Tattoo artist and humanitarian aren't usually two words that coincide, but one Baton Rouge resident is making sure that will change. Kirk Boutte, who owns Effum Bodyworks Tattoo shop, says that God told him to open the shop in 1998. He says that it was during a low point in his life when he heard the voice as clear as day telling him that he needed to be tattooing. He knew that he had to be obedient to that voice. Kirk put the words into action, and the vision became a reality. Before long, the shop grew and evolved in numbers as well as popularity, soon becoming a local hot spot. In an era of literal "copy and paste," it can be extremely hard to "stick out" or set your business apart when it comes to those such as tattoo and piercing shops. When asked how he can escape falling into a stagnant nature or a rut, Kirk says the shop has a vibe that makes Effum different from all of the rest. He also equates the shop's success with his keen ability to evolve with the changes around him. Kirk went on to say, "There's nothing new under the sun." He says any smart business owner has to know when to be a leader who leads by a positive example and understands how to be able not to get too hung up on the title of "boss." He says that when you do that, it makes for a better business all-around. One visit to the shop, whether virtual or in the physical, and you definitely get the sense that the shop is in a category of its own, beginning with the services it offers.
The shop offers a variety of them, such as piercing, and it even has a booth for teeth whitening and grill placement. Kirk says he's always open to give anyone who offers a creative service a chance. He says that Effum, which is an acronym for "Expressed Freedom for United Minds," is more than a place to get the hottest ink. It's also a place for patrons to connect and get to know each other on a personal level.
This same concept and ideology laid the groundwork for Kirk's program for the Homeless called "It takes a village BR." He says that he felt led to start the program after realizing that he and his family had everything they needed but that many people in the community did not. Kirk also says, "At some point, in one's life, you have to realize that there's something bigger than you." Every Sunday, the program feeds the Homeless community between 9 am-2 pm at 130 St. Paul de Vincent drive. Kirk says he calls the individuals who utilize the program are called "villagers."
The program has been up and running for six years. The program runs whether there is rain, sleet, or natural disaster. He says the program has not missed a Sunday since its start because he and his volunteer crew know that the "villagers" have come to expect them to be there. Kirk says what makes his program different from most is that he and his volunteers care and that the "villagers" can expect more than food and necessities when they show up; they can also expect a caring ear and a sense of family. Kirk says he knows all of the "villagers" by name. I asked Kirk what one who wants to volunteer had to do to qualify, and he said that anyone wishing to give their time just had to show up. Kirk also said that anyone who wanted to donate personal hygiene, food, or money could do so by accessing the website @Ittakesavillagebr.com or messaging him directly. When asked what the future holds for "It takes a village BR," Boutte says, "God has that answer as we are just his hands and feet" He also says that his biggest goal is to transition any needy person to a better way of life."
*At press time, I was alerted to the news of an apparent arson that severely damaged the helping house that houses villagers and village caretakers. The suspect is in custody, and there were thankfully no fatalities. The only items that weren't damaged were their cooking supplies. Despite this unforeseen tragedy, Kirk is determined to forge ahead and continue to cook and care for the villagers. He lists the immediate needs as financial donations to go towards industrial shelving units.
Cashapp info is: $IttakesavillageBR, PayPal info is, email@example.com. Any questions or concerns can be directed to Mr. Boutte himself, by accessing the email info: firstname.lastname@example.org*
For more information about Effum Tattoo shop or to acquire about the Homeless program, Contact: 225-275-8606 or go to www.ittakesavillagebr.org.