Wednesday, June 08, 2005

This is what we do!

So this is how I spend my days! Everyone should have a job that is so much fun, so creative and so rewarding! I've had a couple of people ask to tell about how the shop was started, going into our 9th year now, I could have never planned for things to turn out so well! (Hi Sis!)... During an interview by a college business student, a few years ago, I was asked about our business plan. I asked what that was... ignorance is bliss, I could have never planned this out, it just took on a life of it's own. Had I known then, what I know now, I would be working night shift in a nursing home somewhere.
Once upon a time, quite awhile ago, William and I had just moved back from Hawaii and we settled in Silverton Oregon, 15 miles or so east of Salem. We were both working for the state as nurses, William was their star, fair haired boy, moving through the ranks and promoting at warp speed into the upper levels of management. In our spare time, we both loved coming to Salem and wandering the streets of downtown. We loved the unique shops, walking on sunny days from street to street to our next discovery. I have always loved being in the center of things and downtown is the pulse of the city.
We both love tattoos (William was the bad influence that got me addicted), and I have always had more than my fair share of piercings. He began to move upwards into management, he would soon be not just my boss, but my administrator. This was already beginning to cause problems for me at work. My manager would often disagree with William at management meetings and weird things would happen, like getting a "suicide" schedule... it just wasn't working. Now, I really did love my job. I had an amazing amount of autonomy and responsibility and I liked having the ability to make decisions (a rariety for nurses). We realized that soon, I would either need to find work elsewhere, or he would have to decline promotions. Neither sounded attractive.
I have always had a desire of self employment, but no means for such, but after getting my nose pierced, I thought that would not be a half bad way to replace some of my income and maybe be able to cut back to part-time work, maybe even quit my job altogether. I begin many things, most of them hairbrained and soon abandoned, and I really thought that my idea to pierce part time was just that. I had no idea how to pierce, but I had a medical background and a brain... I began to learn everything about piercing that I could. One day, while wandering downtown, we, on a lark, started looking at available space for a piercing studio. We soon discovered that most everyone wanted money for rent, there were licensing fees, expensive equipment to purchase, advertising and such. I needed money. In my quest for piercing knowledge, I had seen an advertisment in a tattoo magazine for a "make your own body jewelry kit" for somewhere around $50. Like a dork, I sent for it. I can make necklaces, how hard can it be to make earrings... I received the kit, bought a dremmel and set up a work bench in our living room and actually got the hang of making captive bead rings and barbells... very basic. In my fantasy world, I was building stock for my "someday business". Still, I had no money. Some of the jewelry was turning out pretty good, I began to experiment with different designs that made sense to me, but that I had not seen in stores (I swear I invended D rings and surface bars years ago). I began to sell my wears to a local body piercing studio, I could not believe they would buy my stuff!
I was nursing by day, bending steel by night and selling this stuff at every opportunity, saving every penny from jewelry sales. We found a small office (downtown of course) and I do mean small, about 200 square feet, oddly located, carpeted floors (yuck) and offered cheap piercings so I could "learn" what I did not already know about piercings. My training was very "old school" trial and error, and error and error... not the way I would recommend learning anything, but customers began to trickle in and faithfully told their friends and more came after that. A true testiment to the fact that people will let you do just about anything to them as long as you are "nice about it". I was only working part time and was actually replacing my lost income by "playing". Another piercer was helping me, we learned on each other and from each other. Many days we did nothing, some days we slept on the floor. I knew we were beginning to do good when we averaged one or two customers a day. I really knew we were doing good when I was fired from making jewelry for the "other guy" because I was now considered competition :)
I realize why so many businesses fail their first year... they were smarter than me... everyday, I just kept showing up and eventually it began to pay off, had I been smart, I'd have choosen something with regular customers and a cash flow. After completely quiting my job, customers began coming in regularily and I rarely slept at work anymore. The owner of the building I rented in had a large (1200 sq ft) space for lease for only a thousand dollars more per month than I was currently paying... what a deal, I jumped on it and we moved downstairs where people could actually find us. We had wayyyyy too much space, and needed to fill it. I began getting the word out that I needed to add a tattoo artist to generate income for paying the overhead and to fill up our new cavernous space and alas one came. Then two, three, and four... and more piercers and counter staff, and several very short years later we have one of the largest, best and most reputable studios in Oregon.... not bad for a nurse who had a hairbrained idea and a history of not following through...
I'll do just about anything to keep from having to work for a living!Posted by Hello

posted by addict @ 5:40 PM |

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