Located in the heart of Fishtown since 2013 is True Hand — a creative studio featuring custom tattooing by-appointment & graphic design in a private, uniquely curated setting.

Their team of artists, some with 20 years of experience, specializes in timeless design for small businesses, including branding systems, production, and websites, in addition to custom & classic tattoos for the discerning client. “We are focused on creating an awesome customer experience as well as having a culture that makes it an amazing place to want to work,” said True Hand Founder, Mike Ski.

True Hand’s artwork can be found in some of Philadelphia’s top restaurants while their tattoo work has been featured in both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Mutter Museum. True Hand also has an online store featuring branded apparel, fabric patches, buttons, and more. “Our goal is to affect the visual landscape of Philadelphia and beyond,” said Mike.

True Hand’s growth created a need for more space than their previous 500 SF studio could accommodate, so PIDC assisted the company with financing the acquisition of a 150 year-old 6,000 SF two-story church through a Capital Project Loan. The building, located at 2345 E Susquehanna Avenue, was converted into a commercial and residential (live/work) mixed-use property which now also houses True Hand’s 2,500 SF studio. In fact, True Hand’s acquisition of the building ultimately saved it from being torn down. “After a lengthy process, this adaptive reuse of a former house of worship into a mixed-use building not only serves as an amazing expansion of True Hand, but a success story for neighborhood & historic preservation,” said Mike.

Since working with PIDC, True Hand has grown exponentially in many ways, including going from four employees to a total of 12. PIDC also referred Mike to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, which enabled him to further increase his business knowledge. Mike credits the program as a pivotal moment in his business development. “The experience was challenging and eye-opening, but it gave me a lot of confidence in our capabilities and helped me better communicate the project as an opportunity,” he said. “I left the program with a 40+ page business plan specific to the project, and ultimately, PIDC together with M&T Bank — one of the first lenders PIDC introduced me to more than a year prior — helped fund the project.”

In celebration of six years in business, True Hand is currently working on plans for a grand reopening event featuring 35 tattoo artists from around the country. “Not only has PIDC made something that was an actual dream possible for my business, but knowing that companies like PIDC exist gives me a lot of hope in the world,” said Mike. “A company whose goal is to help other small businesses grow, create jobs, and support neighborhoods throughout the city doesn’t even sound real. It’s also an amazing network of resources and relationships that are helpful to support you through changes in your business and can help create a clear path to your goals.”

“Not only has PIDC made something that was an actual dream possible for my business, but knowing that companies like PIDC exist gives me a lot of hope in the world.” – Mike Ski