Through the Chaos Find Empowerment and Control at IRIS Piercing Studio
IRIS Piercing Studio
2431 Highland Dr.
According to Manager Chelsie Ross and Owner Jesse Dobbs, IRIS Piercing is dedicated to making sure every person who walks through their doors feels comfortable and empowered. The studio aims to connect on a personal level with their clients by involving them in the creative process of figuring out jewelry and placement. They also want to ensure clients feel confident in both the piercing process when they come in and themselves when they leave. “Our mission has been to create a welcoming environment where all will feel excited and comfortable when getting pierced,” Dobbs says. “Piercing can be so simple and fun, but there are also tons of different options that can make every piercing new and exciting.”
Since their first establishment in Salt Lake 15 years ago, IRIS has expanded into five other cities in four different states, with shops in Denver, Boulder, Brooklyn, Chicago and Portland. As they’ve expanded, they’ve made sure to bring that personal touch along with them. “When there is a deeper connection to a city and the location of the studio, it makes the process really fun and fulfilling,” Dobbs says. Every new location that has been established was done so because an IRIS piercer either moved to the city or knew people that lived there, ensuring that the IRIS mentality would come along with them.
“I jumped on that opening so I could be a part of the team … It has been such a fun place to grow with.”
The expansions have provided the opportunity to explore and experience new cities for Ross. “I typically go work in each of the other locations a couple times a year, and it has been really cool to go explore other places [and] see what client styles are like, but I have SLC be my home base,” she says. Ross has been with the studio for ten years now, and in addition to managing, Ross herself is a piercer and helps with the training and development at their new locations. “I originally started out very part-time [as a Gallery Assistant], wanting to get the job in addition to the two other jobs I had at the time because I had always loved being in the studio,” Ross says. “I jumped on that opening so I could be a part of the team … It has been such a fun place to grow with.”
“It is something you can do to make yourself feel better, be it by altering your physical appearance in a way that you feel expresses you better or by feeling that sense of accomplishment by facing your fears and doing something that hurts a little bit.”
In addition to Ross, the Salt Lake City location has three other piercers, Carlos Duenas, Samantha Minh and Bailee Damons, along with one Gallery Assistant, Cristina Marie, who helps clients pick out the perfect pieces of jewelry for their piercings. In terms of their services, IRIS offers all types of piercings, from the standard ear piercings to ones more “under the belt,” as Ross put it. A customer can also buy jewelry without needing to get a piercing done at IRIS. Their gallery offers everything from the standard jewelry to designer pieces from Pupil Hall, Suzanne Kalan, Shiva Design and Jewels, Future Primitives and more.
All of these things add to the studios’ mission of making people comfortable because at IRIS, piercings are a form of self-care, according to Ross. With so many other things out of a person’s control, piercings act as a great way to take control of your own body. “It is something you can do to make yourself feel better,” says Ross, “be it by altering your physical appearance in a way that you feel expresses you better or by feeling that sense of accomplishment by facing your fears and doing something that hurts a little bit.”
Of course, as with most businesses, the pandemic has thrown a bit of a wrench in things. Right now, IRIS is not doing any piercings that require a client to remove their mask—which means no nostril piercings—and all piercings are by appointment only. Even with the restrictions on appointments and services, Ross says there has been an uptick in people using piercings as self-care since the pandemic started. They’ve seen both returning clients come back more frequently as well as an influx of completely new ones coming in. While this increase is great, according to Ross, it’s also important to let piercings take their time to heal. “We absolutely love seeing y’all back, but here is the gentle reminder that you don’t want to do things in quick succession; your body needs to heal,” she says.
“Getting pierced can be a little bit scary, but we are here to make it as quick and easy as possible while having a great time doing it.”
Along with making sure every client feels confident and in control, IRIS is also careful about making sure everything is done as safely as possible. “Getting pierced can be a little bit scary, but we are here to make it as quick and easy as possible while having a great time doing it,” Ross says. “We are excited about what we do, and we want you to be, too.” With the pandemic, that means not only safety with the piercing procedure but in terms of COVID-19 safety measures as well. When a client arrives for their appointment, they must complete a symptom screening and have their temperature taken at the door. IRIS has also added air filters in every room to ensure proper circulation and filtration.
IRIS doesn’t have any plans for future expansions right now, as they are focusing on trying to get through the year just like the rest of us. Though, Ross and Dobbs are hoping they will be able to get to all the nostril piercings soon. “I’m very excited to be able to help all those on our nose piercing waitlist,” Dobbs says. “It’ll be super fun and maybe we’ll do a nose event or something. Until then, we are just making the best of 2020!” Right now, appointments can be booked online at irispiercing.com.
As you make your visit to IRIS, be sure to check out their new mural, painted by local artist Shley.