Piercing and tattoo startups offer a new twist on body art

Cassandra has explored how modern youth focus on building their personal style and improving their outward appearance in an extension of their inward efforts to better themselves, and body art is an important part of this effort. The following startups are reimagining the experience around getting a piercing and even innovating the ink used in tattoos to evolve body art for the experimental and style-conscious modern consumer.


Studs is changing the piercing paradigm: the startup is redesigning the experience of getting an ear piercing to cater to the Gen Z consumer (though all ages are welcome). Studs offers a brick-and-mortar piercing destination along with an online platform where consumers can shop the brand’s piercing and fashion jewelry and book an appointment to the physical retail outlet, which is located in NYC’s Nolita neighborhood. Unlike traditional mall piercing destinations, Studs employees are trained professionals who pierce with a needle, not a gun. One piercing costs $35 while two is $50, and customers also pay for the cost of the piercing post, which ranges from $30 to $180 per earring.


Rowan, like Studs, is a direct-to-consumer ear piercing startup that targets Gen Zs. Rowan customers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut can book a piercing appointment with a licensed nurse who comes to their house to pierce their ears with sterile starter studs made from medical grade materials. Those outside of Rowan’s current in-home piercing range can still subscribe to Rowan’s other offering: a $19-per-month “earring club” wherein subscribers receive a new pair of hypoallergenic, Rowan-designed earrings along with other delightful accessories and surprises—all geared around celebration and mindfulness—each month.


Piercings aren’t the only type of body art that startups are eyeing: tattoos are similarly ripe for innovation. Venture-capital backed startup Inque has developed a tattoo ink that is essentially erasable: it’s transferred into the skin in the standard way, but when the recipient wants the ink “removed”, a low-power laser triggers a chemical reaction in the ink’s molecules that render the ink invisible. The process basically turns the ink “off,” even as it remains under the skin. Inque plans to open tattoo parlours that exclusively offer this ink in cities like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia later in 2020.