DENVER – A Denver man is working to help ex-convicts, gang members and juveniles get a fresh start by removing the permanent marks from their former lives they want to leave behind.
Jesus Bujanda and his family first thought up the idea for TattooEmergency911 on Thanksgiving two years ago, when his nephew who had recently been released from prison started talking about the process of having old ink linking him to an ex-girlfriend and a gang removed.
His nephew had been getting on his feet with his step-father’s concrete company in Steamboat Springs and wanted to be taken more seriously.
By Christmas, the idea was gaining steam among the family. Bujanda says they researched and found there were was a major hole to be filled in the market for mobile tattoo removal services.
His wife, Gayedine, and daughter came up with the name for the company and the concept to use a converted ambulance as a mobile tattoo removal clinic by the end of the day, and they got to work.
Bujanda says he and his family put the ambulance together, but said because of the new idea, that the business at first “wasn’t taken very seriously.”
But it worked for his nephew, who now is a successful businessman with the concrete company, and Bujanda knew it would eventually work for others if he and his family made their business venture come true.
The tattoo removal process takes between six months and a year to complete, according to Bujanda, so he approached the state of Colorado about working with young people in juvenile detention centers to remove their tattoos before they were released in order to give them a better chance at excelling once they were released.
“For some, it may be part of their parole. Once they are released, they must follow through with the removal process,” Bujanda said. “In the mean time they are trying to find a job with visible and gang tattoos and struggle to find employment. I am able to help them by making sure they are ink-free for a better chance of finding employment and surviving once they are on their own.”
He said that work turned into him beginning to work with more juvenile facilities and transitional housing units for adults and juveniles from Greeley to Colorado Springs.
Bujanda says he offers the services at low costs in order to accommodate his clients, many of whom are either in jail or prison or were recently released.
“This has been life-changing for many of the people that I have worked with because under normal circumstances, it is still quite an expensive process,” he said. “There are so many people that want to leave the past in the past, but they have a reminder and that is not who they are now.”
He has dozens of success stories. In one case, a Commerce City waste worker with two small gang-related face tattoos had been passed up for promotions even after working for the department for 12 years.
But Bujanda says the man got the job after TattooEmergency911 removed the man’s tattoos.
“He was the first person to tell me I changed his life and we both started to cry,” Bujanda said.
Bujanda, who is Hispanic, says he doesn’t discriminate when it comes to whom he supplies his services to.
“When I first meet them, they are embarrassed to show me [their tattoos] – especially when I’m Hispanic and they want swastikas removed,” he said. “My answer is always the same: ‘I’m not here to judge, I’m here to help.’”
Bujanda also teaches automotive technology and detailing through Jefferson County Public Schools’ CTE Career and Technical Education Center, and has been teaching for 20 years.
“I really enjoy teaching…and take pride in helping my students to discover their talents they didn’t know they had,” he said.
TattooEmergency911 has also recently opened a clinic in Northfield that also offers “a variety of aesthetic and laser services” that include skin treatments, micro-needling and laser hair removal, among others, according to Bujanda.
His wife runs the clinic during the day along with her cousin, Devanny Tapia, who is an aesthetician. Bujanda credits his entire family for the business’s success.
“Throughout this entire journey, my wife, my kids and my family have been extremely supportive and I couldn’t have done this without them,” he said. “This is truly a family affair.”
Bujanda says the next step is working with federal prisons and other federal agencies to remove tattoos from ex-gang members and victims of human trafficking.
He says he recently finished the process needed to work with the federal government and that he has also recently started working with the Small Business Development Center in California to expand beyond Colorado in hopes of eventually taking his mobile services to most of the Southwest.