Photo by Jessica Keller: Aliesha Tilson and her boyfriend, Joseph McSween, stand with their puppy, Daisy, in the middle of their plant and tattoo shop, Nightshade, in Uptown.
Photo by Jessica Keller: Aliesha Tilson and her boyfriend, Joseph McSween, stand with their puppy, Daisy, in the middle of their plant and tattoo shop, Nightshade, in Uptown.

 While plant shops and tattoo parlors are scattered throughout Seattle, only Uptown has a hybrid plant and tattoo shop.

Aleisha Tilson and her boyfriend, Joseph McSween, opened Nightshade, 615 Queen Anne Ave. N. in Uptown, across from the MarQueen Hotel, in March.

“There’s a lot of plant shops and a lot of tattoo shops, so we wanted to be unique,” McSween said.

Tilson runs the plant end of the shop, while McSween set up his tattoo shop operations at the back of the business.

Tilson admits, however, opening a new business during a pandemic had an element of risk.

“It was a little stressful but a little exciting, too,” she said.

Tilson has sold plants online since 2019, and McSween has been tattooing for six years after working most of his career as an oil painter.

“I kind of mastered oil painting, and I was just challenged by tattoos,” McSween said. “Just staying dedicated and focused has helped me a lot, I feel like.”

Tilson said when they first met, McSween was doing tattoo pop-ups at different plant shops, including the one Tilson worked at part time.

“And we saw how excited it got people, so we wanted to open one of our own,” she said.

McSween said, with Nightshade, they now have the opportunity to spend more time together and pursue their own interests. He said he likes how he can offer clients a more intimate space than they might have at another shop, and the plants in the front section create a soothing atmosphere.

“Just being around nature, you know, is calming,” McSween said.

While he painted in color, McSween specializes in black and gray tattoos by choice because he is color blind. He said he tattoos in any subject style, however, and does a lot of botanical work. McSween said all of his tattoos are created specifically for the client, and he does not reproduce subject matter from a book.

Tilson said her career of selling plants started with a love she developed growing up.

“I’ve kind of always been into plants,” she said.

Tilson said her a grandmother was a Master Gardener, and her family planted and raised a garden every year.

“We immersed ourselves in nature, and I found I’ve been my best self in nature,” Tilson said, adding raising and taking care of plants has helped her deal with anxiety and depression.

As well, when she began working part time at a plant store, she realized she knew a lot more than she initially thought she did.

Tilson said she specializes in common and collector houseplants. She will offer some outdoor plants at the beginning of growing season and some herbs, as well as vegetable starts by request. If she does not have a plant people are looking for, Tilson will order it for customers.

Tilson said she orders most of her plants from Washington state and some from California and Oregon.

“I try not to go too far out of the way,” she said. “I try to stay local to the West Coast.”

Tilson said she tries to feature other local artists in her shop, including hand-made pottery from a local indigenous artist and other trinkets made by another person who creates preserved plant displays.

“We like to do a lot of little collaborations with artists in the community,” Tilson said.

Since opening, Tilson said business has picked up at the shop, especially with the reopening of restaurants and other businesses in the community.

It was definitely a risk,” Tilson said of opening during a pandemic. “It was a little stressful but a little exciting, too.”

Tilson and McSween said, when they first considered opening a store front, they wanted to open in Uptown because they live in the neighborhood.

“I don’t know, we just love our neighborhood,” Tilson said.

They also benefited from the lower rental rates being offered in the neighborhood because property management companies are eager to fill empty storefronts, which made it easier for them to realize their dream.

Since opening, Tilson said the community has welcomed their store.

“Getting to know all the local businesses has helped,” Tilson said.

“Everyone has been so great in helping us to promote,” McSween added.

McSween also mentioned that he told one of his clients who came in to get a tattoo about the empty storefronts and the deals being offered to potential renters, and she opened up a salon next door.

“So, we’re kind of trying to revitalize the neighborhood a little bit,” McSween said.

Nightshade plant shop is open from noon to 6  p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, although Tilson suggests people check social media, including Facebook and Instagram, to see if the store is open. People can also visit www.nightshadeplant.com for more information.

McSween operates his tattoo shop by appointment only.

People can fill out an appointment form at https://nightshadeplant.com/nightshade-tattoo.