My name’s joeltron, I own two APP member studios in Australia (Opal Heart in Perth and Stone Heart in Sydney) as well as being a pretty okish body piercer myself.
Over the years I have hyper-focused on specific goals that I wanted to achieve and found success, other times I have worked my ass to the bone and failed miserably. It’s all kind of part of growth as a piercer, but also as a person.
You will ALWAYS have failures in business and life, but the big takeaway that I feel helped me get more success is to think ahead and pick very specific desired outcomes.
For example, you can not please EVERY client that comes in your door. The sooner you accept this reality, the sooner you can spend your time focusing on the clients that you CAN make happier. Being able to give them your full attention and focus means you both will have a better experience.
The same theory can be applied to nearly any part of your business too. Don’t try and stock every single tier of jewellery to hit every single price point. Pick the stuff that YOU want YOUR personal brand to represent – and don’t be forgiving in the slightest about it!
A big part of this is for transitioning studios. Those who are going from lower quality jewellery to professional-grade stuff, those going from more basic compliant jewellery to more sophisticated designs, or those going for all genuine stones.
You may get previous regular clients coming in going “I can’t afford this anymore! What happened to the $5 steel bars you used to have?” and that is totally OK, explain to them that you have focused your goal on only offering the highest quality jewellery because it makes your piercings heal and look better. They will either get it and continue to be a loyal customer to you or they were only actually seeing you in the first place because simply you were cheap.
Sure there will be downsides to it, some of your clients may genuinely not be able to afford what you are selling due to their limited income. Someone working at Mcdonald’s most likely won’t be able to afford that BVLA Boston Tiger with genuine opals, but that doesn’t mean that they should be sold external thread steel either.
This is where a good balance can come into play. Establish exactly what demographic you want to focus on and ensure your studio reflects these goals. Try and make them more niche, try and make them different from your competition – but most importantly ensure that they reflect YOUR personal interests and are going to make you happy.
For example, if you want to specialise in genital piercings because you really enjoy it, awesome! Focus on that! Have multiple hard copies of printed genital piercing portfolios to show your clients, focus your advertising at local adult stores, post in forums that share similar interests like FetLife, stock ALL of the genital jewellery and most importantly talk to other local piercers. They don’t need to be your friends, they don’t need to even need to be exceptionally good piercers but you can reach out to them and explain you are directing your business to eventually be exclusively genital work and you want to send them clients for things you don’t offer and you would love them to send you genital work.
These types of relationships are symbiotic and can work out exceptionally for everyone involved, but most importantly the client.
You can even do the same thing with jewellery brands. Chat to your nearest piercer (or just stalk them online) and try and differentiate what your offerings are. They mostly pierce with CZ prongs, but you personally really love cabochons…. So fill your cabinets with cabs!
The hardest part, at least for me, has been how high to set my goals. Do you wake up one day and just throw away every single external thread piece of jewellery you own? Do you suddenly one day just decide to no longer offer nostrils with pig-tails and rings?
One of my biggest successes was opening Opal Heart. I found a city in Australia that seemingly REALLY needed high-quality jewellery as all the other stores were slinging mediocre crap. I built a small space, painted it metallic purple, put a bunch of silly pictures of cats up and filled the cabinets with all the jewellery that I loved surrounded by unicorn toys. I wanted a space that I personally would have lost my SHIT over as a young enthusiast and would camp outside overnight just to be closer to it.
Not only did this attract clients that shared a similar aesthetic and interest, but it also attracted some amazing practitioners who joined my crew and helped me further strengthen my vision and has turned the studio into the success that it is today.
Before Opal Heart, I opened a studio called First Blood (which we later named Stone Heart) with a business partner. It was my biggest failure in life and not that it wasn’t a good studio, we were the first APP members in Australia. The problem was I simply wasn’t happy because my business partner and myself did not share the same vision. We were constantly fighting over exactly where to aim and eventually it resulted in the failure of the studio and a large amount of lost time, money and energy. I don’t want to say it was my business partner’s fault, although he was a total ass hat and failed at many other ventures after, but because we didn’t share the same goals.
The same thing can happen without another person involved too and that’s the scary part. Our minds are glorious things but can also fuck with us pretty bad. You may think you know what you want but deviate halfway through the plan or struggle internally to stay focused on your goals.
Before you set your trajectory and shoot yourself up into the sky, first think exactly where you actually want to land first, because you want to make sure that you land comfortably and safely on the big pile of pillows we call success and not face-first into the pavement.