Well, well, well. Time absolutely flies.
Monday, March 20th marks my three year anniversary at Rogue! If you want to take a trip down memory lane with me, just scroll through the gallery above to see me go from a tiny baby punk to a grizzled, old manager! I’m allowed to indulge myself in some reminiscing, if you can keep your eyes open long enough to read it…
In the Beginning…
I first found Rogue after getting my conch pierced at another studio in Nottingham city center. Once I let it heal for a bit, I really wanted to find some new jewellery for it as they didn’t have anything on offer except plain ‘Titanium’ balls. A few months after getting it pierced, I went back to that studio and asked if they had anything nicer. The lovely lady behind the desk was really sweet (and honest!) and told me that a new studio had just opened a week or so earlier, and that I was best to check there for nice jewellery. I did a quick google, went down the wrong lane (as most people do!) and ended up walking through the doors at Rogue for the first time in September 2019!
It was very quiet. I think I might have been the first person through the door all day! The joys of opening a new business in a new city, I suppose. I immedietely knew I was in the right place. A couple of days later and I was booked in for a few new piercings, and the week after I had my first ever piece of BVLA for my conch piercing! That was quite possibly the upgrade of the century.
I found University quite a struggle. Being Autistic, I had a hard time connecting with my peers. Strangely though, being in Rogue felt like home. I was in and out of the studio a lot after my first visit, not necessarily being pierced but always asking questions. The jewellery really drew me in – I’ve always been a bit of a magpie! I already had an inkling that I’d be spending a lot of my free time here.
Just after that first Christmas at Uni, I popped into Rogue and Aiden mentioned that he was hosting a suspension event. I was quite frankly mind-blown. I’d only ever heard of suspension through the internet, (thank you, years of unsupervised internet access!) and I didn’t think people actually did it. I couldn’t say no!
So in March, I went down to the studio with a friend who had offered to take professional(ish) photos and had my mind officially melted. This was also my first time meeting quite a few people from the industry (shout out to everyone that I met!) and I had never felt so at home. I look back and realise I was the most awkward, uncomfortable looking creature on the planet, but it was absolutely worth it. Also a most excellent afterparty, where at one point I ended up having to scale a 12ft fence and emerge from some bushes to catch an uber. You clearly had to be there.
And then, just a few days after the last suspension event… Some global calamity happened. I’m sure none of you remember it, it was super casual and only lasted two weeks…
My uni flatmate moved home and I was suddenly left on my own in Nottingham! No close family, no uni friends… But I did have Rogue. And Rogue became my reason to get up every morning! It was during this time that I learned a lot of what I know about piercing and jewellery. In that first few months, we recieved an influx of jewellery from another studio but none of it was labelled – It was up to us to inspect every single piece and decide what it was! This is kinda where I fell in love with BVLA as well. Not only is their jewellery beautiful, but it has real recogniseability! So I spent weeks and weeks with the macro lens, looking at the fine details of prong-set Swarovski crystals to try and determine whether they were manufactured by Industrial Strength, Neometal, or Anatometal. If that sounds like fun, then you definitely need to get out more! The hardest things were the labrets – It’s funny though, I can still tell an Anatometal threadless labret from a Neometal one, and a WBJ labret from an Anatometal threaded labret just by looking at the side profile of their disc. And who said piercing doesn’t give you transferrable skills!
The part that always makes me laugh is when I first started at Rogue, Aiden asked me if I was familiar with Excel and spreadsheets, because there was a LOT of spreadsheets involved. I said ‘Yes, I love spreadsheets! I am super good at them!’ Y’know. Like a liar. So I had to secretly give myself an aggressive crash-course in Excel/Google Sheets in order to maintain that lie for the first few weeks! In all fairness, I do now love spreadsheets.
Since I lived alone, I ended up in a bubble with Aiden and Anna, who graciously adopted me as a lightly feral nephew-type-deal. I’ll always be grateful for that. So I spent a lot of 2020 on a narrowboat, which was definitely not how I planned my year going.
The best and strangest part of my start at Rogue was that I didn’t actually speak to or interact with an actual client until I had been working there for a good few months! Because we were classed as a close-contact service, we were very late to be allowed to reopen. The first time I actually had a client come through the door, it felt slightly illegal. Face-to-face interactions with customers are still my favourite moments though. As much as I enjoy being huddled behind a screen with my spreadsheets and order schedules, talking to real people is the highlight of my day.
At the time I didn’t really know how perilous things might have been, but looking back I am amazed that Rogue survived that time! Since reopening, it feels like Rogue has gone from strength to strength.
Raising the Baby.
Since reopening, it feels like the last few years have gone by in an absolute blur. I’m nearly in my mid-twenties now (I’m sure anyone 30+ is groaning – It feels old to me, ok!), and I’ve ended up as a manager (some may describe me as Supreme Overlord…) with 4-ish employees, a very large business to care for, and a never-ending headache of a jewellry collection! When did that happen?!
I don’t know the exact moment when Rogue became my baby, but it really has. I feel like I’ve definitely poured some of my cold, blackened soul into it and it has repayed me with a career that most people can only dream of (If they know it even exists!) I’ve watched it grow from a one-man show into one of the biggest UKAPP member studios in the country. I’ve been there for the good days and the bad – But I can say with certainty that there’s never a boring day at Rogue!
Since then, I twisted the UKAPPs arm to create a new membership category for non-piercer Associates (of which I was the first!), I’ve taught a fully-packed seminar at the annual UKAPP conference in Manchester, and I’ve won (and immedietely deferred) the Lynn Loheide Front of House scholarship for APP conference 2024 in Las Vegas. International travel may terrify me, but I will be getting on that plane even if someone has to hit me over the head with a rubber mallet first! I feel like I might need to take an actual holiday at some point…
Nose to the Grindstone
I remember very clearly the day I finished my last undergrad exam. I was sitting it at the front desk at Rogue on my laptop, since everything had moved online. I remember closing the laptop and saying, “Thank Christ it’s over. Never again.”
Famous last words…
So, after taking a year to forget how vaguely awful my undergrad was, I applied to and successfully got a place on my dream Masters! MSc Hons Microbiology and Immunology. A bit of a mouthful but incredibly interesting.
And that’s where I’m at now! Just trying to balance my baby with my degree, while still aiming for 6+ hours of sleep a night. It’s definitely hard work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have my own little found family in the Rogues, and I get to wake up every morning and do something I love.
This blog has definitely just been me indulging myself in ramblings, but it’s been a whirlwind of a three years and I’m really looking forward to what the next three years looks like. If the last few years are anything to go by, it’ll be worth sticking around to find out!
Thank you everyone for coming to Rogue, letting me have fun and be creative with your jewellery, and just generally making my passion into something genuinely fulfilling, that can actually pay my bills at the same time!
Back to our regularly scheduled interesting blog posts next week…
-Kat < 3