By Kathryn Wheeler, Journal contributor.
Since the pandemic, the Islands have seen an influx of small businesses, bringing an array of experiences and services previously only accessible on the mainland. While each business offers something very different, their owners share a similar vision: bringing more life to the Islands by sharing their passions with the community.
Under the Needle Tattoo Shop (135 Spring St, Friday Harbor)
Josh Sharpe, a summer resident of San Juan Island for the past 40 years, opened Under the Needle Friday Harbor this past summer. When Covid hit, Sharpe found his 15-year-old Seattle tattoo shop (also named Under the Needle) shuttered, as most other businesses on his block. He decided to make the move to Kirkland, Washington and open up his shop again, also allowing him closer access to San Juan, just a boat ride away. Sharpe said that “Every time I’m up there it’s always a big joke that we should open a tattoo shop. After the 100th time of saying that, I decided to finally open.” Sharpe has a big vision for his new shop. He seeks to make it into a world-renowned destination for some of the best tattoo artists in the world—from Japanese tattooers to traditional Samoan tattooers using the ancient “tapping” technique. He sees the beauty and uniqueness of the islands as a perfect backdrop to promote the art of tattooing and provide a service to those looking for high-quality, artistic, and world-renowned body art. While the shop is currently under construction, it is open and will soon run on an appointment basis (which can be accessed on the shop’s website (https://undertheneedle.net/utn-friday-harbor-opening/), and feature rotating artists every two weeks.
Salty at Heart Apothecary (310 Spring St, Friday Harbor)
A sense of serenity and calm envelopes Salty at Heart, Sarah Bernstin’s new apothecary in Friday Harbor. The store is filled with tinctures, balms, an array of crystals, and locally sourced personal-use and home products. Sarah, a kayak guide, EMT, and waitress, who has lived on and off San Juan Island since 2006, found her grounding at sea from having a “mini apothecary”, which contained crystals, cards, and a special journal. She chose to create the store as an expansion of this in order to bring that sacred space to Islanders. “I have always felt that our community in the islands could benefit from a store that intentionally sourced all kinds of good, healthy, well-made medicines and products,” she said. Many of her products are eco-friendly and made with zero waste, from reusable beeswax bowl covers to hair products to dish soap. Sarah is looking forward to expanding the workshops she offers at the apothecary and making more in-house products. She’s excited to further create a space where one can come in and sip a locally sourced herbal tonic or tea and find some much-needed grounding and calm. Salty at Heart is open 11-5 p.m. Thursday-Monday.
Studio 50 on First
(50 First St, Friday Harbor)
Angel Colmenares, an island resident since 2017, has spent his career as a professional in both videography and cinematography. He was first inspired by the camera from the foreign movies that he snuck into as a kid in his hometown of Mexico City. After a life of traveling and living in the most bustling cities, he sought out San Juan for its slower pace of love and small community. Angel has dreamed of having a gallery in which to share his work since childhood and felt the island was the perfect place to do so. He seeks to capture this community in his work, which spans from old-style black-and-white portraits to modern digital abstracts. He is currently developing a book of portraits of local Islanders that will be shown in the gallery in the coming months. “My goal is to have a place that is going to represent people from the community, and my art, [and] a cool place to hang out, see art and enjoy it.” All prints are for sale, as well as various apparel featuring intricate designs. The studio is open for winter hours from 11-4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, with occasional weekend hours as well.
Eco Taxi Service
(San Juan Island)
Sumaynin Kachai, owner of the new Eco Taxi Service, transports customers in style in a white Tesla Electric Sudan. His mission is simple: “to provide great taxi service on San Juan Island.” In a rare place without Uber or Lyft, the service may prove useful to many and help to uphold the island’s focus on an environmentally friendly means of living. The taxi operates from 5 a.m.-11 p.m. daily, and rates are determined by distance.