Spurred by the pending redevelopment of its building in Scott’s Addition, a local tattoo shop has landed in the Arts District.
Moving Mountains Tattoo Collective recently reopened at 20 E. Broad St. after relocating from the former Dairy Bar building at 1600 Roseneath Road.
Owner Lake Stephens said she set out to find a new home for her nearly 3-year-old shop because of the Dairy Bar property’s pending demolition, which prompted other tenants including Tang & Biscuit and Biscuits & Gravy to abruptly close over the summer.
The tattoo parlor is now leasing about 1,400 square feet in a space that came available when architecture firm Hickok Cole moved its office to Scott’s Addition in the spring.
“I really fell in love with Scott’s Addition while we were over there, so I was trying to look for spots there,” Stephens said. “But I originally wanted a shop in the Arts District. I love being over there, the community, the culture and the general vibe definitely fits us. Once I saw (20 E. Broad St.), I didn’t even bother looking at other spots. I just knew, like, this is it for us.”
Stephens got her start in the tattoo industry in Scranton, Pennsylvania. After arriving in Richmond about eight years ago, she worked at local shops including Two Pillars Tattoo and Old Soul Tattoo (now Yellow Bird Tattoo) before launching Moving Mountains in 2021.
Upon moving into her first spot, Stephens “went a little crazy” decorating, as she put it. She painted landscapes of lush forests and mountain peaks on the shop’s walls, while the environs included a picnic table and grass-colored shag carpet.
She said that since the building was likely to be razed, she had the green light to try to make being in Moving Mountains an interactive experience.
“I figured I’ll make it look like a little forest inside this shop,” Stephens said. “I’ve kind of created the shop to be like you’re inside of a Bob Ross painting.”
It turned out to be a trial run for the Arts District home, which is getting a similarly bucolic makeover. The effort even has Stephens rethinking her tattooing tendencies: She mostly does black-and-white work but is considering getting back into doing color work.
“It’s kind of hard to say ‘I don’t do color’ when the entire shop looks like a Bob Ross painting,” she said, laughing.
Stephens and another artist, April Raine, are working out of the new shop, though Stephens said the paintings remain a work in progress. She’s looking to host a grand opening in the spring.
In addition to getting the tattoo shop open, Stephens also is dipping into the e-commerce business – for a good cause.
Stephens has a prosthetic leg that she said needs to be replaced, and she’s selling shirts with her art on it to raise money for the new prosthesis. She said getting into yoga a few years ago totally reshaped her body but also wore down her prosthetic leg.
“All the downward dogs and the lunges have worn down the titanium screws in this running blade. Which I guess isn’t good,” she said. “So now there’s a shirt that I’m trying to sell to raise money to buy a leg.”
She said she’s trying to get a new leg by the end of the year. Juggling that with relocating the shop has made for a busy second half of 2023.
“It’s one of those things where it’s like, man, if this isn’t the worst time for this to happen,” Stephens said. “It’s been a lot. But I’m grateful to have help.”
Moving Mountains is arriving in the Arts District as another tattoo shop is leaving. Unkindness Art has been located a few blocks west at 220 W. Broad St. since 2015 but is preparing to move to Brookland Park Boulevard.