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What is a Body Piercing Business
It is estimated that 10% of adults in the UK have at least one body piercing (excluding earlobes), with these figures rising significantly for certain demographics (e.g. at least 50% of females aged 16-24 reported having a body piercing). Once you include the figures for earlobe piercings, the number of people in the UK with a piercing rises significantly and it is easy to see why a piercing business can be so lucrative.
A body piercing business is a business that provides body piercing services – they pierce a hole into the customer’s skin before inserting piercing jewellery, such as a ring, stud or bar. Although technically body piercing refers to holes pierced in parts of the body other than the ear, body piercing studios usually offer ear piercings as well.
People choose to get body piercings for multiple reasons, including for aesthetic and creative reasons (e.g. to decorate their bodies, for beauty or fashion and to express their creativity and sense of self), for cultural reasons (e.g. piercings are considered traditional or desirable in certain cultures) or for sensation reasons (e.g. to help relieve migraines or to improve sexual pleasure).
There are many different areas of the body that can be pierced, including:
- Ear piercings, e.g. earlobe, helix, daith, rook, tragus, conch and forward helix piercings.
- Nose piercings, e.g. nostril, septum, rhino and bridge piercings.
- Lip piercings.
- Tongue piercings.
- Naval piercings (belly button).
- Nipple piercings.
- Facial piercings, e.g. eyebrow, cheeks and eyelid piercings.
- Genital piercings.
- Nape and collarbone piercings.
- Hip piercings.
If you are considering starting up a body piercing business, there are multiple options available to you:
- Open a piercing studio or shop.
- Set up multiple piercing studios or shops in your area or on a national level.
- Hire a chair or station in an existing piercing studio or another similar business, such as a tattoo studio or jewellery shop, and work on a self-employed basis.
You may choose to operate as the sole piercer in your business or hire other piercers to work in your studio. The more body piercers you hire, the more customers you will be able to accept at one time. Once you have provided your clients with their chosen service, the customer will then pay for this service. Depending on the size and popularity of your studio, you may offer pre-booked appointments or walk-in appointments.
There are several tasks associated with running a body piercing business. Although your responsibilities can vary depending on the type of services you offer and whether you work in a customer-facing capacity, some of the typical daily tasks associated with this type of business are:
- Preparing parts of the body for piercing, including cleaning, sterilisation and marking the piercing area.
- Piercing various parts of the body using specialist equipment.
- Meeting with customers and talking them through the process.
- Cleaning and sterilising equipment and work areas.
- Informing customers of piercing aftercare and recommending any products for aftercare.
- Updating health records.
- Helping customers to select jewellery.
- Complying with legal requirements, e.g. checking identification and ensuring customers complete consent forms.
- Disposing of biohazardous waste (such as used needles) safely and correctly.
- Researching all products and equipment you use, storing them safely, ensuring they are used correctly and checking whether your customers have any allergies or sensitivities to any of the products before using them (e.g. a latex allergy).
- Pricing your services.
- Handling customer payments.
- Making appointments.
- Researching and keeping up to date with new piercing trends.
- Purchasing, cleaning and maintaining equipment and machinery.
- Managing inventory and ordering and replenishing stock and equipment.
- Keeping up to date on health and safety regulations and ensuring your business complies with all health and safety regulations and legal guidelines.
- Marketing and advertising.
- Completing business and administrative tasks.
If you are thinking of starting up a piercing business, you will require the relevant skills, experience and knowledge to help your business succeed. This includes a steady hand and good eyesight, piercing technical skills, the confidence to perform piercings and high levels of knowledge of pre- and post-piercing care, handling equipment safely and safety and hygiene standards. Strong interpersonal skills, good communication and patience are also recommended. With a solid business plan, a body piercing business can be financially and personally rewarding.
Types of Customers
When setting up your business, an important step is determining your typical customer base. Body piercings are stereotypically associated with certain types of people (e.g. younger people and people who have a particular type of aesthetic and form of self-expression). However, the reality is that people of all ages and demographics get piercings.
Defining your target market makes it easier to focus on the specific customers who are most likely to pay for your services and determine exactly where and how to market your business.
Some of the factors that can influence your typical customer base include:
The types of body piercings you offer
Depending on your training, knowledge and experience, you may offer all types of body piercings. However, some piercing businesses opt not to offer certain types of piercings that may be higher risk or may be more difficult to do (such as genital piercings). Some piercers also choose not to offer ear piercings to children, even if they are with their parents or guardians. The types of piercings you offer can, therefore, significantly affect your typical customer base.
The location you operate in
This is one of the most important factors in determining your typical customer base. People generally choose a piercer that is conveniently located near their home or place of work or study. Alternatively, piercing shops located in city centres and other areas with high footfall can capitalise on passing trade. Consider the typical people who frequent the location you operate in when determining the types of customers that are likely to choose your business.
Customers can typically be separated into three pricing categories, determined by how much money they are willing to spend on a body piercing:
- Budget customers: Price is the most important factor for this type of customer. They will likely choose the piercer that offers the lowest price, regardless of the services they offer.
- Mid-range customers: Mid-market customers are usually looking for a combination of quality and affordability. Although price is important to them, it won’t be the only factor they consider. They will likely have a budget in mind but will still look at factors such as your facilities and equipment, your customer reviews and the piercing jewellery you offer.
- High-end customers: This type of customer is willing to pay higher prices for the best possible service and the best equipment and facilities. They will likely look for a piercing studio that has superior facilities and equipment, offers the highest quality and most attractive jewellery and has an excellent reputation and strong branding.
Your qualifications, experience and level of expertise
The more highly qualified and experienced you are, the more money you are able to charge. These factors can also impact the types of customers you attract.
Your branding, marketing and advertising
How you opt to advertise and market your business can impact the potential clients you reach. Your business name and logo, the aesthetic and design of your business and the design of your website or physical location can also impact your typical clients.
Your reputation and customer reviews
This is another important factor that many people will look at. They may look at your customer reviews or choose a body piercer based on recommendations.
Your reputation and reviews will likely be based on multiple factors, such as:
- The quality of your service.
- How you interacted and communicated with customers.
- Your pricing.
- How well the piercings healed.
Equipment You Will Need
Equipment is an essential purchase, as without it you will not be able to run your business. The type and amount of equipment you require will depend on the type of body piercing business you set up and the size of your business. You will need to purchase the equipment before your business begins operating and make regular equipment purchases, as many of your essential items will need to be replenished regularly.
Below is a list of equipment typically required by a body piercing business.
The easiest and safest way to secure the skin in place and ensure it is stabilised before piercing it is to use forceps and clamps. There are many different types of forceps, available in different shapes and sizes, with different types of forceps being used for different body parts. If you want to offer piercings on different parts of the body, you will need a complete set of forceps of different shapes and sizes. Ensure the forceps you purchase are made from stainless steel, as these are easier to clean and sterilise.
Needles are an essential purchase, as without them you will not be able to offer piercings. You will need hollow needles of different sizes.
You can opt for:
- Cannula needles
- Blade needles
- Hypodermic piercing needles
Because you will be piercing different parts of the body, you will need to purchase needles ranging from 4 gauge to 22 gauge (the most popular size is between 14 and 18 gauge). Because each needle can only be used once, you will need to order needles in bulk and regularly replenish your order.
A receiving tube is a protective tube that is placed on the back of the skin that is being pierced to ensure the needle is in the correct place. It helps to guide the needle in the correct direction and prevent it from stabbing into another part of the skin (for example when doing a nose piercing). The tube generates counter-pressure when you are piercing the skin, helping to prevent injuries to the surrounding tissue. Receiving tubes are available in different sizes and diameters.
If you are performing dermal piercings (a single-point piercing that doesn’t have an exit point and where the jewellery is anchored under a layer of skin), you will need to purchase high-quality dermal punches. Dermal punches allow for greater accuracy when performing a dermal piercing. They can also be used to pierce ears in a larger gauge size (to avoid a long stretching process).
Specialised skin markers
A specialised, sterile skin marker is used to mark the location of the piercing. You could use sterile surgical markers that are filled with skin marking ink that allows you to precisely mark the area you plan to pierce. You can then confirm your customer is happy with the placement before performing the piercing.
An autoclave is the most common method of sterilisation in piercing studios. It uses high temperatures and pressure steam to kill microorganisms, pathogens and bacteria and sterilise non-disposable equipment. Autoclaves prevent the transfer of infection from one customer to another. You will need to sterilise all reusable tools and equipment, including forceps and receiving tubes. Many piercers also choose to sterilise the jewellery and latex gloves. When purchasing your autoclave, you will also need pouches to put your equipment in while it is being autoclaved.
Once you have pierced the skin or cartilage, you will need to put the jewellery into the pierced space. You will need a wide range of piercing jewellery for different parts of the body and in different shapes, sizes, thicknesses, metals, colours and designs.
You will also need to offer different types of piercing jewellery, such as studs, rings and bars with different fastenings e.g.:
- Ball closure rings.
- Straight barbells.
- Curved barbells.
- Circular barbells.
- Internally threaded jewellery.
- Heavy gauge jewellery (spacers).
- Dermal anchors.
Latex gloves are essential when working in a piercing studio. Regardless of how thoroughly you wash or sanitise your hands, you should not be performing piercings without using latex gloves. Your latex gloves should be sterilised before use and disposed of after one use. Because the gloves are single-use only, you will need a continuous supply.
Alcohol wipes can be used to prep the skin prior to a piercing. They can clean and sterilise the skin and remove any bacteria, germs or dirt that could compromise the piercing. You will need to order alcohol wipes in bulk as they are not reusable.
Instrument trays are specially designed trays that are used for storing the necessary equipment for each piercing. They are usually designed with ridges down the centre for needle placement and with indented feet so that the tray is stable, and the needles do not move around.
Sharps disposal containers
You need to dispose of used needles safely. Because they have pierced skin, used needles can pose a significant threat to the health and safety of anyone who comes into contact with them. To ensure the hazard is minimised, you will need a sharps container that has a closed lid and a biohazard label warning of the risk. Every piercing station should have its own sharps disposal container so that piercers do not need to walk around your studio with needles.
Medical waste bins
A medical waste bin should be used to dispose of non-sharp waste that could potentially be a biohazard. This could include used latex gloves, antiseptic wipes and used cotton pads. Every piercing station should have its own medical waste bin.
Some piercing studios choose to provide aftercare instructions verbally, whereas others prefer to give written instructions that customers can take home with them. Customers are more likely to follow written instructions, making it more likely that their piercing will heal effectively. Ensure your instructions are clear and easy to follow.
A first aid kit
You will need a fully stocked first aid kit on your premises at all times.
Some items you should include in your first aid kit are:
- Gauze dressings.
- Surgical tape or sticky tape.
- Antiseptic cream.
- Distilled water.
- A thermometer.
You will need to furnish your piercing studio with all the appropriate furnishings and equipment to allow you to run your business. Your furnishings should be clean, in good working order and in fitting with your business’s aesthetic.
Some of the furniture you may require includes:
- Sinks with clean, running water.
- Magnifying lamps with attached lights.
- Piercing beds and chairs (for customers to sit or lie on).
- Single-use cover sheets for the chairs and beds.
- Stools or chairs for the piercer.
Your piercing studio will likely have a reception area where you will take customer payments and make appointments.
For your reception area, you will likely need:
- A reception desk and chair.
- A laptop or computer.
- A telephone.
- An appointment book or scheduling software on your computer.
- A cash register and Point of Sale (POS) system.
- Pricing signs and opening hours signs.
- Shelving for displaying products (e.g. piercing aftercare products).
- Magazine racks.
Couches or chairs
If you have the space, you may want to have a waiting area for any clients that arrive early or in the event your appointments overrun. You could use couches or chairs in your waiting area. Couches or chairs are particularly beneficial to piercing studios that offer walk-in appointments, as it gives the customers somewhere to wait until the piercer is available.
This sink should be used specifically for cleaning and disinfecting equipment and piercing instruments and should not be used for handwashing. You must ensure the sink has both hot and cold running water.
You will need separate handwashing facilities and cannot use the same sink for handwashing and cleaning equipment. Your handwashing sink should feature both hot and cold running water and appropriate handwashing equipment. A handwashing sink helps to encourage good hygiene practices in your business.
Pricing list and pictures
You will need a list of the different piercings you offer and the individual pricing. You may also choose to include a picture of each piercing (particularly different parts of the ear as your customers may not be familiar with the names). If the pricing for a particular piercing varies depending on the jewellery chosen, this should be clear on your pricing list.
Good hygiene practices are important in a piercing shop. You will be required to sanitise your equipment and workstations between each customer. Cleaning your tools regularly with a disinfectant spray can help to remove bacteria and keep your business running hygienically.
Maintaining a high level of cleanliness is essential for your piercing studio business. You will need to wipe down chairs, equipment and surfaces between each client and ensure your shop is clean at all times. Some cleaning equipment you may need includes a sweeping brush or vacuum cleaner, a mop, disinfectant, cloths, sponges and cleaning products.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE can be helpful in protecting both you and your customers. PPE can protect you from bacteria and infections, from any chemicals you use in your shop and from any potentially dangerous equipment. Some PPE you may utilise includes masks and aprons.
A CCTV system
A CCTV system is necessary for protecting your shop from theft and burglaries. It can also help to protect you in the event of a threatening customer or an allegation against your business. You can choose the specification of your CCTV equipment and the number of cameras you require.
A website is useful for advertising your business and could act as your primary advertising strategy. Your website should list the types of services you offer, descriptions and photographs of your previous work, your location and your contact information. Design your website to include your business logo and to reflect your branding.
Business cards and appointment cards
Business cards can be used for advertisement purposes and handed out to customers and potential customers. The business cards should include your business name and logo, the services you offer, your location and your contact information. Your appointment cards should be designed in a similar way to your business cards but should feature a space for you to write the date and time of the appointment and the name of the piercer.
When you are planning your body piercing business, you will need to calculate the approximate costs associated with setting up and running this type of business. Calculating your typical costs allows you to estimate your initial investment requirements, any monthly and annual costs, your pricing strategy, your profit goals and your acceptable profit margins.
There are multiple costs associated with setting up and running a body piercing business. Some of these costs will be one-off initial costs that you will need to pay when you are setting up your business. Other costs will be ongoing costs you will need to pay regularly – usually weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually.
The typical costs associated with a body piercing business can vary, depending on the type of business you run and the size of your business.
The typical costs you can expect include:
If you operate your business from a studio or shop, your premises will likely be your biggest expenditure. You will need to rent your premises on a monthly or annual basis. Rental prices can vary significantly, depending on the location and the size of the premises. City centres or busy locations usually have the highest rental costs. Rental costs are often calculated per square metre. They can range significantly, from £500 to £15,000 per square metre annually. Your rental costs may also be higher if you are renting an already established studio.
Refurbishment and installation costs
Unless your premises previously operated as a piercing studio, you will need to refurbish or convert your venue to install the equipment you need for your business and to make your premises fit for purpose. Refurbishment costs could include reconfiguring the space (e.g. to create separate rooms or areas), installing your equipment and installing water or electricity facilities. Your studio should be attractive to your customers, easy to clean and in line with your brand. Renovation costs can vary, from £500 to £30,000 depending on the level and scale of work required.
Your equipment is an important purchase, as without it you will not be able to run your business. The cost of equipment can vary based on how large your shop is and how much equipment you require. The bigger your premises is and the more customers you want to accommodate at one time, the more equipment you will require. You may choose to purchase less equipment initially and expand your equipment as your business grows. Equipment for your body piercing business can cost between £3,000 and £30,000.
Replenishing equipment and stock
Much of the equipment that you use, such as the needles, latex gloves and disposable cleaning materials, can only be used once, meaning these will need to be replenished regularly. You will also need to make sure you make regular purchases of piercing jewellery. You will likely need to make monthly orders to replenish your equipment.
Maintaining, repairing and replacing equipment
Repairs, maintenance and replacements are ongoing costs you will need to factor into your budget. Although some of your equipment and machinery will come with warranties, repairs and replacements are inevitable. Cleaning and maintaining equipment and ensuring it is used correctly can extend its life, but potential repairs and replacements should still be factored into your budget.
These are the day-to-day costs associated with running your business. Some running costs are paid monthly, and others are paid quarterly or annually. Your running costs can include electricity, gas, water, council tax and insurance. To maximise your profits, try to keep your running costs as low as possible.
If your hire other piercers to work in your shop, you will need to factor their pay into your budget. If you hire them on a permanent basis, you will need to pay them at least the national minimum wage and account for other expenses such as holiday pay, sick pay and maternity/paternity pay. However, if you hire them on a self-employed basis, they may pay you a fee to rent the space in your shop or pay you a percentage of their earnings.
Branding is an essential expenditure for your business. It can help you to establish your business’s identity and set you apart from your competition. Branding could include creating your business’s visual identity and designing your premises, creating a logo and business name, and creating your business website. You can hire a professional to help you with branding or do some of the work yourself. Branding can cost between £500 and £10,000, depending on the amount of branding you require.
Advertising and marketing
To ensure your body piercing business attracts customers and creates maximum profits, you will need to invest in advertising and marketing. It is recommended that you spend between 1%-3% of your annual turnover on marketing. For example, if your annual turnover (or your desired annual turnover) is £60,000, you should spend between £600 and £1,800 on advertising and marketing. You may need to invest more money when you initially set up your business or when you are trying to grow your business.
There are multiple coverage options available for a piercing business. Some types of coverage are optional, whereas others are mandatory.
Your coverage options include:
- Public Liability Insurance.
- Employers’ Liability Insurance.
- Legal Expenses Cover.
- Tools and Equipment Cover.
- Professional Indemnity Cover.
- Building and Contents Cover.
- Personal Accident Insurance.
- Cyber Liability Insurance.
- Financial Loss Cover.
Insurance prices can vary depending on the level of coverage you choose and your insurance provider. Prices typically start from £10 a month for a basic level of insurance.
Typical Costs for Customers
Once you have calculated the expected costs associated with setting up and running your body piercing business, you can then determine your pricing.
Your pricing strategy will depend on multiple factors, such as:
- The location of the piercing.
- The jewellery the customer chooses.
- The equipment required.
- Your location.
- Your experience and reputation.
- Your popularity and the demand for your services.
- How long the piercing will take.
Different types of piercings will be priced differently, with some piercings being significantly more expensive than others. Piercing costs typically range from £20 to £60 per piercing.
Safely Running a Body Piercing Business
Safe practices in your body piercing business can help to protect the health, safety and well-being of you, your employees and your customers. Body piercing can be a high-risk business with the potential for injury, unsafe practices or even the transmission of infections or diseases.
Ensuring safe practices is therefore essential. Some ways you can safely run your body piercing business include:
Protect against diseases and infections
As you will be dealing with blood, which is a potential biohazard, it is essential that you protect yourself and your customers from potentially dangerous pathogens and diseases that can be transferred through blood and other bodily fluids. This includes discarding needles after every customer and sterilising all piercing equipment thoroughly.
Ensure all employees are vaccinated against Hepatitis B
It is recommended that all employees should receive a vaccination for Hepatitis B. Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act, employers must pay for protective measures (including vaccinations) if they are required. If there is a chance your employees could be exposed to blood, bodily fluids or tissues, a Hepatitis B vaccination is strongly recommended.
Do not open needle packaging unnecessarily
To ensure that needles remain sterile, the packaging should not be opened until you are about to perform a piercing. If the packaging is opened prematurely or you suspect that the packaging is not secure or has been compromised, the needle should be deemed unsafe to use and should be disposed of appropriately.
Check for allergies or health problems
Before you begin a procedure, you must check with the customer whether they have any allergies or health problems. For example, a customer may have a latex allergy that prevents you from wearing latex gloves or they may have a blood-borne disease, such as HIV or hepatitis that can affect healing, meaning they may require different aftercare. Checking with every customer whether they have an allergy or health condition you should be aware of and making it clear that your piercing studio is inclusive and accepting can help you to run your business more safely.
Educate clients in proper piercing aftercare
Ensuring proper piercing aftercare is a great way of ensuring the health and safety of your customers. You should provide every customer with aftercare instructions, including how to clean the piercing, how to prevent infection, any activities they should avoid and how to encourage healing. You could also inform your customers of potential signs of infection and what to do if they suspect their piercing is infected.
Ensure furnishings and flooring is easy to clean
All furnishings and flooring should be made of a wipe-clean material. Ensuring they are resistant to liquid, such as bodily fluid, can make them much easier to clean and result in better hygienic practices. You should also cover any beds and chairs with a disposable covering that is changed between clients.
Implement cleaning policies and procedures
Strict cleaning procedures must be in place in your piercing business. This includes cleaning, disinfecting and sanitising all equipment and surfaces and employing ultrasonication cleaning techniques. You should clean between every customer and then perform an intensive clean at regular intervals, such as every day. If you hire any other piercers or other members of staff, you must also ensure they are following your cleaning procedures.
Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE can help to protect you from being exposed to bodily fluids, can protect you and your employees from potentially dangerous equipment and can prevent cross-contamination, ensuring piercings are done more hygienically. Some of the PPE you may require includes gloves, protective aprons and face masks.
Employ an air-filtration system
A good filtration system can reduce the number of airborne microorganisms and germs in your studio. It can reduce the spread of infection and keep your piercing studio safe. Fresh air should be able to circulate, either via open windows and doors or artificial ventilation (e.g. an extractor or ventilation unit).
Appoint trained first-aiders
All piercing businesses must have an appointed first-aider on the premises at all times. In the event of an accident or injury, you will then be able to administer the necessary first aid. Although a first aid qualification or certificate is not legally required, it is the easiest way to demonstrate your first aid training. You should also ensure your business has a fully stocked first aid kit on site that is accessible to all employees.
Keep dangerous objects away from customers
This includes piercing equipment, needles and cleaning products. Any potentially dangerous objects should be kept out of the reach of customers, and where possible in separate rooms. It is also important to make sure that sharp objects, such as needles, are stored correctly and cannot fall or cause accidental injury to any staff or customers.
Implement security measures
Safety measures can help to protect your business, your employees, your customers and your equipment.
Some safety measures you should implement include:
- Install a CCTV system.
- Install an alarm system and secure and reliable locks.
Carry out risk assessments
Risk assessments are a legal requirement for businesses with more than five employees. However, even if your business has fewer than five employees, risk assessments are still recommended to ensure the safety of you, your staff and your customers. Risk assessments can help you to identify any potential hazards and risks in your business and how these can be reduced or eliminated.
As part of your risk assessment, you should:
- Identify hazards.
- Determine who could be at risk.
- Evaluate any potential risks.
- Implement relevant safety measures.
- Record the results of the risk assessment.
- Review the risk assessment regularly.
Complete training courses
Health and safety training courses can help your business follow safe practices at all times.
Some training courses you could opt for include:
- RIDDOR Awareness.
- Fire Safety Awareness.
- Assessing Risk.
- First Aid.
- Work Place Health and Safety.
Complying with legal requirements is essential when setting up and running a body piercing business.
Failure to comply with legal requirements could not only result in an accident or injury, but you could also face consequences such as a warning, a fine, the forced closure of your business or, in serious circumstances, prosecution.
Some of the legal guidelines you should be aware of include:
Apply for a skin piercing licence
To work as a body piercer, you will need to apply for a tattoos, piercing and electrolysis licence with your local authority. When applying for your licence, you will need to provide details about yourself and your premises and pay the registration fee. It can take up to 28 days for your application to be processed so make sure you apply before your business begins operating. Your licence only allows you to perform piercings on the premises where you are licensed. If you change premises, you must inform your local authority. A copy of your licence must be clearly and prominently displayed in a prominent area on your premises.
Comply with the Department of Health guidance
The Department of Health produced guidelines that all piercing businesses must follow. If you receive an inspection from your local authority, they will check your compliance with these guidelines.
The guidance includes:
- Piercing equipment should either be disposable or sterilised after each use.
- All jewellery should be sterile.
- Body fluids (such as blood) must be cleaned up and couches, furniture and equipment should be disinfected after each use.
Comply with legal age requirements
Although there is no legal age of consent for body piercings in the UK, there is a legal age of consent for intimate piercings – genital piercings and nipple piercings (for females). The legal age of consent can change, depending on where in the UK your business is located.
- England: 16 years old.
- Wales: 18 years old.
- Scotland: 18 years old.
- Northern Ireland: 17 years old.
If you perform an intimate piercing on someone below the legal age, this can be considered indecent assault. To ensure you comply with legislation, it is recommended that you check photographic identification before performing intimate piercings. Depending on where in the UK your business is located, you may need to obtain parental consent before performing any type of body piercing on someone under the age of 16. It is recommended that you contact your local authority for more information.
Comply with premises safety regulations
To ensure your premises is safe and fit for purpose, there are several safety guidelines you should comply with:
- Work surfaces, floors, seats and lower walls should be smooth and resistant to liquid. Surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected between clients.
- Floors should be slip-resistant.
- You will need a suitable operating bench, couch or reclinable chair with wipeable surfaces. Benches, couches and chairs will need to be covered for each client (e.g. with a paper roller towel system).
- You will need a sink with hot and cold running water and appropriate handwashing and drying equipment (e.g. soap and paper towels).
- You will need a separate sink with hot and cold running water for washing equipment and instruments.
- You must ensure lighting levels are appropriate.
Ensure you disinfect, clean and sterilise equipment and your premises appropriately
This is an essential consideration when running your piercing business. Your cleaning, disinfecting and sterilising methods will likely be inspected if you receive a visit from your local authority.
Some guidelines you should adhere to include:
- Choose all cleaning products with care and ensure you are using appropriate cleaning products for the task.
- Piercing equipment and instruments must be thoroughly sterilised before use (e.g. using an autoclave).
- Thoroughly wash and dry hands, cover any cuts or grazes and then wear gloves (preferably latex gloves) before performing a piercing. Gloves should be changed between each customer.
- Work surfaces and furniture should be cleaned and disinfected between clients.
- Ensure your premises undergoes regular cleaning.
Apply for a waste carrier registration
Some of your business’s waste will be classified as clinical or hazardous waste. This includes needles, materials containing blood or other bodily fluids and disposable gloves. If your business transports waste or arranges for someone else to dispose of waste, you will need to apply for a waste carrier registration.
You can apply for your registration with the following governing bodies:
- England: The Environment Agency.
- Wales: Natural Resources.
- Scotland: The Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
- Northern Ireland: The Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
Comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations
COSHH regulations specify that you must control any potentially hazardous substances. You must appropriately assess, control and reduce any risks or potential hazards and protect people from harm. COSHH can apply to hazards that could occur because of exposure to blood and other bodily fluids. Under COSHH, you must assess the risks from exposure to blood-borne viruses (BBVs) and put control measures into place to prevent and control exposure to BBVs and minimise the risks.
Comply with the Consumer Rights Act 2015
The Consumer Rights Act is designed to protect customers from substandard work and overpriced services. It covers the selling, terms and conditions and supply of services (including
Under this Act, your customers have the right to:
- Request that substandard work is redone or receive a price reduction.
- Challenge unfair small-print terms, conditions and costs.
Comply with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013
RIDDOR states that you must report all injuries, diseases and dangerous events that occur in your business. Reports must be made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) using an appropriate recording document. As injuries may be more likely in a high-risk business, appropriate recording can help you to recognise any mistakes or patterns and prevent future injuries.
Comply with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
PUWER regulations apply to you and any employees you hire. You must ensure any equipment (including piercing equipment and furniture) is fit for purpose and is maintained and inspected regularly. You must also ensure that health and safety risks are minimised to an acceptable level, that you have the correct knowledge and training to use the equipment, and that protective measures are put into place. You must also ensure the equipment is used under appropriate conditions.
Prepare a health and safety policy
The law states that every business in the UK must have a specific policy for managing health and safety. Your policy should state exactly how you will manage health and safety in your business, who is responsible for specific tasks and how and when these tasks are completed.
Comply with the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (1992)
Under these regulations, if your business has five or more employees you must ensure you conduct appropriate risk assessments, minimise any risks and maintain all equipment. You must also make sure high levels of cleanliness are maintained.
Appoint a competent person
A competent person should be appointed to help your business meet your health and safety legal duties. You can act in this role yourself or appoint another person to fulfil this role. The competent person should have the skills, knowledge and experience to identify any hazards in your business and put controls in place to protect people from harm.
Comply with fire regulations
You must ensure fire safety measures are implemented in your piercing studio. There are multiple fire regulations you must ensure you comply with.
- Perform a fire risk assessment.
- Comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
- Implement any necessary fire safety measures.
- Implement emergency procedures and ensure these are clearly displayed on your premises.
Comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations (1989)
The Electricity at Work Regulations state that any workplaces that use electricals must construct electrical systems in a way that prevents danger, maintain electrical systems to ensure they are safe, ensure electrical equipment is checked by a competent person annually and conduct Portable Appliance Tests (PAT). You must ensure that any electrical equipment and electrical systems in your piercing studio comply with this legislation.
Comply with employment legislation
If you hire any employees to work in your piercing studio, you must ensure you follow employment legislation, including the Employment Rights Act (1996) and the National Minimum Wage Act (1998). You must also comply with legislation relating to recruitment, working hours, sickness, discrimination, dismissals, and maternity or paternity pay.
Comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA)
You must comply with both pieces of legislation when storing or sharing personal information, such as your customers’ personal information, contact details and banking information. You must also apply for a Notification to Process Personal Data Licence. If you process or store personal information such as personal details and banking information, you will need to apply for a licence with the Information Commissioner’s Office and renew your registration every year.
Apply for a music licence
If you play music in your piercing studio, you will need to apply for a licence with Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) and/or a Performing Right Society (PRS) Licence. You can apply for both a PPL and a PRS online.
Appoint a first-aider
All workplaces in the UK must have an appointed first-aider. In the event of an accident or injury, you will then be able to administer the necessary first aid. Although a first aid qualification or certificate is not legally required, it is the easiest way to demonstrate your first aid training.
Register your business
You must register your business with HMRC before you begin operating. You can register as a sole trader or as a limited company. You will need to register your business name and any other relevant information.
Register for self-assessment tax
This allows you to calculate and pay your own taxes each year. You will need to track your finances every month and submit any expenses as part of your tax assessment.
As part of your tax responsibilities, you must:
- Record all forms of income and expenses.
- Complete an annual self-assessment tax return.
- Register for VAT if you earn above the threshold (currently £85,000).
- Pay National Insurance contributions.
- Keep a record of your business accounts for the previous five years.
Positives of Owning a Body Piercing Business
Starting up a body piercing business can be rewarding in many ways.
Some of the main pros associated with this type of business include:
Be part of a great community
The tattoo and body piercing community is very close-knit and can be a great community to be part of. People within this community are often creative and have strong self-expression. They also frequently inspire each other with new techniques and styles. Working in this industry allows you to create connections with other body piercers and people who enjoy getting piercings and tattoos.
Do something you are passionate about
If you choose to work in the piercing industry, you are likely very passionate about piercings, creativity and self-expression. Many piercers have multiple body piercings themselves or admire people who get body piercings. Earning money while doing what you love can make your business feel less like work and more like a vocation.
You can offer a personalised customer experience
You can offer customer consultations where you discuss what your customer wants and offer advice and insight. Your customer will receive a personalised experience and tailored advice, resulting in a happier customer who is more likely to recommend your business to others.
A growing industry
The body piercing industry is consistently growing, with more and more people opting for a piercing. Indeed, approximately 50% of females aged 16-24 have at least one body piercing, compared to 10% of people in the general population. This means there is a strong demand for body piercing businesses, making now a great time to establish yourself in the industry. A growing market also makes it easier to grow your business and maximise your profits.
Gaining exposure as a body piercer is relatively easy, especially with the rise of social media. You can post your piercings online and utilise platforms such as Instagram and TikTok to reach more people. Your customers may also tag your business in photos of their new piercings that they post online. Attending piercing and tattoo conventions is another great way to gain exposure.
Make people feel good about themselves
Many people get piercings for aesthetic reasons, to make themselves feel good or to express themselves. A piercing can make someone feel empowered, more self-assured and confident and in control of their bodies. Seeing your customers’ reactions when they see their new piercing can be very rewarding.
You don’t need to immediately set up your business by opening your own piercing shop. Instead, you can start small, for example, by hiring a station in an already established studio. Once you have established a client base and created some capital, you could then expand your business and increase your profits. Starting small can reduce your start-up costs.
A body piercing business has high scalability, meaning it has the opportunity and capacity to expand and grow easily. Once your original business plan succeeds, it is easy to grow your business, for example, by opening additional piercing shops. You will already have positive business relationships with your suppliers, a solid customer base and an already proven successful business plan. You can utilise these to grow your business with minimal stress.
Design your working environment
As the business owner, you can design the aesthetic of your business, choose the furniture and equipment, select your employees, choose the services you offer and even choose the music you play. You can design your perfect work environment that is positive, relaxing and enjoyable.
Low entry barriers
Setting up a body piercing business doesn’t require any specific qualifications or training. Instead, all you will need is the relevant knowledge, skills and experience. This makes it easier (and quicker) for you to set up your business, particularly compared to other industries that require months or years of specific training and expensive formal qualifications.
Customer retention and recommendations
People are often loyal to their favourite piercing business and will likely return to you again. You will likely have regular customers who may also recommend you to their family, friends or to people on social media. High customer retention and customer recommendations can help to ensure the success of your business.
High income potential
The more experience and exposure you gain, the higher prices you will be able to charge. As your business grows and you develop a good reputation, you will likely see your customer base and your profits grow. A body piercing business can have a high income potential and your profit margins are likely to be high. With a good business plan and strategy for growth, your business could have unlimited income potential.
A positive work environment
A body piercing shop can be a great place to work. You can work in a face-to-face capacity, helping your customers and connecting with them every day. You will also be spending extended periods of time with your employees and can choose to hire employees you think would be the best fit for your business. You will have the opportunity to build positive relationships and create a positive work environment.
As a body piercer, you won’t be sitting around staring at a computer screen all day. You’ll be active for a lot of the day, involved in different tasks, running your piercing business and talking to customers. This is great for people who don’t want a traditional office job.
Every day is different
Running a body piercing business will never get boring. Every day will be different and will present new challenges and different activities. You will be working with different customers, working on different types of piercings, managing staff every day and taking responsibility for different tasks. A varied workday helps to keep your job interesting.
Be your own boss
There are multiple ways you can grow your business and increase your profits. You can hire more employees, take on more clients, expand your business or even open additional premises. You can make the best decisions for you and your business.
Negatives of Owning a Body Piercing Business
Although owning a body piercing business can be rewarding in many ways, there are some potentially negative aspects to this type of business that you should be aware of.
Building your clientele can be difficult
Successful piercing studios often spend years building up their client base. This could mean you initially receive less custom and earn a lower income. If you have invested a lot of money into your business and can’t initially make a profit, this could result in your business failing.
Your income can be inconsistent
Particularly in your first few years of operation, your business can have periods with less custom and you can experience a drop in your profits. The instability that can exist in this type of industry can have a detrimental impact on your finances, especially if you have consistent outgoings, such as rent and overhead costs to pay.
You may think you’ll get to sit down for a lot of the day but don’t underestimate the physical strain on your fingers, hands and wrists. You will need to keep the piercing equipment completely steady at all times to ensure you don’t make any mistakes and this can cause a lot of strain and even result in pain or injury, particularly if you are performing a lot of piercings each day. You may also experience neck and back pain or strain from leaning forward so much.
A lot of skill, knowledge and experience is required
To operate as a body piercer and run a successful piercing business, you will need to be highly proficient in a variety of skills and will need to have the relevant technical knowledge and strong piercing skills. Previous experience working as a body piercer is essential. It can be time-consuming to gain the appropriate skills and experience.
The possibility of making a mistake
No matter how skilled a piercer you are, mistakes can always happen. Whether the mistake is through your error, the customer moving or something out of your control, mistakes can result in an injury to your customer or a disfigurement to their skin. Mistakes can also result in negative reviews which can have a negative impact on your business.
You will be working with sharp and potentially dangerous instruments, including needles. A body piercing business has many potential risks that could result in liability issues for you and your business. This could include employee accidents or injuries, the risks associated with using certain products and equipment, incorrect piercings or mistakes and the risks of causing injury to your clients. Not only can this be stressful, but it can also be detrimental to your business.
Complying with legislation
There are many different pieces of legislation and legal guidelines you will need to comply with. Not only can this be complicated and time-consuming, but any non-compliance (even if this is accidental) can be punished with a fine or the forced closure of your business. Some types of legislation also require you to go through specific training and/or gain a qualification, which can be costly and arduous. A body piercing business can have high liability which can be a lot of stress and pressure on a business owner.
High time commitment
Piercing businesses are often more popular in the evening and on weekends. This could result in you working unsociable hours. You also need to factor in the time you will need to spend on administrative duties, ordering equipment, cleaning and advertising and marketing. Running your body piercing business can be time-consuming.
Potentially high start-up costs
Depending on the type of body piercing business you choose to set up, it may require a high investment. The cost of your premises, refurbishment and installation costs and your equipment and staffing costs can be extremely expensive, meaning you will require a large amount of capital to set up your business. Not only does this mean you may need to source outside investment, but it also makes your business high risk. Having a large initial investment also means it will take longer before you begin turning a profit.
The piercing industry can be inconsistent, with business varying at different times of the year. There could be times when you experience increased business and other times of the year when business is slower, and you receive fewer customers. This can make it difficult to predict your profits, make the correct stock orders and plan your staffing requirements.
It can be stressful
Not only is there a lot of pressure to make every customer happy, but as the business owner, you will face the additional pressure of being responsible for your business’s success. You will have a lot of important responsibilities, such as ensuring health and safety, marketing and advertising, ordering stock, handling deliveries and dealing with customers. Handling all of these responsibilities can be stressful.
Although the majority of customers leave honest reviews, some customers are difficult to please and will leave a negative review because of the smallest complaint (even if it is something outside of your control, such as your piercers having no availability). Sometimes a fake customer also leaves a fake review, which can be extremely difficult to disprove and remove. Negative reviews can be extremely damaging to your business, particularly if your business is new or you’ve had relatively few reviews.
Motivation of employees
Your body piercing business may require you to hire employees. Although employees can be advantageous to your business, they can also be harmful. If you employ staff who are unmotivated, disinterested or have a negative attitude, this can create a negative experience for your customers which can result in bad reviews or the loss of custom.
Every town and city in the UK has established piercing shops and tattoo studios that also offer body piercings. It can be difficult for your business to succeed in a competitive industry.
Your business could fail
Starting up your own business can be risky. Many new businesses fail which could result in you losing money or getting into debt. Your business could fail for several reasons, such as high local competition, an ineffective business plan or if the UK encounters another recession or a period of financial difficulty. If you have invested a lot of money and time into your business, this can be extremely disheartening and can result in you losing a lot of money.
As you are self-employed, you won’t receive benefits such as pension contributions. You will also be responsible for doing your own taxes and organising your National Insurance contributions. You will also have a lack of job security.
Planning Your Body Piercing Business
If you are considering starting up a body piercing business, an effective and well-designed business plan is essential. A business plan can help you to focus on the specific steps that will help your business succeed, plan your short-term and long-term goals, determine your financial needs and help your business to grow.
Your business plan should contain information such as:
- Your company information.
- Your company description.
- The services you will provide.
- Your branding, marketing and advertising plan.
- The structure of your business.
- The operational plan for your business.
- The financial plan for your business.
When creating your business plan, some factors you will need to take into consideration include:
The type of body piercing business you will set up
Deciding what type of body piercing business you are going to set up is an important step when creating your business plan. Are you going to set up your own piercing studio or shop or will you work on a self-employed basis in an already established shop? The type of body piercing business you set up will impact your start-up costs and running costs, your typical customer base and your premises and staffing requirements. Consider your available capital and the market demand when making this decision. You may choose to set up one type of business initially and then change as your business grows.
The piercings you will offer
Depending on your skill, experience and confidence, you may choose to offer all types of body piercings. Alternatively, you could choose to exclude some piercings, such as genital piercings. It could also be that you focus on a particular piercing speciality and although you also offer other types of piercings, you primarily focus on one type of piercing (e.g. children’s ear piercings). Keep in mind that different piercings will have different price points and will require different skills.
Your business location
Your location will have a significant impact on the types of customers you are likely to attract. It will also impact your premises’ rental costs. If your business is located in a place popular with your target market or is easily accessible to customers, the increased custom and higher profits will be extremely beneficial to your business. Consider your rental budget and your size requirements when choosing your premises.
Your staffing requirements
Your staffing is another important consideration you will need to make. If you work on a self-employed basis in an existing business, you may be the sole piercer, whereas if you open business premises, you will likely need to hire employees. When hiring your staff, consider their qualifications and experience. Keep in mind that your staffing requirements could change as your business grows and evolves.
Your target market
Determining your target market is a key step in helping your business succeed. Different types of piercing businesses will attract different customers. Some other factors that can influence your target market are your premises and equipment (and particularly the design and aesthetic of your shop and your business brand), your qualifications and experience, your location, your reputation and your pricing strategy. Once you have identified your target market, you can then focus on how to attract these customers to your business.
Your local competition
Being aware of your competition is an important step to ensuring the success of your business. Analysing your competition allows you to look at what they do well and what you think can be improved upon. Look at your competitors’ facilities and equipment, the services they offer, their pricing, their target market and the number of employees they have. Analysing your competition also identifies whether there is space in the market for your business.
Your brand and your unique selling point (USP)
Creating your brand is a key way to ensure you stand out from your competition. Branding can help you to focus your target audience, attract customers and concentrate your marketing and advertising strategies. Some ways you can create your brand are by focusing on your business’s visual identity, designing your premises and creating a brand story. Your USP can also be part of your brand and can help your business stand out from your competitors. Consider what makes your business special and how this fits into what defines your business.
Your marketing and advertising strategies
Marketing and advertising are especially important when you first open your body piercing business. Your marketing strategy needs to be effective and budget friendly. Consider your target customers and the best way to reach them.
Some ways you can market and advertise your business are:
- Advertise on social media.
- Set up a business website.
- Advertise in similar businesses (e.g. tattoo studios).
- Partner with local businesses that are popular with your target customer base and offer discounts.
- Post leaflets in your local area.
Your equipment requirements
Consult the list above to determine your equipment requirements. The equipment you require will depend on the type of piercing business you set up and how big your premises is. Once you have determined your equipment requirements, you can then calculate the initial costs of purchasing the equipment and the monthly replenishment costs (e.g. for needles, latex gloves and jewellery).
Your start-up costs and running costs
Consult the list above to help you calculate the approximate costs of setting up and running your business. Determine what equipment you need and the amount of equipment, as well as the cost of your premises, to help you determine your start-up costs and what your initial investment requirements will be. You can then calculate whether you can finance your business yourself or whether you need to source outside investment, for example, from a bank or an independent investor. Determining your start-up costs and running costs can also help you to create a budget and predict when you will begin to turn a profit.
Financing your business
Consult the list of start-up costs and running costs above to determine what capital you will require. Can you finance the business yourself or will you need to source outside investment? You will also need to calculate when you are likely to begin turning a profit. If you require outside investment, you could consider a bank or other financial institution, a business loan or an investment partner.
Different piercings will have different pricing, depending on the difficulty of the piercing, the equipment that is required, the piercing jewellery and the skills and knowledge required of the piercer. Calculate your acceptable profit margin per piercing and look at the pricing of your local competition when setting your prices.
Your sales forecast
How many piercings can you realistically complete in one day? Are there certain times of the year that are likely to be busier than others? What are your weekly, monthly and annual sales forecasts? You can analyse the sales forecasts of similar businesses and look at how sales vary throughout the year to estimate demand. As your business grows, your sales forecast is likely to change.
Your strategy for growth
Your strategy for growth is the actions you will take to realise your goals for expansion and any potential challenges your business could face and how you will avoid or overcome them. This can help to make your business more successful.
Potential challenges could include:
- High local competition.
- Lack of returning customers.
- Being in an area with low footfall.
Some potential strategies for growth include:
- Hire more employees.
- Expand your premises.
- Offer discounts for multiple piercings.
Your business summary
Your business plan should include a detailed overview of your business, including the type of body piercing business you are setting up, the piercings you will offer, your typical customer base, your staffing and equipment requirements and your business goals.
Your business goals
Your business goals or objectives are an essential part of creating your business plan. Your business objectives highlight the targets and goals of your body piercing business and help you to create a one-year, three-year and five-year business plan.
Your business objectives should be SMART:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Achievable
- R = Realistic
- T = Time-bound
Check you have complied with all legal requirements
Consult the list of legal requirements above to check you have complied with all requirements and regulations and that all your paperwork is accurate. Failure to comply with legal requirements could have a detrimental effect on your business or could result in a fine, the forced closure of your business or, in serious cases, prosecution.