Becoming Front of House
Co-Authored with Rob McConnel
Front of House is an incredibly important position in virtually any studio. In recent years, as studios have evolved I think it’s safe to say this position has experienced the most growth and change out of any role in the studio. To start- what exactly is front of house? Ten or twenty years ago it was a part time job for an apprentice, answering phones and sweeping. Now, it’s a fully fledged, crucial part of any studio system. Front of House are the bookends of a studio, the first person a client meets and the last one they see! They greet clients, get them checked in on paperwork, answer many questions, and help folks on the phone. FoH are also often jewelry specialists, they work with clients on selecting each piece for their piercings. Many of the beautiful ear curations in my portfolio were pierced by me, but designed and curated by my amazing FoH staff. In some studios FoH also handle ordering and designing jewelry and maintaining inventory. They sometimes give aftercare and assist clients with sizing and troubleshooting. They are photographers who take the beautiful pictures of piercings and jewelry you see online. They are social media managers, keeping instagram pages and websites alive with content! They answer messages, respond to emails, and are the face of a large amount of interaction with a studio. Hell in some situations FoH spends more time with clients then I do! This is a position someone can make a lifelong career out of, and the industry is in need of more quality, lifetime front of house folks for sure. Theres always been plenty of talk about tattoo artists and piercers and how to get started on that career path. But today, let’s talk about how to become front of house!
Previous Knowledge isn’t Required- but it Helps!
Looking at the massive amount of knowledge needed to be a successful front of house can be overwhelming. There’s hundreds of thousands of jewelry designs to know the names of, what piercings they can and can’t go in. And then there’s thousands more combination of gems and stones to know for each piece? And you need to take all this knowledge and give it to 14 clients at once while the phone is ringing. It’s a hard job, for sure. That being said no one expects you to come in with that knowledge- a good studio will take the time to train you and teach you everything you need to know. That being said when we look at candidates to hire, folks who have some baseline knowledge are absolutely preferred. It’s a lot to teach, and if I have to teach you less, that’s appealing. Some great avenues to get this knowledge would be reading through the APP website for information on jewelry standards and quality. Follow high quality brands online and pay attention to the pieces they post- and the names and the stones. Follow lots of good piercers and pay attention to the names of piercings and the jewelry. I always suggest folks join the ask a professional piercer group on Facebook and read the comments- there’s tons of great information about piercings and jewelry from some of the best minds in the industry. And check out different companies and manufactures websites- read about the company, and why they use the materials and stones and settings they do! And why it matters!
People Person Required
You will need to be a people person. As FoH your entire job is working with people all day long. In person, on the phone, and online. Often clients come in a bit nervous about their new piercing or tattoo, and a friendly warm face and interaction can instantly soothe their nerves. A skilled FoH can set the tune for someones entire experience in a studio- and someone cold or distant can set a bad tone. This doesn’t mean it’s a position only suited for extroverts- two of my current front of house are absolutely introverted and their human interaction battery is at 0 after a busy shift. But they also have an awesome ability to connect and communicate with others, and help people feel safe and comfortable. Some of this is a skill you will learn, but you need to come to the job ready and excited to interact with a whole slew of different people!
Extra Skills are a Plus
Modern FoH positions are a role with many hats. And if you are looking to make it as FoH having some background in some of these skills is a huge leg up when applying for work. Are you a photographer or do you work a camera well? That’s HUGE. Piercers and artists don’t always have time to take photos of their work, so FoH with skill behind the lens is amazing, and a photography background is a huge plus for me personally when I’m hiring. Are you skilled with social media? That’s awesome! Running a busy studios social media is a full time job all in its self, there’s always something to be posted or shared or messages to be answered. Skills with social media and content creation are super helpful. Other things like previous retail experience, skills with inventory management and stock, or even taking the time to take the APP Bloodbourne pathogens classes and being CPR and First Aid certified all look great when we are hiring for FoH.
Get Ready to Be a Parent
Spoiler alert- piercers and tattoo artists are giant weird fragile children. We are are often so focused on our work or what’s directly in front of us we would loose the glasses off our face if we didn’t have amazing FoH to rely on. On really busy or stressful days we lean heavily on our FoH as our first line of defense and organization with a packed lobby. FoH keeps things running smooth, juggles all the clients and the artists, and also makes sure we eat food, drink water, and remember to go to the bathroom. You aren’t just managing things down front with the clients, you are often a huge asset to artists and piercers in setting things up so we have time for breaks, cleaning tasks, or just a good deep breath.
Front of House is its own path
For many, front of house is just looked at as a stepping stone to piercing or tattooing. This is very incorrect and very belittling to the hundreds of amazing front of house in the industry who are front of house. Nothing else. At some studios working front of house for a length of time is a requirement for apprentices, but this doesn’t make it a gateway to an apprenticeship. FoH deserves to be viewed and respected as it’s own path and own vital part of the industry.