Crave, the beauty aesthetic and tattoo boutique, in the Custard Factory in the ever of-the-moment-Digbeth has recently opened its doors and unearthed the secrets that lie behind the mysterious tweets. From 10am-8pm the boutique is open for business, but I must stress it's not a typical salon. Owner Beau and tattoo artist Kate have created a gender-free space (free of 'feminine' or 'masculine' colours), where black is the colour scheme. It has a somewhat dominatrix-esque quality and is rather intense, but it's also unlike any other beauty boutique/salon/spa/tattoo parlour you'll have been to. It's a dark (but wonderful), space where every customer is valued.
Do you have piercings, are covered in tattoos, but want a spray tan? Great. Crave welcome every individual who walks through their glass doors and is more than happy to accommodate the most butch of women and the most feminine of men. Gay, straight, or undecided, everyone deserves to be pampered, but more than anything Crave is in favour of the right of choice. Regardless of your 'look', social norms, or how society may deem you a 'girly girl', if you want a tattoo that covers your back, cool.
They are removing the stigma associated with tattoo parlours too. Crave is a high-end, luxurious brand where you won't be sniggered at if you wince at the pain. They are also the first tattoo parlour in Birmingham where your design comes to life through iPad interaction in the Hive area. Yep, a 3D mock-up of the tattoo will be displayed on the iPad prior to any needle to skin action.
You may wonder whether the name and so-called 'gender free' space is merely a smokescreen for what Crave actually is: a beauty salon. Here's what the owner Beau had to say.
Beau: The aesthetics of Crave and the mystery behind our involvement with social media is far from a smoke screen. Our cryptic tweets and Facebook announcements are based on what Crave is all about.
Tammy: Why have you chosen rather outlandish beauty treatments, such as the (somewhat controversial) vampire facial?
B: We didn't want Crave to be your average salon. I hand-picked the treatments and brands we use here because we've for the boutique to be unique. The unusual beauty treatments attract the type of customer we like – those who want to try something new and are interested in a more bespoke experience.
T: So is Crave about the customers, not just the treatments?
B: Definitely, we've created a boutique that was born out of a desire for something more. People want the exceptional, and we've formed a response to that (gestures to the room).
The treatments are grouped together, so customers can choose what's most appropriate, including The Clinic where non-invasive surgical and cellulite treatmenss, botox and tattoo removal can be found; The Boudoir which covers hair, make up and tan treatments, and Skincare which includes holistic therapies, advanced facials, and a steam spa.
Crave offer the full spectrum of beauty treatments along with tattoos, and of course it doesn't come cheap. Prices start from £10 in The Boudoir, and start from £50 for Skincare. If you've a problem area, or want to see results The Clinic is your best bet; they specialise in aesthetic procedures and you will see a marked improvement, as their 'before and after booklet shows. I found this somewhat creepy, but the results speak for themselves.
What I've found so refreshing about Crave isn't that it's the first of its kind, but how they accept every client; young/old, large, or small, Crave treats everyone as an individual, and it's nice to feel valued by your beauty therapist.