New York-based piercing pioneer Maria Tash has just landed in Australia, setting up her luxurious studio within Mecca’s flagship store in Sydney, complete with private piercing rooms, an expert team of stylists and a range of services including styling, piercing, consultations and check-ups.
The eponymous jewellery brand is well-known all over the world for creating innovative piercing techniques and styles and is coveted by trendsetters and celebrities all over the world, including Hailey Bieber, Taylor Swift, Kylie Jenner and Blake Lively.
Here, Tash chats with Retail Beauty about how her business began, the rising interest in piercing and what makes her in-store experience so unique.
You’re known as a pioneer in piercing. What do you find so fascinating about piercing and what makes the Maria Tash experience unique?
I created a business that did not exist before, which is an amalgamation of fine jewellery, fashion, and beauty. I have spent over 20 years creating jewellery that complements the shape of the ear and that can be worn continuously and comfortably.
I believe that we have created a strong customer base because the Maria Tash experience is unlike any other. The elevated experience is a synergy between the quality and uniqueness of the jewellery, the inventiveness of the styling and piercing locations, as well as the ease of the piercing experience because of our specialised tools and anaesthetic.
When clients arrive at Maria Tash, they spend one-on-one time with our stylists who are trained to consider skin tone, anatomy, personal style aesthetics, and any prominent visual feature to carefully advise on jewellery selection. This time is highly individualised and we custom fit each piece of jewellery to a client’s anatomy. Then our piercing experts use state-of-the-art modern piercing equipment, tools, and sterilisation.
You founded your business in 1993, but there’s been a recent rise in piercing in the beauty landscape. What is behind the increased interest and how would you describe the piercing industry right now?
I think piercing and jewellery has become more popular recently due to the combination of two factors: the invention of fine jewellery that is thin, elaborate, small, and designed for comfortable long-term wear and the new exposure to different types of piercings that people may have not seen before, particularly on the ears.
What are some of the common customer misconceptions about piercing that you aim to change?
People are starting to appreciate the merits of piercing unexpected parts of the ear and adorning them with fine jewellery. Improved jewellery (and very tiny jewellery) has also inspired multiple piercings and we hear our clients say they did not want a new piercing until they saw the jewellery.
I think we have broken loose of the stereotype that we have to have matching first lobe piercings and nothing else. People now treat their multiple piercings as autonomous vehicles for styling, and selling earrings individually has certainly helped.
Tell me about some of the new piercings that you’ve developed for customers.
I introduced and trademarked two new piercing placements in recent years which have since become very popular: the Tash Helix and the Tash Hidden Rook. Both locations create a look of unexpected emergence with the jewellery nestled perfectly into the curves of cartilage anatomy. The final look creates a sense of wonder and beauty and makes you think, ‘How does this work?’. It’s rare to develop a new piercing technique that is easy to heal and versatile, and those locations fit that criteria.
I’ve also just released the Tash Lobe which is a new variation of a lobe piercing. It is in the lobe, but located in the unusual spot where it abuts the cheek, thereby creating a completely new look not seen before.
Tell me about the Tash Studio software and how it enhances the customer experience.
I patented Tash Studio, our virtual try-on software, so clients can design their future look on their phone or computers, in the comfort of their home, or with a Maria Tash stylist in the stores. The software is great because it is fun and the looks can easily be shared with friends to get feedback before any piercing service takes place.
It’s fully rendered jewellery that uses AI to employ real piercing principles — it knows where rings and studs actually go on the ear and has principles of gravity built in. It knows the inner diameter of earrings and how much gravity sits on a ring. You can rotate studs 360 degrees.
What excites you most about the world of piercing right now and what are some of the trends that you’ve got your eye on?
I think a lobe piercing will always be number one in popularity because of its quick healing time and cultural acceptance. However, the more innovative lobe piercings, like a stacked lobe, specifically above the second or third traditional placement, will appeal to clients who want something more artful. The Tash Rook and contraconch will be popular for 2024 especially with threaded charms. It is very beautiful to have the subtle movement of studs placed in these regions. I think “cool girls” will concentrate their curations on the more unusual locations and have a lot of fun with all of the jewellery options.
Jo-Anne Hui-Miller is Content and Insights Director at retail strategy agency, The General Store. Visit: thegstore.com.au.
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