Ashley Miller.
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Lacquer Gallery owner Lisa Suárez’s “support your local girl gang” motto is a call to her anti-mean girl mentality.

Since Suárez was in kindergarten, she’s wanted to open a salon or work in the beauty industry. But, over the years she has felt what it’s like to be uncomfortable in certain types of salons. It made her want to open a space that wasn’t cliquey, and that anyone could feel comfortable in.

“I’ve been in those situations going to salons, where I would go to super nice places and they wouldn’t even check me in or notice I was there,” she says. “And then I’d go into places that were a little edgier, and it’s like, you’re just not cool enough to be there.”

Suárez started off doing nails for several years, and her work grew increasingly popular on Instagram. “It just kind of blew up once I started doing nail art,” she says. “There wasn’t anybody in this area doing that.”

In just six months, her busy schedule led her to hire another nail artist, then two more after that, to help carry all of the new clients she was getting. In 2015, she moved the artists from a tiny room in Grandview to its current building in Harrison West.

Suárez says the space was originally just supposed to house two main artists and two part-time. It wasn’t supposed to be a salon, but new clients kept walking through the door.

“People think it’s really cool to be cliquey and [do] this mean girl thing. And so that’s kind of like my brand,” says Suárez. “It’s not cool to be a mean girl. It’s important to be inclusive and to embrace everybody and to offer all different services.”

“It was just supposed to be a private studio,” she says. “I didn’t have anything on the outside. We didn’t advertise. It was all just booking through Instagram, and I already had a clientele.”

After that, she was hiring at least one person a month, amounting to 40 artists in less than four years. The salon began offering waxing, facials, lash extensions, spray tanning and dermaplaning services, and a veteran hairdresser kindly offered her space so Lacquer Gallery could make room for hair services next door. A second salon in Clintonville opened in October.

Suárez also got her microblading license in the process, and trained artists around the country in 2016 and 2017. Microblading and cosmetic tattooing grew popular at the salon as well, so she moved to a space across from Lacquer Gallery this past June. Her husband joined on as co-owner of The Gold Room Tattoo and began offering body tattooing in August. The Gold Room Tattoo outgrew this space as well, so Suárez and her husband will open a second tattoo shop on the other side of the building in January.

“The growth is unreal,” says Suárez. “Especially four businesses in under four years. It’s unheard of.”

Suárez attributes Laquer Gallery’s success to her “freakishly picky” hiring, and the salon’s mission of inclusiveness, especially with LGBTQ groups.

“We have a ton of trans clients, and that’s really, really important to create a safe place for them to come to where they’re not feeling judged or stared at,” she says. “But I think that we attract that clientele because of our diverse staff too.”

The staff at Lacquer Gallery jokes that there is at least one person of “every type of high school lunch table” represented at the salon. That’s what separates Lacquer Gallery from any other salon, says Suárez.

“It really is for everybody,” she says. “I just want to continue to go with that and always have that be our overview and mission statement — being welcome to everybody and just having it be a fun, laid-back experience.”

For more information on Lisa Suárez and Laquer Gallery, visit lacquergallery.com, or follow Lacquer Gallery and The Gold Room Tattoo on Instagram.

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