Malls, Claire’s, tattoo parlors, a friend’s house, and jewelry stores may seemingly not have anything in common but these are the common venues people frequent in order to get their ears pierced, each offering a varied experience. Millennials and Gen Z favor experiences over possessions and getting your ears pierced at any of these places is not consistent with the new experiential economy. Studs has built the first-of-its-kind modern ear piercing studio that caters to the piercing needs of today’s most discerning millennials and Gen Zs. With a devout focus on customer experience, patrons at the studio receive personal consultations aided through technology and aftercare check-ins to ensure the entire experience is personalized. The company, founded in 2019, also offers accessibly-priced trend-driven earrings, both at its studio and direct-to-consumer online.
AlleyWatch caught up with Studs Cofounder and CEO Anna Harman to learn more about the inspiration for the business, strategic plans, building in-person retail and e-commerce lines in tandem, latest round of funding, which brings the total funding raised to $30M, and much, much more.
Who were your investors, and how much did you raise?
Studs has raised $20M in Series B funding. The round was led by Spark Capital with participation from existing investors, including Thrive Capital, First Round Capital, and Lerer Hippeau.
Tell us about the product or service that Studs offers.
Studs reimagines ear piercing by offering consultative and expert needle piercing services, combined with a wide assortment of accessibly priced, on-trend earrings, and an experiential retail environment for its primarily Gen Z and millennial customers.
Studs was conceptualized after I tried to get a second piercing. During my visit to a high-end piercing parlor, I noticed multiple shortcomings – the wait time was long, it was expensive and the store was not optimized for today’s consumer so I left that day without a piercing. Lisa (cofounder) then came with me to get the second piercing at a tattoo parlor, and while the procedure was safe and healthy, using a needle, I again felt out of place, and the experience was not meeting the full consumer demand. We researched the ear piercing and earring retail industries and after talking to our target Gen Z and millennial customers, we honed in on a significant gap in the market between “mall brands,” tattoo parlors, and high-end shops. Together, we cofounded Studs as an innovative, safe, trend-forward, and accessibly-priced ear piercing and earring brand that speaks to today’s audience offline and online.
How is Studs different?
Studs is differentiated in a few ways – our trained piercing professionals pierce with needles, never guns, but at an accessible price point. Our piercing service is highly consultative and our piercers use the customer’s specific ear anatomy and desired look to craft an Earscape® that is unique to that customer. We have a wide assortment of everyday earrings that we sell in singles to make it easy to customize your Earscape® for each ear once your holes have healed.
What market does Studs target and how big is it?
Studs is disrupting the multi-billion-dollar fashion jewelry and piercing industries.
What’s your business model?
Studs has an omnichannel business model for end-to-end Earscaping® services across Studs stores and studs.com. We sell ear piercing services, ear piercing jewelry, aftercare accessories like saline spray and a Studs piercing pillow, and a wide assortment of earrings for healed holes. Studs charges for ear piercing services and ear piercing jewelry separately – $35 for one piercing, $50 for two, and $15 for a jewelry change. The cost of piercing jewelry ranges from $30-$300. Studs sells earrings in-store and online in singles and pairs ranging $10-$120 per earring.
What are your post-COVID office plans?
Studs works in-office at our HQ in Soho.
What was the funding process like?
Investors were enthusiastic about the business, and we chose Spark because of their strong experience with consumer companies, great track record, and Kevin Thau’s passion for the future of consumer and retail.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Studs is a compelling investment for a number of reasons. There is strong consumer demand for the service, and all of our piercing appointments are continually booked at every location. We also have a solid financial foundation with highly profitable offline unit economics at the stores.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
In the next six months, we plan to get to double-digit store locations.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Studs will use this new injection of capital to fuel the national expansion of our physical retail locations and to grow our e-commerce business.
What’s your favorite outdoor dining restaurant in NYC?
Fanelli’s in Soho near Studs.