Meet Mick Howells of celebrity inking spot Kindred Tattoo in South Woodford
PUBLISHED: 16:58 22 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:58 22 October 2020
Mick Howells, founder of Kindred Tattoo in South Woodford, on building a business based on family values and why the urge to ink remains so strong
Life could have turned out very different for Mick Howells if he’d been a bit less of a free spirit and a bit more business-minded in his youth.
As the man himself explains: “At 16 I was at the fledgling stage of what could have been a very good career in the music industry but I wasn’t mature enough to grab it and I let a good opportunity slip by.”
But the music industry’s loss was eventually the tattoo world’s gain, with Mick, brother Chris and the rest of the team of talented tattooists at Kindred largely recognised as among of the finest in the country, with Ed Sheeran and Emma Bunton just two of the many celebrities sporting the studio’s inkings.
Not that Mick found his calling as a tattoo artist immediately after his ill-fated foray into music. “I have always been creative in one way or another, but I spent many years working corporate jobs that financed my artistic projects/hobbies,” he explains. “After years of working for the man, however, and with the added impetus of starting a family, I decided it was time to be closer to home and crafted a way to realise that - and so Kindred was born.”
Talking to Mick, there can be little doubt that he is truly passionate about what he does, and gets a tremendous buzz out of being able to use his artistic skills to create the perfect inking for his clients. But equally as satisfying to him has been the Kindred family he has helped nurture over the years (the company’s name was chosen very much with this in mind). “The Kindred family is everything and the very reason for our collective success,” he attests enthusiastically. “Graft from the team in the studio, support and trust from the family at home and the trust of all our clients to let us do what we do - that is what the business is based on.”
Indeed, it is an ethos that shapes Mick’s business style: “I like to keep things relaxed and run a happy home,” he concurs. “I’m not one to bark orders but believe in surrounding myself with good people with a collective interest in doing well. Treat people with respect and it comes back to you.”
It was this strong sense of working together that made the closure of Kindred during lockdown so hard for Mick and the crew. “Our days are so sociable with the interaction between us and clients, to not have that and no clue as to when it would return certainly added to the strain,” Mick says, before quickly adding: “Not that it was exclusive to us, the whole country was in the same boat.”
And get on with it he did, finding positivity through social media, where he was able to maintain a connection with his many followers. “We got so much encouragement and wanting designs which was great,” Mick recalls with a grin. “And now we’re up and running and I feel we’ve come out on top, with a renewed energy and ethusiasm to enjoy every day to its fullest.”
Definitely a glass half full guy, Mick is optimistic about the future of his business. “Of course finances will be a hurdle as the furlough scheme ends and redundancies loom but for many what we offer is more than just art on your skin. We create beautiful tattoos with significance and meaning behind them and they’re often a link to someone or some time and place dear to their heart. After being suppressed so much in lockdown the public seem as enthusiastic as ever to get inked and have a bit of what they fancy.”
While a career as a tattoo artist might be a bit out of the mainstream, there is nothing alternative about the qualities Mick deems essentail to being a successful business person. “For me being organised is everything. I need to know what I’m doing and what the team is doing at all times, especially in this Covid world. That and being adaptable and determined. Those qualities should go some way towards seeing you right,” he offers.
And finally, in an alternative universe, what career would Mick be pursuing? “I hope I’d be doing the music career I stalled on at 16 and would be travelling the world and performing to the masses,” he chuckles.
155 High Road, South Woodford E18 2PA; kindredtattoo.co.uk