Harley Young speaks with DC - the brains behind Manchester’s latest (and wildest) tattoo and beauty studio

You’re probably wondering 'where on earth do you get the idea to turn a swimming pool into a beauty and aesthetics studio?' And how do you even source a swimming pool to do it in?  

Meet DC, owner and creator of SHALLOWS - Manchester’s most ambitious (and, let’s face it, coolest) tattoo and aesthetics studio yet.

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DC (right) and hair stylist Danny (left) Image: SHALLOWS

I asked if I could have it there and then. From that moment, I was obsessed.

Described as 'the bastard love child of an underground club and a beauty salon', DC explained just how SHALLOWS is earning its stripes as an inclusive, alternative beauty service provider. 

“The space came to me through a friend of a friend who'd said ‘There's a hotel in town. They're looking for something cool to put in their spare room. It might even be a swimming pool. But anyway, could you give the hotel manager a call?’ And I was like ‘That's nonsense. There's no way that's a thing…’,” explained DC when I went to visit her at the salon on Princess Street, on the edge of the city’s Gay Village.

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The space, which hadn't been touched since the 90s, was in much need of TLC Image: SHALLOWS

“I left it about three weeks then decided to call up,” continued DC, adding that the manager of the disused building had described it as a difficult space to renovate and she’d need to ‘use her imagination’ when first visiting. 

“Even up until that moment I was apathetic, but we got a torch and went down around a windy corner in the pitch black. He switched the lights on but they were flickering. I thought ‘This is it. This is how I die.’ Then he shone a torch onto the space where the pool was and I loved it. I asked if I could have it there and then. From that moment I was obsessed with it.”

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Blueprints and first draft designs - renovating the old pool took some serious work Image: SHALLOWS

Necessity being the mother of invention, DC took on the renovation herself. To turn a small budget into a big idea she renovated 90% of the place with her own hands, only leaving the health and safety stuff like electrics to the experts. 

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DC; tattoo artist, salon owner, renovator Image: SHALLOWS

"It was essentially just a completely fucking derelict building..." she explained, adding that the owners of the building had challenged her to renovate it. 

"I was like 'I can absolutely renovate this.' having never renovated anything before, only having tools from B&Q, and absolutely no qualifications. But, here we are." 

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And lo, SHALLOWS was born Image: SHALLOWS

DC shared that her main aim with SHALLOWS was to tear down the standard beauty formula, to disrupt what's considered to be the accepted ‘norm’, and to create an inclusive and friendly salon for all.

"It's really important for me to smash the ideas of beauty and tattoo together with the concept of creativity rather than perfection. What I wanted to do was show that things can be approached with a lot of fun and a lot of freedom."

DC aims to turn the word 'vanity' into a positive phrase rather than a slur or a way to put someone down for loving themselves.

"It's not political. It is beauty. It is skin deep. Let's use that to our advantage," she explained, adding that the location of the salon is very special to her and SHALLOWS is designed to pay homage to the fact.

"I wanted to create something that was special and respectful to Canal Street, Manchester as a whole, and what it stands for in terms of alternative breakthroughs," said DC, continuing with: "There's a lot of pain and there's a lot of trauma that's gone before us to allow us to be, to act and dress how we want."

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Meg AKA Euphoria Hair Creations Image: SHALLOWS

"I'd like for people to come here and feel like they don't have to give a fuck about what people think. That's how we've set it up. That's our entire vision and everyone who comes to work here also thinks the same way. That's what's important. It's about finding how we can be an outpost for inclusivity in the most original sense of the word - not just the word you put in your LinkedIn bio to tick a box."

SHALLOWS is home to freelance artists that are experts in: tattooing; hairstyling; aesthetics; PMU (permanent makeup); nails; piercing; acupuncture and lashes.

Thanks to their collaborative way of working, customers can book in for up to eight services on any one given day. 

If you thought there couldn't be any more going on, there is. SHALLOWS also serves as a speakeasy with waiting service for coffee, alcoholic drinks and food - customers can order refreshments straight to their chair using the dedicated QR code.

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Just some of the talented artists at SHALLOWS Credit: SHALLOWS

The team at Shallows are friendly and attentive, with the mantra that no idea is too big or too wild. Everyone's aim is to help every customer feel fierce, confident and, most of all, comfortable to be their authentic self without fear of judgement.

Click here to find out more about SHALLOWS and book an appointment today

SHALLOWS, Whitworth Locke, 74 Princess Street, Civic Quarter, Manchester M1 6JD

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Follow Harley Young on Twitter @Harley__Young

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