It wasn’t too long ago that tattoo parlours felt like part of the underground movement – tucked away out of sight in upstairs rooms and basements. Things have changed a bit since then.
Today, studios are everywhere – thousands of them standing proudly on UK high streets in big cities and tiny villages alike. The tattoo industry has modernised and mobilised in the 21st century – stepping up to cater for a surging demand that’s only intensified after becoming pent-up during COVID lockdowns.
It feels like more people than ever are looking to learn about getting tattoos. And there’s plenty of information out there. At least, until the ink has dried.
According to Danny Birch – owner of the wildly popular Heart For Art tattoo studio in Stalybridge – info on tattoos largely stops after the needle hits the skin. Customers have all the feedback they need to make an informed decision on what designs to get – but only a cursory knowledge of how to take care of them.
Danny’s other business – Tatfresh – is aiming to change that.
“I noticed there was a gap in the market for tattoo aftercare,” Danny tells The Manc.
“A lot of what’s already out there is just repurposed nappy rash cream. But what we have at Tatfresh is a blend of just seven different organic ingredients – all natural – cutting out all the crap you just don’t need.”
Having been a tattooist for 12 years – launching one of the best-loved local studios in the process – Danny understands the importance of tattoo aftercare, and realised there simply wasn’t a good enough product out there to help people truly look after their skin.
Using contacts at Salford University, Danny and his business partner Ste Bacon came up with a concept and put it into a real testing environment – developing the solution over a period of three years to the highest standards.
As industry pros, Danny and Ste knew which ingredients were required to improve the appearance, health and longevity of tattoos – as well as how to add depth and boldness to designs. They crafted all these ingredients together – and the result was a plant-based, vegan and all natural skincare balm that actually worked.
It was something the industry had never seen before – helping improve healing rates of inked skin and reduce the number of infections – all whilst extending the lifespan of tattoo appearance.
Unsurprisingly, the product took off like a rocket – with major retailers even expressing an interest until lockdowns threw up a stumbling block.
Tatfresh is quickly becoming the go-to brand for tattoo care – allowing people to both recover from and prep for any appointments.
But what Danny is truly most interested in is what Tatfresh can teach people.
“We’re here to celebrate the culture,” he explains.
“The balm isn’t just a skincare product. We see it as a vehicle for education in the industry. We want to start the conversation and get people talking about how to look after their tattoos in the right ways.
“Everyone should have access to a balm that works for them. And know how to use it.”
At its heart, Tatfresh is a wellbeing platform – and this yearning to help others was plain as day during the height of the pandemic.
When COVID hit, Tatfresh gave away boxes upon boxes of balm to the NHS – posting them around the UK so frontline workers could keep their skin healthy and soothe cracked hands.
“We didn’t want to sit still [during lockdown],” Danny stated.
“We’re not those kinds of people.”
The business owners are so restless, in fact, that they’ve worked on morphing the balm into four separate products.
Alongside the Tatfresh skin care balm, the solution has been repurposed for different markets. Offshoots include Grandma’s Magic Balm for skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis, Sampson’s Rescue Balm as skincare for dogs, and an Exo Balm for the sport market – helping athletes recover faster from injuries.
But Danny emphasises whichever format the solution comes in – it does the trick.
The public feedback so far has been glowing, and Danny thinks he knows why.
“Our balm is the only one that works,” he states.
“And it heals unlike anything else out there.”
Tatfresh are now reaching out to tattoo studios, barber shops and retail with wholesale opportunities. Get in touch at [email protected]
Rio Ferdinand is helping change young lives with community programmes in Oldham and Salford
Ex-Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand and his foundation’s wonderful work is helping better the lives of young people in Oldham, Salford and across Manchester as a whole.
Over the past year, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and The Guinness Partnership have been putting together a vital social initiative aimed at providing opportunities and resources to young people across Greater Manchester, helping them develop their skills and aspirations for future working life.
Now, after a hugely successful 12-month campaign, their skills and progression community programme, participants are well and truly starting to feel the impact, with 90% of those taking part now stating that they are enjoying a clear idea and focus on what they want to do for a career.
It may have be thriving in Salford and Oldham at the moment, but given the benefit the scheme has already had — not to mention the ambition the Rio Ferdinand Foundation has shown around various areas of the UK since being set up in 2012 — we can only see this spreading further across the region.
The skills-based initiative engages young people aged under 25 years old and living in Guinness homes in a six-month skills-based programme which has been up and running in the two Manc boroughs, as well as the London boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth, since March 2022.
Young people from both Oldham and Salford take part in a weekly schedule of activities designed to tackle youth unemployment, including digital media training (photography, product design, filmmaking, podcasting), building and construction, CV workshops, mock interviews and more.
Not only do these shadowing opportunities garner confidence and raise aspirations among other young people in the local community, but they also help directly develop their employability skills via mentoring.
For instance, Matthew, 19 from Royton in Oldham, completed the programme and then was supported to apply to the Guinness Aspire Awards to request funding to purchase camera and lighting equipment to help him start a small local photography business. Quality stuff.
Matt says that the scheme “has been an amazing opportunity and has given [him] a chance to get back on the right path… I know what I want to do now and can’t wait to start… I would recommend that other people in my position get involved with it in the future.”
As well as markedly increasing participants health and well-being, all 100% of those involved across Salford and Oldham reported feeling more confident, with many now enjoying opportunities with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation’s partners such as Warner Music, Kiss FM, The Jockey Club and the Gym Group.
Speaking on the programme’s success, Rio himself said in a statement: “The Foundation is committed to working with young people at the heart of their communities to offer support, training, and opportunities to those that need it… engaging with the Guinness Partnership has provided a great boost to our reach and our work”.
Well in, Rio. Thankfully, he isn’t the only ex-Manchester-based footballer still trying to make a difference in the local community either:
Featured Image — Supplied/Rio Ferdinand (via Instagram)
Art & Culture
Eurovision 2023 grand final to be screened live in cinemas across the UK
The grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest is to be screened live in cinemas across the UK for the first time ever.
With fans from across the globe set to descend on Liverpool in a couple of months time as the UK hosts the 2023 edition of the world’s biggest song competition on behalf of last year’s winners Ukraine, those who weren’t lucky enough to secure tickets will instead by able to head to their nearest cinema to experience the action on the big screen.
Distributor CinemaLive has announced it will be broadcasting the Eurovision grand final show live in cinemas nationwide for the first time ever.
It means that Eurovision fans up and down the country who missed out on grabbing tickets to the final – which sold out in under 40 minutes after going on sale earlier this month – will be able to come together to celebrate what is set to be the “biggest, brightest, boldest music party of the year”.
500 cinemas across the UK, including several here in Greater Manchester, will be screening the grand final on Saturday 13 May.
Vue, Odeon, Cineworld, and Everyman are just some of the cinema chains taking part.
Vue Manchester Printworks, Odeon Great Northern, and Everyman Manchester are the Manchester city centre venues lined-up to screen the event – with cinemas in the The Lowry Outlet Mall, Trafford Centre, Didsbury, Heaton Moor, Ashton-under-Lyne, Bolton, and more also set to welcome Eurovision fans through their doors.
Event organisers say the screenings will encourage singalongs and fancy dress.
“We’re delighted to be working with the BBC to bring Eurovision’s grand final live into cinemas across the UK for the first time ever,” said John Travers from CinemaLive.
“We want audiences to enjoy themselves, so get your fancy dress on, and come together to enjoy this historic occasion on the big screen.”