It has been a whole 3 years since I got the keys to 6 Bridlesmith Walk and began the adventure that is Rogue. It has been an interesting 3 years so I thought I would put together a blog to take a look back at where we have been and where we are going.
Dreams, Loans and Business Plans
The first seeds of Rogue were sown many years before I began writing the business plan. As a travelling piercer I fell in love with many different studios around the world and I was fortunate enough to get the chance to work at and visit some of the worlds top studios. During this time I was able to see what worked and didn’t work for me, what I liked and didn’t like, and it helped me to build up an image of the style I wanted (light, airy, high ceilings, minimalist, and very euro style apparently).
After nearly 3 years of living out of a backpack, sleeping on floors and in spare rooms (thanks to everyone that housed me!), and with Brexit looming, it was time for me to head back to the UK. I managed to get myself a job at a studio that was in the same region as my home town but sadly this studio didn’t work out for me. I found myself back at the family home and I was contemplating leaving piercing behind. A great childhood friend called me and told me to come visit him in his new home in Nottingham, as I hadn’t seen him since I had hit the road travelling. One day trip to Nottingham later and I was looking through the window of what would soon become Rogue. My friend reminded me of all the work I had done to get as far as I had, both personally and for the industry with the UKAPP and teaching seminars. He said that it was time for me to create my own space and hold true to my own standards. So home I went, and the paperwork began in a frenzy. 4 weeks later I had a business plan, a financial advisor, a start-up loan, a registered Limited company, keys to a premises and all of the fear and excitement that comes with such massive changes.
Once the keys were in my hand everything was suddenly very real. Rogue had bills arriving and the studio was just an empty space. The start-up loan got used up pretty much instantly just by buying Rogue’s jewellery stock and building sterilisation suite so I was left with a very small fund to complete the build. Due to this I got my DIY on, called some friends and got to work. In 2 weeks I managed to lay the floors, build the walls, build a full sterilisation suite, build out a piercing room, install fire alarms, plumb in two sinks, build a suspension rig, and acquire and move in all the required furniture. Every part of Rogue was planned out to meet or exceed UKAPP and APP standards from the start, so that when the time was right I could apply for membership.
The early days of Rogue involved me sitting alone in an empty studio, with no staff and no client base. This took a lot of mental strain to continue on. Some days not a single person would walk through the door. I did my very best to offer the best services and products as I could to every person that came in. This ethos still stands to this day. I always wanted everyone to feel welcome at Rogue. I didn’t want Rogue to feel like an exclusive club, I wanted the exact opposite in fact. Piercing is a very human desire and I didn’t want anyone to feel excluded from this.
The Beginnings of a Team
Before long I was thinking about forming a team. Nottingham was now my home and the people of the city were making me feel more and more welcome as each day passed. The studio was getting busier and I felt it was time to grow and bring new Rogues into the shop.
I decided that it was time for me to take on an apprentice. I had a 10 year piercing career under my belt and a very high level of experience. I wanted to pass that on to the next generation. My apprenticeship was a wonderful time of my life that I look back on with the fondest of memories. So the hunt began and I found Jess. Not long after Jess joined, our wonderful Manager Kat became a Rogue. Kat gave themself a job more than I did. During the first day of lockdown Kat came to help me stock take before locking everything away and they basically never left!
Unbeknownst to everyone, the hardest phase of my entire piercing career was on the horizon at this point. The day the world stopped: Covid-19. As a close contact service provider we were one of the first types of business to be closed down and one of the last to be allowed to reopen. As a young business this was utterly punishing and I genuinely wasn’t sure if Rogue would come out the other side. I was facing the end of my piercing dream and potentially having to put my steel toe capped boots on and return to an engineering job to pay back the start-up loan. The hard work and camaraderie that Jess and Kat put in really kept me and Rogue going during this time. All training and apprenticeship had to be paused at this point, and our only source of income was whatever government handouts we could get. This put severe strain on all of us. In the end I decided to take a very large second loan so that I could be sure that Rogue’s door would one day open again. That loan still hangs over us to this day but we’ve managed to keep going and we’re still standing and making Nottingham shine.
Since that first lockdown we had another two lockdowns, had an altercation with the alt-right community (oops!) that included threats of violence towards myself and the team, had staff members leave, had jewellery shortages, rocketing PPE prices and we had to change out our entire basic range due to manufacturer issues. But hey, it wasn’t all doom and gloom! The good bits have been really great. We had team members continue to learn and grow, tattooing joined us in the form of Anna with Revenant Tattoo, the Rogue team got bigger with Breo, Jay and Gemma joining us, we became UKAPP members and have had endless amazing support from our fantastic client base. There has even been a new person welcomed to this world by one of our clients in the form of the first Rogue baby! It’s been a real rollercoaster of emotion and at times it’s been a rough ride but what a ride it has been.
Rogue in 2022
2022 has been a big year for us all at Rogue. Breo became a resident rather than a guest, Gemma joined the team as junior piercer and Jay pierced her first ever human being. I’m super excited to see what the future holds for this team of wonderful weirdos. I’m grateful to have them working alongside me and wouldn’t want it any other way. Some of the team are now going on to teach at the UKAPP conference, help train other fledgling piercers, go back to university to help support the piercing industry, and continue on their own personal growth. I couldn’t think of a better place to be right now.
Knowing what the future holds has always been beyond our reach, but following the last few years this feels even more difficult. I am excited to see what is over the horizon for Rogue, myself and the team. I’m sure we will take on the challenges head on. Rogue has grown in directions I never could have imagined, and has taught me more than I envisaged. We’re going to continue doing what we do. Putting high quality piercings, body jewellery and piercing information out into the world. I’m looking forward to writing up the 5 year blog in a couple of years time and having a big ol’ party to celebrate! For now I just want to say thank you to the team, clients and friends who have helped make Rogue what it is today.