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Knotty Headz Body Piercing shops capture niche market

Posted in Piercing News at 6:58 am by admin

Knotty Headz Body Piercing shops capture niche market
Christian Brown believes he can create a chain of shops with a service that the hip set yearns for — body piercings.

The father of three and owner of some 100 tattoos and three piercings opened his third Columbia-area Knotty Headz Body Piercing shop this month.

That makes Knotty Headz the Wal-Mart — well, at least the mini-mart — of piercing parlors in South Carolina. Brown, 35, owns the most statewide, according to S.C. licensing officials.

And the onetime plastic and rubber molder wants more. Brown plans to expand his piercing chain to Georgia.

“I want to grow it as large as I can,” he said.

His business concept is simple: he stresses value, quality and accessibility. Brown’s mantra is that self-expression should be universal and affordable.

“(Body art) is the ultimate permanent expression of who you are,” said Brown, who has close to 65 percent of his body covered in tattoos and piercings in his tongue, ears and nose.

South Carolina first legalized body piercing in 2000 and tattooing last year.

The state has 37 licensed body-piercing shops, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Most individual piercers make between $10,000 and $25,000 annually, according to the Kansas-based Association of Professional Piercers.

“Most people, piercers, get into the business because of a personal desire,” association administrator Caitlin McDiarmid said. “It obviously has nothing to do with making lots of money.”

However, what began as a curiosity for Brown has become a successful venture.

Brown opened his first piercing shop at 209 S. Beltline Drive two years ago. And last spring, he opened a Knotty Headz kiosk store at Columbia Place mall. The mall kiosk retails body jewelry and refers customers for piercings to the Beltline location.

His third piercing and jewelry shop debuted on Decker Boulevard in Northeast Richland earlier this month. And Brown has opened his first Knotty Headz tattoo shop next door.

Knotty Headz’s tongue and navel piercings start at $20.

Based on his tax records, Brown said, his sales have doubled since his first year in business. He averages about 1,200 customers per month at his Beltline and mall location.

“For those age 25 and under, it is a fashion necessity,” Brown said.

Brown said 80 percent of his clients are African-American and most are women.

University of South Carolina marketing professor David Crockett said Brown is in a great niche because for many young adults and teens, getting a piercing or tattoo is a rite of passage.

Brown got his first tattoo at 18 and first piercing — in his ear — at 15.

After attending the USC business school for a couple of years, Brown said he worked in the rubber and plastics industry for 10 years. Brown worked as a flamer and molder of plastics and rubber, but felt limited in his job — and future with the company.

“(At my job) my appearance would not allow me to move up to a supervisory role,” he said.

Brown said he needed a change. Brown opened his first body-piercing shop in 2005 in a former bridal shop. He dubbed it Knotty Headz, a name he said reflects “hipness.”

He worked two jobs and saved to get the space and equipment he needed for his business.

Brown said he believes he flourished because the shop neighbored Midlands Technical College. Brown said he chose to open his second at Columbia Place because many of his original customers lived near the mall.

He opened his latest full-service piercing shop not far from Fort Jackson. Word of mouth already lands him customers.

Stacy Gehr, 18, of Columbia, came to Knotty Headz last November at the recommendation of friends to get a navel piercing. And she was back again last month at the Beltline shop to get her upper ear pierced.

“I had just heard good comments about it. They’re good.”

Reach Fulton at (803) 771-8659.


• S.C. Piercing customers must be at least 18 years old and present a valid state or federal picture identification.

• Piercing technicians must be at least 18 years old and have current Red Cross First Aid and CPR certification. They also must wash their hands with germicide soap and sterilize needles and other equipment in an autoclave.

• Body piercing owners must pay a $300 yearly fee to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.


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  1. Suzy said,

    August 8, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    Body Piercing is something that before was seen as maybe just a fad or a trend that may go away, but it is getting more widespread over all different types of people. In the future there will hopefully be more regulations on the practise of Body Piercing. The regulations should be helpful and not harmful to business. Each piercer should do his or her best in keeping abreast of changes and modifying their practices accordingly. Body Piercing should be affordable, but it should also be done with the correct standard of jewelry. Doing a navel piercing for $20 is an extremely cheap price and I hope that Brown’s shop is using implant grade jewelry. Happy piercings

  2. The LaBoratory Tattoo & Piercing Studio said,

    August 24, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Christian Brown is business minded but he is giving Professional Body Piercers a bad reputation and degrading our Industry! ($20) for a Piercing is an insult and adds injury to all of us that are true Professional Body Modification Artists World Wide. Not to mention it cost me roughly $15.00 to do a Professional Piercing using PROPER Sterile Medical supplies and ASTM Implant Grade Jewelry. This does not include the wear and tear on instruments, our ultrasonic and our autoclave or advertising, rent and electricty. I have been Piercing Professionally for 17 years now. I currently own two Body Modification studios and have helped open seven others. I personally use to make $72,000 annually on Body Piercing alone, untill jerks like this started using cheap jewelry, cheap needles and cheap equipment made in CHILD-LABOR SWEAT SHOPS overseas. And using improper supplies that are not single packed sterileized. People like Christian Brown are jepordizing the longevity of piercing by conducting themselves in such improper manors. Too the untrained eye his procedures look professional but under the microscope, (literally), he is undoubtively unprofessional! It’s ashame to see someone take such pride making a mochary of our Industry!

  3. Jackie Brown said,

    September 13, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    im 15 turning 16 in 3 months and already have my eyebrow pierced, it has been a year so far that i have had it. I was wondering how much money would it cost to get my lip pierced, (left snake bite) how old do i have to be to get it done at ur shop…should i bring my mother to co-sign fo it?

  4. Jessica McNuer said,

    October 4, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    I was wanting to get my tounge pierced on Sat. from ya’ll and i was wondering if my sister could sign for me because my parents have to work and i live with her anyways she is 20 and i am 17 i will be 18 in 5 months please contact me back as soon as possible. Thanks i really want this to be done i have wanted it for 2 years.

  5. Brittney said,

    October 15, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    I love Knotty Headz. I just recently got my helix pierced and the girl who did it was so nice. I feel so comfortable going there and letting them pierce me. Christian was so helpful when I had questions to ask her about my piercings since I have a tendency to get cyst around the area. She told me what to do and what piercings may or may not be right for me. I can’t wait to go and get my targus pierced by them. And to the person who is talk about it isn’t sanitary is wrong. I saw them open everything in front of me. The people who work there are great and I wouldn’t go to anyone else to get a piercing!

  6. sammi said,

    November 6, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    i have my tounge my belly my eye brow and all up my ears pierced and im only 15 is that an ko age for body piercers to do that? im mean i cant wait to get my upper lip pierced but my mom said i couldnt unless i had an adult with me and they have to be a parent or guardian is that true? or can it be another realative?

  7. w. hunteri said,

    August 1, 2008 at 2:59 am

    I got a tattoo from Rich last Tues on Decker Blvd and now have a Staph infection and was over tattooed…..yea -overly done…like holes in me…yep…and infected. But I was told by the Mgr there that I DID THIS to myself. First off, this is my 4th tattoo and all others have healed fine…of course from other tattoo shops. And no after care sheet was given to me, oh! yea the only one I got was the one that said I could care for it if I bought their product. But– BEWARE anyone wanting a cheap tattoo…that is what you will get…a cheap…knotted up job done.

  8. taryn said,

    August 28, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    how are catilage piercings done?

  9. Lacy Smith said,

    August 31, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    im 15. I was wondering how much money would it cost to get my nose pierced, how old do i have to be to get it done at your shop…should i bring my mother to co-sign for it?

  10. kdobbs24 said,

    September 12, 2008 at 2:51 am

    Last month I got my belly button pierced at Knotty Headz. I started having problems from day 1. It was super swollen and very very painful. I went back and they were totally rude to me and said it was fine. I kept doing everything they told me to do. I thought maybe it was normal for it to be so red at first and to feel really uncomfortable. Finally, after 3 weeks of hell, I decided that having the piercing wasn’t worth all the hurt, so I took it out……. I immediately saw the problem….. the jewelry they put in my belly button was RUSTED!!!!!!!!!!!! It was disgusting. I took it to my doctor and now I’m taking a bunch of antibiotics and he said I was lucky not to have gotten metal poisoning and he HOPES it doesn’t leave a really bad scar. I am trying to spread the word about these people and what they did to me. Nobody in their right mind would put that piece of junk in another person’s body….. AVOID KNOTTY HEADZ AT ALL COSTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. JPierce said,

    September 18, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    The comment left by Laboratory Tattoo is what’s wrong with the industry. Talk about being full of himself. He spews arrogance that is turning people off to piercing all together. The hostility is similar to the type of guys that start up their tattoo biz in their garage.

    You might want to change up your business model. No more is the way of overcharging people for over priced jewelry being accepted.

    Lets not forget that body piercing is not surgery. There is all this talk about 316L versus 316LVM and cheap over seas jewelry, blah blah blah. The reality is that the amount of time that a piece of jewelry is actually inside the body compared to an actual medical implant is so short. There are plenty of people with 316L medical implants in there body from well over 20 years. I think 316L in your belly button will be just fine. In regards to overseas jewelry, there are some really skilled workers with precision tools making jewelry. I will take that versus some domestic products that are made by out of work machinist making it in their garage.

    Fight On!

  12. iTiffany said,

    August 7, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Im 15 years old. I want to get my lip pierced. I would just like to know the things I need and if I can even get it done. How much does it cost at one of your shops? Do I need my mother or Father to sign for me? Thank you all.

  13. Mduckie6 said,

    September 14, 2009 at 7:26 am

    I had my snakebites done a couple months back at the beltline blvd. store, and it was okay. The piercing turned out sort of crooked, but it still looks good. The people working there were pretty rude, they didnt let me pick out the size of my lip studs. They didnt even tell me what sizes of the ones i recieved were…I wont be going back there anytime soon…

  14. bob said,

    January 20, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    to Mduckiie6, you have to ask questions!!!! dummy

  15. bob said,

    January 20, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    The LaBoratory Tattoo & Piercing Studio guy is an idiot. ok first of all you DONT WORK THERE SO YOU DONT KNOW what kindof jewelry they use there you’re just yappin you’re app mouth off sounding like an idiot.

  16. taylor said,

    April 8, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    I was wondering if i could get snakebites? I am 13 years old and very responsible. Also i have wanted snakebites for years now and i am positive i want them. So can i get them with a parent or gardian there with me? I am allowed to get them.