Image Tattoo Studios, headed by award winning Tattoo Artist; Dane Forester, who already has a well know reputation for high quality artwork. Being tattooed can often be a social experience, sometimes done supported by friends and family, and as anyone who’s had a long tattoo session knows, having a break for some refreshments is a must.
This is what inspired Leigh and her sister Debbie, along with the backing and support of Leigh's husband; Dane to open an Image studio in Okehampton, but with a unique difference. Upstairs is a quiet and private, well equipped tattoo space where you can indulge in the quality artwork you’d expect from Image.
But it’s downstairs where things really come alive, with the addition of a top quality coffee lounge that’s already gained the reputation for offering the best coffee in town, exclusively made on request with Taw River Dairy gold top milk as well as delicious home made cakes, light lunches, and some unusual and delicious takes on a cream tea – try the savoury cheese scone with cream cheese and chutney; or unique local jams from Crediton like raspberry and violet or summer pudding alongside your generous portion of clotted cream.
We visited Leigh and Debbie to try some their delicious treats and find out more about Image Tattoo & Coffee Lounge, Okehampton
What inspired you to set up a tattoo studio in a coffee shop?
"It was really a combination of things, the first being that there was a gap in the market for a tattoo studio in Okehampton and also being that I as an experienced baker, finding baking really therapeutic and satisfying but also feeling apprehensive about branching into the professional baking world fully. Then there is Deb's who has a vast knowledge of the service industry. Having worked and managed coffee / milkshake bars she had the desire to go it alone (so to speak) and show case great coffee in our local town. The cherry on the cake (no pun intended) was my husband Dane with his already existing tattoo studio in Exeter, seeing his clients bring in coffee after coffee during tattoo sittings and suddenly there was a bit of a light bulb moment. So really it was a joint idea and collective venture coming together with each of our strengths and giving it a bash."
Your coffee has already been a smash hit. What makes it special?
"It's really quite simple, we use great quality ingredients - our motto being 'quality over quantity. We source great quality local produce from Devon and Cornwall, no expense spared. Our coffee is an all round smooth Devon roast with notes of chocolate, teamed with the glorious local Taw River Dairy 'happy cow' milk makes it a winning combination."
What kind of food do have? What are your favourites?
"Using suppliers and ingredients from Devon and Cornwall, (our ethos being "you can't buy happiness but you can buy local") we offer breakfasts in way of pastries, bagels with butter and jam. Light lunches; homemade quiche, filled bagels, cream teas and delicious home baked treats - the most popular being our brownies and malted chocolate chip cornflake cookies."
We also offer great tasting milkshakes made from only the best ingredients. We try and keep our menu seasonal, so as we go through the seasons the menu will be subject to change.
My personal favourite is the lightly spiced carrot and cranberry cream tea with a huge gold latte - you can't beat it.
Deb's loves the cornflake cookie milkshake - milkshakes being her specialty, she makes a banging cappuccino too and won't say no to a summer pudding cream tea and wedge of brownie.
Dane is always eating all the cheese scones fresh out of the oven and partial to a cheese, chorizo and homemade pesto bagel for lunch. He loves a gold flat white with a slab of lemon loaf."
Is it only tattoo folks that enjoy your coffee shop?
"Not at all, we have a fabulous eclectic mix of customers from the younger generation to the older generation, tattooed and not tattooed, the space is really versatile, lending itself to both aspects without crossing over if you don't wish it too. We've had to break down some barriers with the concept of a coffee shop combined with a tattoo studio but we're getting there and the response has been great so far.
What are your plans for the future?
"We've still got a long way to go, with developing the menu and continuing to make physical improvements to the building - with it being in an old Victorian arcade, there's aspects that need some TLC.
We'd like to trial some special events, we're looking at holding a 'breakfast club' on the first Friday of each month on a booking only basis which will enable us to provide a wider range of breakfast bites and showcase Devon and Cornwall produce.
With that in mind and planning permitting, we'd love to host some evening events, but these are very much in the future.For now we're focusing on building up the coffee shop and tattoo studio to the best of our ability and bringing a fresh new vibe to Okehampton and surrounding areas."
On the tattooing side, what do women most often ask for? Are there any stand out tattoos on women you remember?
"Tattoo's really vary from person to person, they're so much more accepted now and therefore many more people (including women) are getting tattoo's for fun, personal reasons, healing, memorial. One that stands out particularly (and most recently) is a lovely lady who battled and survived breast cancer. she was incredible, it was her first tattoo and she asked Dane to tattoo a zip over her scar, incorporating a lucky horse shoe. For this particular lady, it was more than a tattoo, it was stamp of survival, a statement of "I won", it was a memory, part of her healing process and her personal journey in her full recovery. That's when tattoo's are really something, and I feel really proud that my husband can be a part of that movement."
What’s the number 1 reason to give Image Tattoo and Coffee Lounge a try?
"Quality ..... quality coffee, quality local food and drinks, quality tattoo artwork - you won't be disappointed, we promise!"
After sampling some delicious sweet and savoury treats as well as the luxurious gold coffee rage, we can second that statement. It was great to see a new family run, start up business doing so well and making the most of the wonderful local produce. But don't just take our word for it, try it yourself with a complementary discount for all ATMO reader...
Readers quote code IMAGEATMO and receive 10% off food and drink in the coffee lounge. ENJOY!