Area It Girl

Jen Munford

Sometimes, there are few people a woman can trust, but one person in whom you should always have full faith? Your tattoo artist. Enter Jen Munford of Ann Arbor’s Name Brand Tattoo. She has done three of my seven tattoos (all of the ones I’ve gotten since moving to Michigan from Boston) and she has actually fixed two of the ones I got before meeting her. She has a great bedside manner, and always makes her clients feel completely comfortable. She’s enthusiastic about her work, and her creativity is insane. I’ll throw an idea at her, and in no time she has an amazing drawing that probably isn’t exactly what I was picturing because it is better. I for one am so glad this former Californian has decided to make her home right here in Ann Arbor. No one draws a mermaid like she does.

Read on to see my interview with Jen and for some photos taken by Heather of my latest tattoo. I decided to get some pre-wedding ink since my man proposed to me Halloween weekend of 2012 in a full-body Japanese dinosaur costume. Rawr.

How long have you been working as a tattoo artist?

I’ve been tattooing since 2005. Almost 9 years now. I started in San Diego.

 Why Name Brand?

Why anywhere else?! I love Ann Arbor and the people here. I’ve made deep, lasting friendships here and Name Brand is a shop known around the world thanks to the diligent efforts of Jeff and Kerri Zuck! There’s a unique feeling of family and community here that I feel blessed to be a part of.

 What is the best thing about your job?

My favorite thing about what I do is that I get to have personal experiences with people who I wouldn’t otherwise have much interaction with out in life. I like seeing people for the vulnerable humans they are and not just anonymous bodies.

 The worst?

The worst thing for me to experience at work is communication failure. If I don’t understand someone who’s trying to get tattooed or they don’t hear what I have to say, it’s frustrating. But worse than that is if we somehow manage to execute the tattoo after miscommunication! It’s extremely rare but it can happen and it’s terrible!

What’s your favorite tattoo you’ve ever done?

There are several pieces walking around out there that have a special significance to me, that I feel really reflect who I am as an artist as well as how those people and I connected on the days they were tattooed. I can’t really think of a specific tattoo that is my favorite, but I can tell you that when a client and I are able to establish some openness, the truth comes through no matter what the subject of the design is. That’s really how I measure the quality of the tattoos I do.

 What’s your favorite tattoo on your own body?

I have two favorites. On my left hand, I have a variation of Shiva’s trishula done by Steve Byrne at Rock of Ages Tattoo in Austin, TX. On my back, I have a three-headed cobra coming out from behind a skull in the grass done by Robert Ryan of Electric Tattoo in Bradley Beach, NJ. These are my favorites (again) because of the time I shared with these two people and because of what they represent to me. The whole experience of getting my backpeice was highly spiritually charged and very, very painful.

 What inspires you most?

Books and music really excite me. Visual art inspires me too, but ingesting ideas through media that I don’t employ myself is way more stimulating to my imagination.

 What’s your favorite song to listen to while tattooing?

I want to hear Dragonaut by Sleep. Any time of day. Always.

What are your favorite things to do around Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti/Detroit?

Biking between A2 and Ypsi on the border to border trail is high on that list! Swimming at Argo Pond is magical in the evening. The patio at ABC is always good place to relax and eat after kickball games!!

 What’s the one food you couldn’t live without?

I can give up anything, but I really don’t want to give up eggs. I eat a meatless diet so eggs are a crucial source of energy for me. I eat them every day.

 And finally, because people really need to know, what is the best way to care for a new tattoo?

I’ve had the best results with minimal care. Here’s what I do when I get a new tattoo:

Bandage time is important. If it will hold, I’ll leave a bandage on all the way until I wake up the next morning, no matter what time of day I got the tattoo.

Wash with liquid soap. Usually in the shower. I use Bronner’s peppermint because I don’t keep antibacterial in the house, but liquid Dial and Softsoap are also good choices. Just lather up your hands and give it a gentle scrub with your fingertips. Rinse. Repeat if the tattoo is very slimey or if it gets sticky again after drying. Blot dry with a new paper towel or let it air dry.

After the first wash(es) I leave the thing alone. I wont use any moisturizer until the skin feels kind of dry and tight, which is usually about the third or fourth day. A daily wash in the shower is enough. Then I’ll use a tiny amount of Lubriderm (any fragrance free lotion works) once or twice a day until I’m all peeled and healed. I’ve found Aveeno and Lubriderm are best for my skin. Curel is a little greasy. But use what you like. Avoid tubs of salve or lotions. Dipping your fingers into a tub and touching a tattoo, then back into the tub can spread bacteria and possibly lead to infections.

Otherwise, forget you have it! Let the tattoo peel and flake off naturally. Picking scabs too early can cause loss of pigment or scars.









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All Photos by Heather Nash


fort pond striped tunic

Happy 4th!  What better way to celebrate Independence Day than dressing up in some spectacular pieces from the lovely made-in-USA line, esby?  Everything is designed in Austin by the super-talented Stephanie Beard, and it is produced in New Orleans.  The fabrics are fantastic, the silhouettes are flattering, and everything is so basic yet special at the same time.  I am completely in love.  Check out their season 1 lookbook here, featuring my girl, the absolutely stunning Lauren Kirby!  Read on for a quick interview with Stephanie, and head over to esby’s website to start shopping!

How did you get started?  

As a menswear designer for several large corporations, I really loved living in NYC and was just shy of my 10th year there.  But, I didn’t think it was the right place for me to try and start a business.  In 2012, I grabbed all my savings and moved to Austin with hopes the growing inexpensive city full of small businesses would accept mine.

What brought you to Austin?

Warm weather, a laid-back atmosphere and friendly people

Where are your pieces made?  

All of our pieces are made in New Orleans.  Then, we send them to NJ and NC so they can be dyed with garment dyes and indigo or given a softening wash.  We want the piece you purchase to be the same piece you love even after you wash it.  These washes take the shrink out and give the styles a more lived in look and feel.

What is your favorite item from your current collection?

Right now I’m really loving the solid black chambray kimono top.  It’s sort of structured and not at all – all at the same time.  It’s an easy piece to dress up in if you still want to feel super comfortable, and it has a simple Japanese feel to it.

Thanks, Stephanie!

Photographed by Erin Marie Miller { }

large indigo dyed scarf

Photographed by Erin Marie Miller { }

fort pond striped tunic

esby apparel

Photographed by Erin Marie Miller { }

east end scoop back tee

Photographed by Erin Marie Miller { }
Photographed by Erin Marie Miller { }

navy beach indigo maxi dress

navy beach indigo maxi dress

Photographed by Erin Marie Miller { }

Photographed by Erin Marie Miller { }

solid kimono top

solid black kimono top

All Photos by Erin Marie Miller

Currently Lusting After…

Daisy Street Dress

Daisy Street Jersey Cami Swing Dress from asos

 Need Supply

Arc Necklace by Academy


Surf dress by ace&Jig

Steven Alan

Baggy Jean from Steven Alan


Palm Embroidered Bikini by Topshop

J. Crew

Marina Canvas Mini-Wedge Espadrilles by J. Crew


The Twill Zip Tote by Everlane

One of my best friends actually owns this already and brings it to my house often.  If it ever goes mysteriously missing, I guess now she knows where it will have gone.

Area It Girl


Coincidentally, while Heather Nash and I were shooting with Lauren at Dear Golden, we ran into Heather Anne Leavitt while she was trying on the most adorable dress at the shop (pictured on Heather above).  A light bulb went on in my brain box, and I half screamed, “You have to be my next blog interview!”  Thankfully, Heather seemed not at all terrified by my awkward aggressiveness, and she politely agreed and even seemed a bit excited!  She invited Heather Nash and me to her bakeshop, Sweet Heather Anne, and let us sample some delicious treats while we discussed wedding trends, fun things to do in Ann Arbor, and finding genuine connections via Tinder and Twitter.  Read on to see my interview with Heather!

Be honest.  Is cake your favorite food?

 No… it’s not even my favorite dessert.  When it comes to dessert, I love a buttery, sweet cream biscuit.  It’s even better with whipped cream and fresh berries.  I also can’t get enough of our Mexican Shortbread cookies.  And, well, cookie dough in general is a bit of a problem.

 Do you have an all time favorite cake that you’ve made?

 I do.  We were asked to make a cake for the renaming ceremony of the Stamps School of Art and Design last year.  My art school thesis involved creating cakes as edible monuments to local farmers and food producers.  As a local food producer, it was incredibly meaningful to have the opportunity to create an edible monument to Penny Stamps and the art school.  I felt like I’d really come full circle.

I’m also relatively partial to the sculpted Einstein bust that we made for the cast of Einstein on the Beach.

 What is the weirdest ingredient you’ve ever incorporated into one of your creations?

 When I was in art school I made a chocolate beet cake.  It was actually pretty delicious.

 I know you went to The University of Michigan’s School of Art and Design.  Before you began working in food, what was your concentration/favorite medium?

 I love working in three dimensions.  I was focusing on industrial design, ceramics, and figurative sculpture before the foray into food took over my art making.

 You obviously have great style.  What’s your favorite piece of clothing you’ve purchased recently?

 I’m in love with this beautiful, green, 1930’s necklace with brass flowers from Dear Golden in downtown Ann Arbor.  It was a 30th birthday gift.  To myself.

 If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

 Wow, that’s so difficult.  Part of me wants to move back to Florence (where I studied abroad in college), but I’m afraid that the city may not have the same effect on me now as it did when I was a wide-eyed, malleable 21 year old.  I love cities like San Francisco and Portland.  But truth be told, I kind of love it here, too.

 What advice would you give to those who want to open their own unique businesses?

 When it comes time to hire staff, think about what you love, and what you’re best at, and hire people to do everything but that.  A lesson I learned the hard way.

 What are the three most important things in your medicine cabinet?

 Burn cream, band-aids, and dental floss.  Baking is full of hazards.









All Photos by Heather Nash