Wednesday 22 January 2020
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businessinsider - 1 month ago

This piercing studio is trying to disrupt the industry and fill the hole between Claire s and your grungy local shop

Those seeking ear-piercing face a painfully small spectrum of options that range from sleepy mall shops to intimidating tattoo parlors. Entrepreneurs Anna Harman and Lisa Bubbers first conceived of Studs last year as a bright, friendly, and fashionable option for any customer seeking a new ear modification. Take a look inside the shop that stuck the likes of model and actress Kaia Gerber, and could be the answer to filling a hole in the ear-piercing market. Visit Insider s homepage for more stories. Piercings can be rites of passage, acts of rebellion, or just a form of self-expression, but it can be hard to approach generic mall stores or intimidating tattoo and piercing parlors for a cute and easy ear addition. Despite between 30% and 40% of Americans having a piercing, the industry faced very little change before entrepreneurs Anna Harman and Lisa Bubbers first conceived Studs last year. The Manhattan boutique has caught fire within weeks of its November 19 opening, offering customers a cool, but friendly and approachable, ear-piercing alternative. I visited Studs downtown location and discovered a doctor s office-meets-Glossier aesthetic that feels worlds away from the hardcore tattoo shops and seedy streetside kiosks that sit just blocks away. See the shop that earned a nod of approval from model of the moment Kaia Gerber and could be the answer to filling a hole in the ear-piercing market. Studs now-CEO Anna Harman came up with the idea for the studio after going to get a piercing with now-CMO Lisa Bubbers at a tattoo parlor. Harman told me that though the shop offered a safe and clean piercing process, the overall experience was disappointing when she found she didn t like any of the jewelry to top off the ultimately expensive procedure.

The result is the Studs boutique, which is a bright, Instagrammable space with ear puns a-plenty that welcomes customers via both appointments and walk-ins. We call it our disco spaceship, Bubbers said of the neon-lit walls and displays. The shop is situated in Manhattan s NoLitA neighborhood, blocks away from the offices that founded similar retail startups like Everlane, Outdoor Voices, and Glossier. I found it felt a world away from my piercing experiences at both Claire s and seedy shops nestled near tourist traps in downtown Manhattan.

The front of the store functions as a jewelry store with racks of Studs basic jewelry alongside collaboration lines with Man Repeller, Susan Alexandra, and Bing Bang.

Counters are filled with Studs basic piercing jewelry, which includes shapes and symbols like stars, hearts, initials, and astrological signs. Earrings are priced from $30 to $180, offered both as a set or single piece. Fashion jewelry for the already-pierced runs from around $15 to $175. The wide spectrum of pricing includes more intricate designs and finer quality metals and stones like pave or black diamonds that are displayed alongside the standard piercing sets. The earrings are a healthy and reliable choice for fresh piercings, as they feature flat backs and surgical steel titanium and 14-karat gold construction.

The counter is also the first stop to the piercing experience, with detailed ear maps and lookbooks to set you off on a journey to your ideal earscape. A nearby menu describes the shop s flat fee as $35 for one and $50 for two on any part of the ear. This is in the same neighborhood as most ear piercings, though at many shops there can be some variation for different areas of the ear, making Studs package price a good deal. The hands-on employees helped me sort through the neon displays, and one smiling staffer behind the counter, who was decked out in her own earscapes, steered me towards a few best options for the cartilage piercing I had decided on getting.

The looks are organized by cheeky personas that can also be viewed online and offer at least four piercing placements and jewelry suggestions to contribute to a specific vibe. I dove into the earscapes online ahead of my visit, and noticed this is where Studs really makes its mark as a one-stop-shop with high-quality elements usually ringing in under $25. The only comparable design and jewelry combo experience I could think of is designer studio Maria Tash, where ear piercing costs hover around $20-$30, and jewelry starts around an eye-watering $90.

The main difference between the Studs store and its initial appearance as just a jewelry boutique is the space for customers at the back of the store, which starts to give off a hip doctor s office feel complete with small bowls of lollipops. The back corner bridges the gap between the store s purposeful design that Bubbers said balances a place you want to Instagram and feels clean and healthy space for getting a small medical procedure.

This is also where the shop s piercers meets customers for a brief consultation to make a final jewelry and placement pick, as well as fill out personal information and sign a waiver. I ate a lollipop and felt completely at ease while my artist personally held up the gold lightning bolt stud I picked to see what it would look like once we made it official.

The piercing room mixed the store s psychedelic elements with clean and sterile necessities, including sterilizing materials, small stress balls, and hair clips.

I don t get nervous about piercings, but my artist s calm walk-through of the process before we got started would have helped if I was feeling uneasy.

The actual piercing is the final step of the Studs experience, where the artist goes over the chosen jewelry and placement again before cleaning the ear. She told me how in the few weeks the shop has been open, she s seen equal amounts of first-timers and repeat piercing seekers, all of whom were put at ease by the atmosphere of the shop.

One deep breath later, the deed is done, and customers get a Studs-branded aftercare card to reinforce the piercing artist s directions to clean with water or saline solution and refrain from touching the piercing.

I walked away from the store with a fresh piercing that I loved, but also the urge to go back in and get several more. Though the boutique feels at home alongside other tiny and exhaustively decorated boutiques in the neighborhood, I left with the feeling that people seeking an ear-piercing anywhere in the country would jump at an appointment in the fresh and friendly space. Bubbers and Harman said they looked forward to the possibilities that lie in the light and easy-to-move nature of a piercing operation, including kiosks or pop-ups that bring the Studs experience beyond the disco spaceship on Prince Street.

With ear-piercing mainstay Claire s facing bankruptcy, widespread liquidation, and store closures, I couldn t believe that Studs was the first new take I had seen filling this hole.




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