Adriana Veras thought learning microblading would be a good career move. “I thought I could make a lot of money,” Veras said.
Veras along with Mercedes Duarte and six others signed up for a 2-day course offered by the Puerto Rico-based Papaya Boutique and Academy. They learned about the course on social media. Papaya has 95,000 followers on Facebook.
The course was being held at a Miami hotel.
Each paid $106 as a deposit and $895 on the day the course started.
They said the first day was filled with lectures but hands-on practice was on day two.
“We had to bring in models and we tattooed them,” Veras said. “We didn’t know what we were doing.”
Papaya’s owner and instructor, Vilmarie Ortiz, is seen on video in a class preparing one of the volunteer models for microblading.
Four students who were in the class say they were told by owner and instructor Vilmarie Ortiz that they could get to work immediately.
“We were told we didn’t need a license to do the procedure,” Duarte said. Ortiz denies she said that.
But the academy’s manual says microblading “does not require a license.” Veras, Duarte and the others learned it does when they called the state’s Health Department after the course.
“They told me the State of Florida considers microblading a form of tattoo and therefore you need a tattoo artist license,” Duarte said.
As for the course Ortiz offered at that hotel, the Health Department sent a statement that read: “To perform these types of classes where a live subject is used, the company must obtain at least a temporary license and the person performing the procedure must be licensed.”
For more than a month, Ortiz said by email that she would show NBC 6 Responds her “permits and licenses.”
She stopped answering emails after Investigator Myriam Masihy sent her an email from the Florida Department of Health that read “…at this time, Papaya Boutique and Academy does not hold a license in Florida.”
The Health Department said they were going to reach out to Ortiz to make sure she was aware of the requirements for the courses. Since then, Ortiz cancelled a microblading course scheduled in Orlando.
Veras, Duarte and the others asked for a refund, but say they don’t expect to get their money back.
Their situation is a good lesson for anyone interested in learning microblading or considering having the procedure done.
Charme International in Southwest Miami-Dade is a State of Florida approved education facility. Students at Charme attend a three-day microblading course that starts with a mandated health requirement.
“The first requirement that they need to take before the class is the blood-borne pathogens and communicable diseases to prevent cross contamination between clients,” said Charme International President Norma Olivera. At Charme, students learn everything from selecting the correct pigmentation to the importance of disposing needles in the proper containers.
“As we protect our clients, we protect ourselves,” Olivera said.
After Charme students complete the course, they take an exam. Then they can get a license. But then they are required to work at a licensed facility.
“They cannot come to any house,” Olivera said. “The license goes hand in hand with the establishment.”