We had the good fortune of connecting with Kat Dukes and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kat, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I have benefited much more from taking risks then playing it safe. My business wouldn’t be where it’s at today unless I made the leap into making tattooing my full-time job. That meant leaving my cushy, 40 hours a week consistent pay job (in the midst of a pandemic) for self employment. I’m so grateful that I invested the time and energy it took to start my small business. If you have a passion for something you’ll never know how far you can take it if you give yourself limitations. Risk is worth it for something you love.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My name is Kat Dukes and I have a tattoo business called Steel Honey. I am a Stick and Poke artist based in Oceanside/Carlsbad coastal area. I would say the most unique part about what I do (other than being machine-free), is that my renovated ‘94 Dodge van is my mobile studio. This allows me to travel to various locations, but I mainly choose to park by the beach so clients have an ocean view. Even though there are certain challenges creating my own small business (especially since there’s no business model for what I do), it’s been very fulfilling. I put a lot of hard work into making Steel Honey what it is today. I am incredibly grateful for the support I continue to receive from local businesses, family and friends. I’d say the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to trust myself and go with my gut. Anytime I immerse myself into something 100%, the benefits are resounding. I had a steady job working at a boutique in Carlsbad last year, and decided to quit during the pandemic to pursue tattooing as my full time gig. I didn’t let personal setbacks stop me from pursuing my vision, and that too is continually evolving. Steel Honey is more than tattoos by the beach; it’s about providing a memorable experience for anyone inspired to get permanent art in a unique space.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There are lots of really amazing shops, restaurants and local dives that I enjoy in the north county area. My favorite shop would be Ransack which is a vintage western style clothing Store on Coast Highway in South Oceanside. Their selection of cowboy boots, fringe jackets, and vintage tees are unbeatable. The way the shop is curated is truly unique vintage fines. As far as the food I would say LTH, Dija Mara never disappoint. Also located on Coast Highway these are great spots for amazing food selection. The Cup is probably my favorite spot for coffee. It’s a great location (only a couple blocks from the beach) with of course, really killer coffee. Also can’t go wrong with downtown San Diego with their free museums in Balboa Park, all the haunted historic buildings Old Town has and Little Italy’s authentic food.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It’s hard to choose one. I have so many people to thank for the support for where my business is at today. I have to thank Scout (the owner of Ransack in Oceanside) for always promoting and backing Steel Honey. The community in this town is very special and people like Scout are always there to be everyone’s small business cheerleader!

Instagram: @steel_honey

Image Credits
Molly Hoffman Brian Jackson

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