When Darcy Kovacs and Michelle Richmond were in their forties, they decided to open a tattoo shop. They wanted to do something they both enjoyed while bringing the tattoo industry into the Bellevue community. They also wanted to get tattooed whenever they wanted.
After a year of creating a business plan and securing funding, they opened a shop on Bellevue Way with one artist and one piercer.
Ten years later, Skin and Soul Tattooing and Piercing is a thriving business, and Darcy and Michelle have the tattoos to prove it.
“We get tattooed whenever there’s time, which isn’t too often because we’re quite busy, which is a good thing,” Richmond said.
They have grown out of the shop’s original location and are now in a more than 3,000 square foot space. And they currently employ seven artists and three piercers.
The two have been friends since they went to Bellevue Junior High. They went to Western Washington University together, and along with another friend, got their first tattoos together.
Community was one of the reasons Kovacs and Richmond opened a shop. At the time they opened, there was only one other shop in Bellevue. But, as Kovacs said, they knew there was room for their idea. And they were right.
They wanted to create a space that made the job of the artists easier, Kovacs said. As neither are tattoo artists, they wanted to fill a needed gap in the industry of taking care of the business side for the artists. At the shop, Richmond said it’s like a family.
They opened their shop in 2010, as Kovacs described, “the wartime,” because of the economic recession. Now, amidst a pandemic and another recession, Skin and Soul continues to thrive and provide a service that people in the community are grateful for.
After being closed for three months because of COVID-19, the shop is open again. Richmond said the reopening has been smooth, and busy.
“Literally the minute we announced that we could be open again after (these) three months of being closed, we have been having to basically put people on waiting lists and every day we’re booked and people are just chomping at the bit to get their tattoos and piercings,” Richmond said.
All their customers have been excited to come in and grateful for the protocols they have put in place, which Kovacs said she is so grateful for.
Kovacs said how important tattoos and piercings are to people, and that for those that get them regularly, they are a priority. Even more so now, Kovacs and Richmond expressed how important and meaningful tattoos and piercings are to their customers.
“Every single day is like I say, it’s almost like Christmas because every day you’re making somebody happy and you know, there’s tears and there’s celebration and sadness that we get to share in,” Richmond said.
And both Kovacs and Richmond agreed that that has been the highlight of having the shop.