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GIBSONVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — When Annie Bella and Laura Murphy started their careers, they got their share of strange looks. Now, the tattoo artists find themselves constantly booked.

“The males were like, ‘You’re a girl. You can’t do this,’ and that just made me push even further into wanting to do it,” Bella said.

“It was really hard to not just be the pretty face in the shop and actually be taken seriously as a serious artist,” Murphy said.

Bella, who has been in the industry for 10 years, and Murphy who has been in the industry for 17 years, met while working at a previous tattoo studio.

Their friendship formed slowly.

It wasn’t until they shared a connection over some music Murphy was playing in her booth that the two began to talk more and realize they had common interests and career goals.

They both desired to have their own studio.

“We really, really, realized how much we stay booked and how we didn’t really rely so much on the studio’s name as much as our name,” Bella said.

Bella and Murphy are now the owners of Frozen Pines Tattoo in Gibsonville on West Main Street.

“We could be proud of ourselves for trying because I think we would regret more not trying and never knowing than we would if we tried, and we failed,” Murphy said.

The studio has been in business for more than a year and a half.

Bella and Murphy have built a strong enough reputation that they have been booked months in advance.

However, they plan to reopen their books at the beginning of November.