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How Deep Roots Revolutionized the Piercing and Tattoo Industry

March 19, 2024 - by Sandy Vo

How Deep Roots Revolutionized the Piercing and Tattoo Industry

Outside of Park Row Shopping Center in Downtown Bellevue mounts a sign that reads ‘proposed land use action’ for a 22-story residential tower with promises of below-grade parking and ground-level active-use spaces. As one of the shops that currently resides in the plaza, Deep Roots is hopeful their business can continue to be part of the community. Co-owners Rion and Katrina Wickersham seemed optimistic when asked about the future -- despite the stereotypes they currently still face as a piercing shop.

“Finding a new retail space is very competitive and challenging, especially when there are outdated misconceptions that are still pervasive,” Katrina Wickersham said. “Hopefully we’re able to remain accessible to Eastside clients by finding the right property owner that can look at our history and financials and understand that we’re serious about our work.”

The Wickershams have spent decades of their careers reshaping the standards for the world of body modification. When they first opened Deep Roots in the University District 20 years ago, they noticed the industry was limited – tailored to a mostly younger audience and only offered small selections of steel-made jewelry.

This wasn’t the first time the Wickershams had this revelation. Over a decade before they opened their joint business, Rion started designing and making jewelry for himself out of – at the time --unconventional materials like gold and wood.

“I’ve always had a passion for piercings, but no one was making unique jewelry back then, so I started making designs I wanted to wear,” Rion Wickersham said. " It wasn't until people started coming up to me and asking if I could design something for them – that's when I realized there was an opportunity to provide something new to the area."

Katrina was in school studying international business law when Rion opened his own business in 2003– Buddha Jewelry – to provide people with new selections. Their passion for self-expression through body modification and entrepreneurial spirit formed the ideal combination to open Deep Roots, selling a diverse collection of Rion's designs alongside piercing and tattoo services. At the time, their business was one of the only shops to sell gold piercings in the greater Seattle region.

“We wanted to provide people with jewelry that doesn’t just sit there and sparkle, but something that talks about who you are and complements your style,” Katrina Wickersham said. "As years pass, we notice that piercings are less seen as a detraction or a rebellious statement, but a beautiful adornment."

In an area like Downtown Bellevue, where designer brands and high-end fashion are more prominent, it did not surprise the Wickershams that the community would look for the same caliber of quality in their jewelry collection. After being a piercer for over 30 years, Rion stated he has noticed the tattoo and piercing industry has become less about the ‘shock value’ and more about how it fits the client’s vision for themselves.

Deep Roots currently carries dozens of designer jewelry made from unique materials like white opal, black diamond, mercury mist topaz, and more. Katrina continues to see people her age who started out with silver rings in their noses and have graduated to a more a more elegant and upscale look.

“It’s as if this industry has grown with our generation, and we’re so proud to have been and continue to be a part of the evolution – it’s a beautiful thing to witness,” Katrina Wickersham said.

It has been two years since the Wickershams started looking for a new home in Downtown Bellevue, but they remain vigil in their search. Stop by Deep Roots and show them support by booking an appointment today.

This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.