Nestled among the cobblestones of Wall Street downtown Asheville, enterprising businesses have set up shop. While many locals may be familiar with the eateries available, the yoga studio, and perhaps even Love Hate Social Club, a tattoo studio owned by Miami Ink famous Ami James, few may know of the small businesses quietly tucked into the building simply known as 12 Wall Street. Those who operate out of 12 Wall Street are practitioners of sorts, ranging in scope from holistic healers to therapists, massage and otherwise. It is in this unassuming building that Thistle and Pearl Tattoo studio resides.
Next door to friendly tech company MobRocket, tattoo artists Violit Hartwell and BB June with apprentice Emma B take a different approach to a traditional tattoo scene. Founder BB June is an Asheville native who has worked in a variety of tattoo establishments during her time as an artist. She opened Thistle and Pearl in February of 2015 with the intention of creating a different type of atmosphere for customers. People unfamiliar with the vibe of a tattoo studio are generally intimidated by the preconceived notions surrounding body art studios. Thistle and Pearl offers a laid back, serene environment that welcomes even the most nervous of the uninitiated in for their first piercing or tattoo.
“I really wanted to focus on providing a different sort of energy than other tattoo shops,” June states. “I wanted to get away from the tattoo ego, and unfriendliness I’ve experienced, and start something different.” Asheville’s concentration of tattoo shops didn’t sway her decision to open her own in the heart of downtown. “I was not hesitant to open a shop here in Asheville, because I couldn’t find a place that had the right vibe or energy that I was looking for.” As evidenced by Thistle and Pearl’s success in such a small period of time, June appears to be right on target with her approach.
Unlike other tattoo establishments in the area, Thistle and Pearl focuses not only on the energy of the store itself, but the products that they use. All inks are vegan, and aftercare products are petroleum free. Tattoo artist and reiki master teacher Violit Hartwell makes Zen aftercare products that are offered through Thistle and Pearl, which are organic offerings that help aid the tattoo’s healing process.
Walking into Thistle and Pearl instantly puts even the most nervous of individuals at ease, as they step into the comforting, living room-esque environment that has been assembled. Warm lighting, bright rugs, comfortable couches, and art on the walls lend to the soothing energy of the store. Customers that are interested in getting body art at the shop are required to have a consultation before their initial session, to ensure that artist and client share the same vision. Hartwell and June encourage an open, honest dialogue with their clients.
Unlike most other tattoo establishments in town, Thistle and Pearl holds shorter hours, open from 10-6. This allows the artists to avoid the type of clientele that they aren’t eager to cater to, primarily on-a-whim or inebriated tattoo requests. “As tattoos are now considered socially acceptable and mainstream, more and more individuals who would have previously not considered body art are now coming into our shop,” June tells us. “Tattoos and the meaning behind each one that a customer selects is such an individualized thing, we want to pay homage to that and give our clients the art that they will be happy with for a lifetime.”
Thistle and Pearl is currently located at 12 1/2 Wall Street, Suite H. The shop is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am until 6 pm. Check out their website: http://thistleandpearltattoo.com, or call at 828-424-7880
Update: Due to Thistle and Pearl’s growing popularity, the studio will be moving to a larger location on Merrimon Avenue November 1st. Studio hours will also be extended.