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The 800-pound tattooed gorilla in Chicago when you talk about skin ink is Deluxe Tattoo. And the shop is formidable, really, with a worldwide reputation and TV exposure for its artists on TLC’s L.A. Ink. But outside the hubbub, Esther Garcia has been building a reputation for herself and her amazingly detailed work. So much so that she works from a private studio in Garfield Park and has an exclusive client list. She picks only the projects that engage her, and she’s best known for intricate flower work, antique patterns, and Asian-inspired designs.

“I spend 50 percent of the time the tattoo takes in research,” Garcia says. “I’ll soak my brain in similar images. It’s a really intensive process.” butterfatstudios.com

A resistance swimming pool, underwater and land treadmills, and a therapy gym with the same flooring as that found in the Chicago Bears’ weight room? That is just a sample of the therapeutic equipment you’ll find at Integrative Pet Care, a rehab and wellness facility in Logan Square designed for dogs and cats of all sizes. Whether your pet is recovering from surgery, getting old, or just out of shape, Integrative Pet Care’s compassionate and well-trained staff (all are either veterinarians or animal rehabilitation therapists) offer a number of treatment options: massage, chiropractic, herbal medicine, and low-level laser therapy, to name just a few. 2520 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-269-2964, integrativepetcare.com

When it comes to grooming services, many businesses bathe and groom pets behind walls or closed doors, sometimes leaving owners disappointed with the results. At Bark Bark Club, the open atmosphere and friendly service have earned the eight-year-old Edgewater pet care shop a devoted following. Schedule a full grooming package ($35 and up includes massage, bath, fur and nail trimming, ear cleaning, fragrance, and bow or bandanna) or a last-minute nail trim or teeth brushing ($12 each). And don’t worry about the name: Cats are welcome, too. 5943 N. Broadway; 773-878-7233, barkbarkclub.com

Sometimes we love an aesthetician more for what she doesn’t do—namely, talk too much, sell, judge, or prey on facial flaws. Amy Halman, an aesthetician and massage therapist at Ruby Room, has just the right touch. She’s involved with her clients, calling to follow up, asking about diet or stress, and analyzing your skin but in a caring, helpful, never pushy way. Not to mention that she’s solved many a skin crisis, says one convert, who claims she tried facials all over the city before becoming a regular. But beyond her soothing, connected presence, Halman’s customized Arcona (a paraben-free skin care line) facials speak for themselves. At the Ruby Room, 1743-45 W. Division St.; 773-235-2323

After attracting a cult following at Kiva Day Spa on East Pearson during its heyday, Alina Lazarvitch discreetly opened her own brow business called Arch Angel on the third floor at 49 East Oak Street two years ago. Lazarvitch, who often puts in 12-hour days to meet demand, specializes in a natural look, waxing and plucking to present a polished version of your own brow. Her $45 technique has won over fashion industry insiders, a fair collection of men, and, as the store has no outdoor signage or advertising, those lucky enough to be alerted through word of mouth. 49 E. Oak St.; 312-202-0910

A woman’s wedding day is no time for trendy makeup that she’ll later regret. That’s why many area brides turn to Sonia Roselli, who specializes in a clean and pretty airbrushed look with a touch of glam. The 40-year-old Alabama native, who counts Vera Wang as a client (she does makeup for the brand’s local fashion shows), opened her Rogers Park beauty studio last year with two artists; today, she employs ten, all with commercial experience, and plans to expand again in October. At $395 a session, Roselli herself does not come cheap, but brides testify that her experience with models translates into flawless photos. Sonia Roselli Esthétique, 7363 N. Greenview Ave.; 773-371-8596

Once Banana Republic’s senior director of merchandising and now an apparel industry consultant, Julie Watson offers deep and wide fashion knowledge without the standard fashion hauteur. “My job is helping women find their confidence,” says Watson, 40, who charges $475 for four hours. Great style, she says, shouldn’t depend on one’s pants size or ability to pay top dollar chasing the latest trends. That means she’ll scour the racks at Ann Taylor Loft and J.Crew with as much energy as when she’s browsing the runway looks at Ultimo and Armani. Her clients range in size from 00 to 24 and include a 51-year-old University of Chicago physician and a 33-year-old stay-at-home mom. juliewatsonstyle.com


Photography: (Garcia) Nathan Kirkman; (Dog) Kendall Karmanian

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