- Associated Press - Saturday, February 11, 2017

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) - Jesus Bujanda and his wife, Gayedine, got the idea to open up a tattoo removal business thanks to their nephew. He’d been incarcerated and had a big neck tattoo. He’d had his girlfriend’s name covered up with a big dog bone. When he got out, he knew he had to get the tattoo removed if he wanted to get a job.

That nephew is now doing well. He has his own concrete business. He doesn’t think employers would have taken him seriously without losing the dog bone around his neck, reported the Greeley Tribune (https://bit.ly/2kJUZhD).

Bujanda has worked with at-risk youth throughout his career. He teaches auto shop at Jefferson High School in Jefferson County. If getting a dog bone removed helped his nephew get a job, he could only imagine how removing gang tattoos could help young folks just getting out of juvenile detention centers or prison.

If they can’t get a job right out of prison, Bujanda said, they would probably slip back to doing what they know how to do to survive.

Bujanda retrofitted an old ambulance with all the tools he needed for a mobile tattoo removal unit. It took a whole summer to put together, but it was a labor of love - both for building vehicles and building up youth.

He now makes trips into to some facilities as a contractor with the state to start removing ink before folks are released. He calls his business TattooEmergency911 and he’s been operational since August.

He lives in Denver and travels around the state in the ambulance. He still teaches full time, so he fits removals in after hours and on weekends. It’s a lot of work, but he loves it. Growing up in Denver, he saw the havoc gangs could wreak on people’s lives and how difficult it was to survive if you struggled to get a decent job.

Bujanda offered his services for the first time in Greeley to a kid living in transitional housing.

“I know Greeley has a rich history with gangs,” Bujanda said. He hopes to come to Greeley on at least a monthly basis to do removals. If the demand is great enough, he’ll make the trip more often.

He posted on a couple Greeley Facebook pages about the service and got an overwhelming response. Bujanda is willing to cut a good deal for kids who are looking for a better life. He charges on a case-by-case basis.

That’s where his idea comes in. Bujanda can come to folks before they get out of prison and begin removing ink.

Inside, the old ambulance looks like a clean, simple clinic. The laser sits in a corner near the back. A comfy barber-type chair, where the client sits, is next to it. Across from the two is a cushy red bench. The bench is big enough for two - usually a case manager and another person using the service. A stash of protective goggles sits on a shelf. Alcohol, gloves and other tools are kept in their rightful place.

Bujanda has to keep close track of all his equipment. He keeps pens and staplers tucked away so kids can’t swipe them to make new tattoos.

The process is painful and long. The kids have to want it.

“It feels like hot bacon grease and electricity,” Bujanda said.

Bujanda does one treatment per month, and you can’t rush it, or else you risk scarring and blistering. Each round of treatment only takes a couple minutes.

Gayedine, his wife, takes on the more aesthetic side of business in a brick and mortar shop in Denver. Now, she does permanent makeup and skin care. As business grows, she plans to expand into laser hair removal and scar correction.

Bujanda used to think when he retired from teaching he’d have his own custom shop. Now, he doesn’t think he’d be happy doing that. He wants to keep working with at-risk youth, giving them a leg up. Though it’ll be hard to retire from teaching, he’s excited for the chance to make TattooEmergency911 his full-time focus.

“I’ll still be changing lives, it’ll just be on a different level,” he said.

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Information from: The Tribune of Greeley, Co, https://greeleytribune.com


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