Having a successful tattoo shop is all about the “client experience,” Jay Miller, owner of Crucible Tattoo, said. The shop, located on Main Street in Kent, Ohio.
What distinguishes Crucible from the other businesses, Miller said, is that everything he does is about the overall experience for the client.
“There are six tattoo shops in the area,” he said, “but which one do you want? Do you want the one where you pay $20 and a guy puts something on you or do you want a piece of art that you can go show off?”
This is why Miller said he feels it is important to get to know each client on a personal basis.
One of the most important things when getting to know a client, he said, is taking the time to ask that person direct questions and help guide him to making a decision. He also said customers can change their minds or become unsure if there isn’t planning beforehand.
“Yet even with planning,” Miller said, “the customer could still want to make a change, Miller said.
In this event, Miller said, even if a client is mid-tattoo, he needs to stop, think about the change and redevelop the plan before continuing.
On average, Crucible Tattoo has anywhere from two to three consultations per day, Miller said, but sometimes there can be as many as 10 to 12. The artists at Crucible Tattoo only generate revenue from tattooing itself, not from the consultation. Because of that, Miller requires a $20 cash deposit.
New tattoo artist Brittiny Ashby said she enjoys the “easygoing” atmosphere of the shop.
“I like how the artists work together as a team,” Ashby said.
As a result, she said, they have been able to form a bond. Although Ashby has only been a tattoo artist for two years, she said one of the best ways to improve is to watch and observe more experienced artists within the shop, continue practicing drawing and take art classes.
“Another important aspect of having a successful tattoo business is rules and guidelines to protect both the customer and the business,” Miller said.
Crucible Tattoo requires each potential customer to sign a waiver that states he or she does not have certain medical conditions such as heart disease, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, diabetes or hepatitis.
By signing the waiver, the customer also indicates he understands he has had the opportunity to ask questions. The customer also agrees not to sue Crucible Tattoo or its employees because of negligence of the artist or the customer. Crucible Tattoo abides by the guidelines and laws set forth by the Ohio Health Department, Miller said.
Not only does Crucible Tattoo have generic guidelines similar to other tattoo places, Miller said he will not tattoo anyone under 15 years of age even with parent permission.
“I enjoy the mixture of clientele,” he said, “which ranges from locals to college students to clients that have flown in from Australia and some will begin making annual trips back to get tattoos.”
Miller said he hopes the downtown Kent revitalization will bring him even more business as he notices other area businesses pick up.
“Somebody thought that if you invested a billion dollars in this town,” he said, “he could get his money back. Someone thinks that a lot of money could be generated here and I want a piece of that.”
Not only have members of the city been working toward improving the appearance of downtown Kent, Crucible Tattoo has been doing minor remodeling as well, including the addition of four private rooms for tattooing to complement the two that are already in working order.
Crucible tattoo artist Jonah Dunbar said customers have been noticing the private rooms for tattooing and are looking forward to the finished product. Tattoo apprentice Joe Burger adds that as an artist, the private rooms are “better for the artist and the customer.. The artist will be able to be more focused on the client, and the client will be able to feel more at ease.”
Burger plans to use his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in graphic design.
“If you can use digital media to enhance your work,” Burger said, “why wouldn’t you?”
In terms of marketing, the employees of Crucible Tattoo enjoy going into downtown Kent or Kent State’s campus to talk to people and promote their business. Miller’s main goal is for “people to know that I’m here and I’m doing this,” he said. He is also working toward getting his business featured in tattoo magazines.
“If you treat people well and do good work, the money’s always going to be there,” he said.
Within the next month, Miller hopes to have all the private rooms available and have the shop functioning at full capacity. Eventually, Miller said he would like to have the shop able to operate without him there, so he can pursue philanthropic work and fulfill his lifelong dream of traveling the world.