Heavenlee Spa

Heavenlee Spa, located on East California Street in Gainesville.

A Gainesville beauty parlor has gotten crossways with city officials over a new service.

Heavenlee Spa, located on California Street next to Heritage Park, does piercings and tattoos.

“We do a lot. I personally do permanent makeup, lashes, spray tans and stretching for clients in rehabilitation,” explained the owner Tamara Franklin. “Frankie [Proctor] does piercings and tattoos, and she specializes in cover-ups, black and white … just a little bit of everything.”

The business, which opened in the summer of 2021, faces questions over local zoning.

“We opened up and started doing lashes, and we had fully licensed for permanent makeup,” explained Franklin. “We had TDLR (Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation) come in and do the inspection for cosmetology, and then we had the health department come in and do our inspection, and we passed with flying colors. He told us we were fully licensed and ready to do tattoos, permanent makeup and all of that.”

While no officials said anything during the inspections and licensing process, zoning concerns popped up soon after.

"Word started getting around town and the other tattoo shops started calling and we've gotten some emails talking about zoning ordinances and us not being allowed to operate here," said Franklin. "We tried reaching out, and every place we went to in-person has been a dead end. We need to talk to somebody who will give us a chance, because we don't want to uproot and move just so we can be able to do tattoos. It's been a process for several months just trying to get to where we are." The main concerns seem to have to do with proximity to Heritage Park and the city's dog park. "The business wants to be able to have a tattoo business at the current location. She has a permanent makeup business at the location at this time," said Gainesville City Manager Barry Sullivan. "City code does not allow tattoo businesses within 500 feet of a church, school, residential district, or public park." Franklin spoke to the Gainesville City Council July 19 about the challenges she is facing.

"It's affecting business," said Franklin. "We have clients coming in because we had started doing tattoos, but we didn't want to get shut down or get in trouble for doing them. We're fully licensed to do so; we're just zoned in the wrong area." This is also putting financial strain on Franklin and her business partner Frankie Proctor - who does the work in question. "I'm just trying to make ends meet as well as she is, and we want to bring something to Gainesville that's nice and family friendly," explained Franklin. "We're not a full-on tattoo shop; we're not your typical place. It's a one-stop shop where you can come in, get your lashes done, and if your daughter wants to get her ears pierced or if someone wants a cute tiny tattoo or a beauty mark." Proctor believes in doing piercings safely with a proper needle, as opposed to piercing guns commonly used elsewhere.

"I do a lot of infants and other young children just so that they don't have to go to places like that," said Proctor. "It's a much better experience; most of them don't even cry or make a sound, and I would rather see those babies and young kids come to a clean, nice place with somebody who has been trained." Franklin and Proctor want to create a place with a friendly atmosphere, as opposed to the traditional idea of tattoo and piercing parlors.

"It's not old-school pin-up models and naked pictures and such," said Franklin. "We want to keep it family optional to where if a dad is bringing in his 16-year-old daughter to get a piercing, he's not looking around and thinking about if guys are staring at his little girl. It's a very respectful, safe place for anybody to come." The facilities are also divided into various rooms, allowing for procedures to be done in private rooms away from prying eyes.

"I specialize a lot in scar covering and helping people with stretch marks," Proctor explained. "For a long time, I've wanted to offer 3-D nipple and breast things for women who had to have theirs removed for cancer. That's probably going to be a service I'm not even going to charge for. I want to offer that, but it still falls under tattooing." "It's changing somebody's life that no longer feels confident about their body because they had to go through something traumatic," added Franklin. "There's also tattooing on the head for people who have lost their hair and filling in the follicles." The duo want to help people be more confident.

"That's the whole point of this place," said Franklin. "Somewhere where people can come in, feel comfortable and feel great when they leave."

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