Meet The Owner – Hot Rod Heidi’s Vintage Closet + Sunken Ship Tattoo And Piercing

June 18, 2022

Meet the Owner

Editor’s note: is working to introduce our readers to more independent business owners here in Everett, Washington. We want to highlight their businesses, tell their stories and invite you to shop locally and help move Everett forward. If you know of a business we should feature, send us a suggestion via email: Leland Dart – Publisher

Vintage clothing, tattoos, piercings and a great vibe and atmosphere.

It began with some vintage clothing sold out of a classic travel trailer at car shows and on a Snohomish street corner. It grew to a 700 square foot shop, then 1000 square feet and since 2015 has been in a 4000 square foot space that’s a fixture in Everett at the corner of Grand and Hewitt. We’re talking about Hot Rod Heidi’s Vintage Closet and Sunken Ship Tattoo and Piercing.

This week we had a chance to talk with Heidi and Matt Sawdon about what may be Everett, Washington’s coolest family business. Co-located at the corner of Hewitt and Grand just west of downtown Everett. Walk in on Grand and you’re in Sunken Ship, walk in on Hewitt and you’re in Heidi’s Vintage Closet. If you need directions just type 1301 Hewitt Avenue, Everett into your favorite search engine.

(l to r) Heidi, Matt and Levi Sawdon inside Sunken Ship Tattoo.

In their past Heidi managed a Starbucks and Matt was in construction. While Matt apprenticed learning the art of tattooing, Heidi began collecting and selling vintage clothing. Their first brick and mortar shop was a small space at the end of Everett Avenue. After a year and a half they moved to the 3700 block of Broadway in an end space before taking over the whole building. They spent nine years there before moving to Hewitt and Grand.

They currently have six tattoo artists and two piercers, (including Matt and Heidi). Their son Levi also works at the shop. He finished his apprenticeship and has been a tattoo artist for the past three years. Each tattoo artist has a style. Photorealism, traditional, fine lines, etc. We asked Matt what makes a good tattoo artist?

“A hard worker who understands art, is dedicated and takes care of their customers,” he said. “We’ve been at this a long time and can tell quickly if we want this person working with us.”

Many of their artists have come to Everett from other shops both in Seattle and States across the country. Tattoos and piercings are popular in the Northwest which means this is where the work is and Matt and Heidi say that attracts artists. Some come in as visiting artists and others love the area, are a good fit and stay.

Sunken Ship Tattoo artist “Sawblade” works with a customer getting his first-ever tattoo.

So who gets a tattoo? Forget the stereotypes. While business boomed for Sunken Ship when the Lincoln came to town or back from a deployment it’s not just sailors getting a tattoo.

“People of all ages and walks of life come in to get tattoos,” Heidi told us. “We did tattoos for the last two Mayors of Everett, Ray Stephanson and Cassie Franklin.”

Matt mentioned the oldest customer he’s had was 87. “People who get tattoos are motivated and come in to to record something personal,” he said.

The shop has even had calls from hospice nurses on behalf of their patients and they’ve also had the occasional call from a funeral home asking the shop to honor someone’s last wishes. Matt says he’s done that a couple of times.

In addition to tattooing, piercing has become quite popular. Again the range of customers wanting a piercing really varies. “Women in their 60s come in and say I just couldn’t do it when I was younger but now I can,” explained Heidi. “The jewelry is different, its better quality, no more piercing guns, we use needles and undergo bloodborne pathogen certification.”

The tattoo and piercing side of the business is extremely busy and most of the artists have waiting lists. This works out in some cases as people who maybe made an impulsive decision to get body art have a bit of time to think things through before moving ahead. The shop does not do tattoo removal but Matt says 75 percent of his work is coverups of existing tattoos. “We have to work together to get the result the client wants,” Matt told us. “They have got to listen to what I’m saying as far as what’s possible to cover up or transform their existing tattoo.”

The best way to see the work of the shop is to check out their Facebook page here or their Instagram page here. You can set up a consultation visit online but you’ll have to come into the shop to book your appointment and pay your deposit. They’re open Tuesday – Saturday from 12 Noon – 9 PM at 1301 Hewitt Avenue in Everett, 98201 and the phone number is (425) 303-3344.

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My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring news and events in Everett, Washington. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett.

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