“I started piercing myself at 13 years old.
I remember looking through one of my sister's Rolling Stone magazines and there was a ‘What's Hot and What's Not’ section. In ‘What's Hot’ was a picture of a navel piercing on a woman and I didn't know you could do that.
My parents went to sleep that night and I'm in my bedroom, with a safety pin, a lighter, a bucket of ice, a little, stupid hoop from Claire's.
I pierced my own navel.
I literally used a lighter to, what I thought was, sterilize a safety pin- which is horrible, by the way. *DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, KIDS* It took an hour to complete the whole process, and it was horribly painful and stupid.
For two years, I had a painful navel that never healed. I went through and tried all sorts of different things to make it work. It was constantly red and agitated, but I still had it and it was mine and it was holding on. The naval was just so hard to heal.
I never pierced anybody else, thankfully, until I knew what I was doing, but piercings were just an instant attraction for me. My mother told me that I would sit in the basement as a kid and look through National Geographic magazines and just stare at them. I remember looking at jewelry at an early, early age, like six or five and just being amazed at the colorful jewelry and the shiny jewelry.
I love how it changes with the times and trends, all jewelry from classic to basic to gems. As you notice, I am very shiny and not just with silver, mostly opals or gems.
That reflects years of being told, guys can't wear flowers, guys can't wear gems. Well, I was one of the people that said it, and then I was the first guy to get a flower.
I was like, “You know what? I'm putting flowers in my nose. Heck, yeah, I'm doing it”.
There is always learning. I'm still learning and that's what I love about it.
The best accident in the world happened to me.
I was a high school senior and all I wanted to do was hitchhike across the world.
I was pretty much a punk rock, dude. I thought, I’ve got $1000 that I saved up from working jobs and thought, I can live forever off this money. I'm 18 years old.
On my 18th birthday, I was going to receive a piercing in Grand Rapids. It was in an area I would not pierce myself because I didn’t want to mess something up and have issues for the rest of my life. So I said, let's go see a professional.
I asked the girl piercing me, “So how'd you get into this”? She tells me about apprenticeship. I thought, really? What, what does that entail? She tells me how you train with somebody, and at the time, it was like a couple of weeks.
Wow, that's amazing, I thought. So I ask, how much does something like that go for?
You see where this is going? She tells me, “Oh, it's $1000”.
A light bulb goes off in my head. And I’m like, “Oh, my God, when can I start”?
There wasn't even a question like asking, Can I do this? I was literally like, ‘When can I start”?
I have $1,000, let me go back to Saginaw, run back to Grand Rapids, and I'll be here tonight and we can start.
She was like, Oh, hold on, hold on. I’ve got to talk to my boss and figure all this out.
I showed up in Grand Rapids a couple weeks later with a tent and a sleeping bag. I was ready to camp out on cherry and division, it was closest to the studio.
She ended up letting me stay at her place with her boyfriend and kid. They took care of me for two weeks. I apprenticed down in Grand Rapids, and the rest is history.
I came back to Saginaw. I went to every studio around Saginaw, nobody wanted a piercer.
I went flyering telephone poles, handwriting business cards, and just handing it to anybody. Trying to save up money so I could build jewelry.
I kept going around to the studios and I went back to one and he was like, you know what, come in Monday, we'll talk about stuff.
That was Jason and he said, you can pay me a commission. Here's a room, here's an old dentist's chair, will that work for you? Yes, I said. It was amazing!
What I love about what I do is, it never gets old. It's the one thing in life that never quit. It never got boring. It was always there. I always enjoyed it. I love the changes and I love learning.
Every single person you meet is different. That helps, too. It's the people that are involved in it as well.
One thing I’ve learned, you can be doing the coolest stuff in the world, but without good people, it's nothing. It’s life. It’s everything. If you surround yourself with good people, you're gonna have good stuff.
Without the people in this business I know I wouldn't be the same.
I love the people I work with. I think they're the coolest people in the world. I rarely run into an asshole in my business. Thank you all so much for that because it's so cool.
It's like I get to work with The best people in Michigan, in the Tri Cities. It's amazing.
I think everybody has fueled this fire. I think that's what made it and that's what has kept me here.
One of the biggest questions I get asked is, why didn't you move out of Saginaw? Well, Saginaw is my home. This is my home. This is where I grew up. I love this area.
Being in business for 20-25 years you learn how to oil it well and make it run wonderfully. How to reinvest in it and how to keep it successful.
Clients now come in and they're like, I want you to curate my ear.
What we'll do is, take a look at their skin, we take a look at their jewelry and what they wear. We try to get an idea and then we'll piece together what we think will look great in their body and then make it all match, like you would with your clothes.
If you were going to somebody to get a suit- here put this tie on, this can be bomber. You look so dapper with this little chaining in here. It's literally the exact same thing.
We can curate anything. We have jewelry companies that if you want to pay the money, they'll make the piece of jewelry for you.
Things you wouldn't even think about are things that we have learned over the years on how to make your life easier.
What most people starting out in this business don't realize is, if you do crappy work, you're just screwing it up for everybody. What we have learned has really helped the industry and giving people successful piercings, also in turn helped the business.”
- James Raimar, Holeybody