A Coventry-based tattoo studio that launched during the pandemic is gearing up to re-open with a four-month long waiting list.
Tattooed Llama, which is based on Lockhurst Lane on the outskirts of the city, opened its doors in June 2020, but has been closed since November due to Covid-19, and is set to welcome back customers next month.
Despite the company being closed for around half of its life so far, the business’s leading tattoo artist, Dagmara Kokocinska, had built up such a strong reputation in her field that customers were travelling from as far as Oxford and Stoke-on-Trent for tattoos.
Alongside offering tattoos and aftercare advice, the studio is developing a community focus and also sells merchandise, art work and a range of clothing.
A little help from the Chamber Start-up team
The studio was attracting up to ten customers a day before having to shut in November, and ever since then, the business has been putting into practice the digital marketing advice that they have learned from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce to target current and potential customers, ready for their April 12 re-opening date.
The business was supported by the Chamber’s start-up team through the Coventry & Warwickshire Business Support Programme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Konstantin Patronov is Dagmara’s business partner, and is in charge of overseeing the commercial development of the company - and said the help had proved to be invaluable.
We had to adapt quickly to be able to survive as a business.
Konstantin said: “It has been a bitter sweet experience for us so far. We were building a strong client base in the four months we were allowed to open, but since November we have had to adapt quickly to be able to survive as a business.
“Government grants have played a key role in enabling us to stabilise until we can open, but the support that was provided by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce has also been vital in helping us to attract new bookings even though we have been unable to trade.
“The most important lesson that we have learned from the Chamber is that when it comes to social media, publishing quality posts over quantity achieves the best engagement.
“Tattoo artistry is very visual, so we tend to prioritise posting videos on Instagram of previous work and the colourful studio that operate from, which has the best engagement and is a powerful tool for helping us to attract future customers.
“Overall, working with the Chamber has also enabled us to focus on our longer-term growth by think outside of the box when it comes to promoting our business.
“The six tattoo artists that work in our studio are creative professionals first and foremost, and with Coventry becoming UK City of Culture in May, we are looking forward playing our role in showcasing the work that we do to people across the world.
“We also have two apprentices being mentored at our studio - as both myself and Dagmara want to be able to give people with a passion for tattoo artistry the chance to forge a career in the industry - and we remain committed to bringing through the next generation of tattoo artists.”
Hardeep Sandhu, of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, has assisted Tattooed Llama with workshops dedicated to Instagram, social media advertising and web development.
Raw ingredients for success
Hardeep said: “Dagmara’s creative expertise - coupled with the bright and colourful backdrop of their studio - have given this business the raw ingredients for success, and having a clear marketing plan in place will now enable them to realise their long-term potential.
“The business was already attracting customers from outside of the region within the first four months of opening, and posting impactful videos on their social media channels - combined with targeted social media advertising - will help to accelerate future demand.
“As Coventry enters its year as UK City of Culture, it will be great to see more and more creative businesses being established in the city which will have a positive knock-on effect for the local economy.”
Martin Sutherland, Chief Executive of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “It is clear that City of Culture can inspire new start-up businesses across Coventry & Warwickshire, and for those businesses to be part of the economic legacy of 2021. If individuals have an idea that they want to explore, it is great that there is support available to them, from the Chamber and others, to turn it into a reality.”
For further information about Tattooed Llama visit www.tattooedllama.co.uk
Are you eligible for StartUp Business Support?
The Chamber has a range of start-up workshops to support people to build sustainable businesses. For more information or to book click here.