Ink Minx Is Creating A Safe Space In Tattooing

Photo by Sofie Stenmark

Shanzey Afzal talks about creating her dream

"I was always a rebellious child, so it's not too surprising the way I turned out," Shanzey Afzal tells me. It's been a year since we first met; she'd sneaked into a cocktail hour for a very millennial pink, very overpriced feminist networking event I'd volunteered to do social media for. Afzal walked around with a handmade sign offering free tattoo consultations, and we got to chatting over a botched ink job I'd received, and soon enough she was sharing what she hoped to turn her creative baby, Ink Minx, into—namely, a true safe space for all people to get tattoos. One year later and it's shaping to be everything Afzal had hoped for and more. "It's my childhood dream come true," she tells me.

As a first-generation American, of Pakistani and Indian origins, Afzal spent most of her early life abroad, getting her first taste of the tattoo world through practicing henna with her family. "In my culture, it's called mehndi. On my dad's side of my family, I was the youngest, so I would constantly have it done by other women, and do it for my mom's side of the family where I was the oldest."

Henna is an artform embedded with a strong, feminine energy that bonded her relatives together in tradition, but that also offered Afzal a point to pivot and create a new path for herself. "I'm one of the first women in my family to work," she pointed out, noting that her family was filled with "really strong, independent women," but also women who chose to raise families rather than pursue careers.

Afzal knew she was different though and set out to build a career for herself, first focusing on the music industry, before turning her passion for getting tattoos into work as a tattoo creator, and, eventually, leading to repurposing a '63 Shasta trailer into an incredibly Instagrammable, anchorless tattoo shop.

This trailer has become a safe space for clients who often find themselves alienated by traditional tattoo parlor culture. In part, this is because femininity and trust remain crucial to Afzal and her work with Ink Minx. But she also credits her religious upbringing, which, especially when paired with her deeply feminist beliefs, make her a unique figure in the tattoo industry. "It turns out, a lot of my clients don't come to me just for the feminist aspect, they come to me because they relate to my culture," Afzal said. "But that wasn't the original intention."

Jewish and Muslim women, women who are uncomfortable with the intimacy of getting a tattoo, anyone who yearns for an extra level of safety and privacy can find a rare comfort in Ink Minx.

"Part of having that small space," Afzal said, referring to her trailer, "is it really is just meant for two people. It's meant to not be an area where you have to be concerned about how you look or being cool in a tattoo shop." This positive draw came as a coincidence, along with her desire to pursue her dreams head-on. "I'm 26, and I wanted to really set an example for other young women," she said, noting that, in the future, she'd love to expand to a much larger trailer and accumulate a collective of artists working within the same core values.

"I just don't just want to sell myself. I really want to provide something," Afzal said. Her priority is not fame, but helping clients use tattoos as a method of healing. "I'm not the best tattoo artist," she said. "But I'm providing something that women really want, and I'm doing great tattoos for them." Her policy—originally women only, now women first—reflects her feminist intentions. Her male followers seem to understand that and champion it; a man donated a large tattoo to a female client of Afzal's choosing during a recent Kickstarter campaign.

The Kickstarter—which more than surpassed its goal—allowed Afzal to take her trailer on the road for the first time, as she embarks on a journey across the East Coast, tattooing at art fairs, towing her '63 Shasta along with her Jeep, complete with Ink Minx vanity plate. It's just the beginning for Afzal, but it's the start of a really exciting opportunity for all women to find entry into the world of tattooing.

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Along with

Showtime just ordered a pilot episode of Casallina "Cathy" Kisakye's comedy anthology series, which will be executive-produced by Lena Waithe. The show, called How to Make Love to a Black Woman (Who May Be Working Through Some Shit), sounds like it'll be... informative.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, though the series is a comedy, it will also touch on some vulnerable subjects as well. It described the show as being about "connection and rejection that explore our most harrowing—and harrowingly comic—sexual secrets." Waithe said in a statement about the news, "Cathy's script is haunting, funny, and extremely vulnerable—it's the kind of script that doesn't come around very often." She continues, showing her excitement for the project: "I'm honored that Cathy trusts me with such a special project. I can't wait for the world to see it."

Kisakye, who previously worked with Waithe on The Chi, says that the show is close to her heart, and that the series will portray three-dimensional, complex women. "With How to Make Love, I'm thrilled to tell stories about the women I know, who are complicated, passionate, resilient, and relatable," she said in a statement.

Kisakye is the creator of the show, and will be writing the pilot script. It's the latest project to come to Showtime through Waithe's first-look deal and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, should it go to series, this would be the first anthology for the network.



Screenshot via Youtube

While the song should serve as a reminder to your exes

Just a day after dropping new single "Nunya," featuring Dom Kennedy, Kehlani has released the winter-wonderland visuals to go along with. The singer, NYLON November cover star, and mother-to-be rocks some of the best winter 'fits I've seen in a while, including a glorious puffer jacket that could double as a down comforter that I absolutely need in my life right now.

Kehlani is clearly living her best life up in some snow-filled forest hideaway, vibing on the beach at sunset and sipping on something bubbly as she coolly reminds nosy exes that who she's with is "nunya business." There's not much of a story line (unlike her recent "Nights Like This" video); the main takeaway is that Kehlani is busy dancing through a forest, missing no one and chilling amongst people who are clearly not the subjects of the song.

Kehlani is only two short months away from bringing baby Adeya into the world, who she thanked for helping her get through the video process. "Shot that 7 months pregnant in da snow..." Kehlani wrote on Twitter, adding, "thank u baby for da motivation, mommy was FROZE."

Even from the womb, Adeya has been hustling hard alongside her momma. Twitter user @ODtheMC pointed out that this is already her second music video appearance, and she's not even been born.

Get some mulled wine ready and escape into Kehlani's winter getaway, below. Stay tuned for her forthcoming mixtape, While We Wait, out on February 22.

Kehlani - Nunya (feat. Dom Kennedy) [Official Music Video]