New tattoo shop opens in downtown Niles

Published 8:48 am Wednesday, December 23, 2020

NILES — Walking by the storefront at 207 N. Second Street, one might think the space was a salon or a spa. The atmosphere is open, clean looking and relaxed. The studio is adorned with soft colors, natural wood and colorful stone pieces. Through the French doorway, one steps into the waiting area where Erika Meller is ready for her next appointment. The space is Meller’s new downtown tattoo shop: Yours Truly Studio LLC.

Meller has been tattooing for 11 years and is looking forward to continuing her artform in her new studio in downtown Niles.

Meller’s new studio is a space with lots of natural light coming in the front window with soft colors and touches around. The combination of the lighter colors, light and natural wood finishes is something Meller hoped would make the tattoo studio more welcoming and less intimidating. It is a part of Meller’s new approach to tattooing her clients.

“I’d like to be able to enjoy my pieces, rather that just getting [the client] in and out for their own enjoyment,” Meller said. “I need to be enjoying myself as well to produce good art. I feel like, now that I’m in my own space, on my own time, work has become more enjoyable again like how it was in the beginning.”

Meller said she was inspired by other tattoo artists and clients on shows talking about how important their work was.

“It was more about people’s stories and why they were getting what they were getting [tattooed],” Meller said. “That you could put something on somebody that was important to them, and they could carry it with them forever. You don’t get to keep your car forever. You can lose jewelry, but you can tattoo something on your body, and that’s pretty cool. There aren’t too many things that people get to keep like that.”

She has spent over a decade honing her skills and working on her different art forms. She uses both coil and rotary tattoo machines, depending on which type of work the client wants done.

As Michigan is still enforcing appointment only guidelines for personal care services, including tattoos, Meller said she actually prefers the model because she can dedicate her full attention to the client’s needs and her artwork.

Bryan Williams, owner of The Brass Eye next door to Yours Truly Studio LLC, was Meller’s first client in the studio.

“It was a super easy design process,” Williams said, of working with Meller. “She does different styles [of tattoos], and I’ve been wanting a New Traditional, but in the style of Traditional American. It was the perfect opportunity to try out the new kid in town.”

Wililams said the piece on his forearm, featuring a yellow bird, took between two and two and a half hours.

“She’s a good conversationalist, and the time just flew by,” Williams said.

Before opening the studio, Meller, an Indiana resident, said the amount of other new business and development arriving in Niles attracted her to the city. As she was looking for a place to make her studio home, the real estate market was one indicator she paid attention to.

“I have friends in real estate that have told me, even before I started looking around, that they couldn’t find a house to rent or buy because people were trying to move here so quickly,” Meller said. “I saw all the construction going on between the apartments and the Drive and Shine. I saw all of those things happening, and I saw growth.”

As she put her shop together and made sure everything was lined up with the city and the health department, Meller appreciated the guidance she received as she installed extra sinks and a cleaning room in her studio.

“The health department was really helpful and accommodating,” Meller said. “Everybody has been so helpful, even when calling city hall downtown.”

Meller is working on an appointment-only basis at Yours Truly Studio LLC. Her work can be found on Instagram @ErikaMellerArtxo. She works on consultations over email, at and through text at (269) 357-5333.