New York-based piercer Janeese Brooks was, like many people, inspired by her mother — specifically, the dread her mother felt around anything involving needles. That fear drove Brooks to develop a piercing technique to reduce the completely normal uneasiness many clients experience ahead of and during an appointment, whether it’s their first, second, or 10th time getting pierced. “Do everything you can to make people feel strong for how far they got [by making an appointment],” Brooks told herself. “Even coming in the door a lot of times, is an ordeal, especially for people and piercings.”
At Iris Piercing Studios in Brooklyn, New York, Brooks offers a “gentle” piercing method, as she calls it. It’s not a separate add-on service; compassionate treatment is central to everything she does. It’s built into all of her appointments, which keeps her clientele coming back for more.
Affirmations are shared throughout the piercing process to help console her clients as they experience pain and apprehension. You can even often hear Brooks telling them, “I love you” or “You are strong,” as she punctures their skin. If they’re used to the quick in-and-out environments of a tattoo shop or booth at the mall, some may find this unexpected and awkward. But Brooks’s priority is ensuring her clients’ comfort and emphasizing that she doesn’t intend to cause them pain. “I tell people [these affirmations] when they wince, cringe, or [show] other small [signs] of pain,” she says. “I like to reinforce the fact that I don’t like hurting anyone. I’m not here to hurt you, in fact, if I could do it all without any pain whatsoever I would.”
By sharing positive statements, Brooks also hopes to help those who have had negative and traumatic piercing experiences in the past heal — which is she says accounts for “so many” of her clients. By way of example, she mentions clients of color who were told their noses are too thick or big for a piercing or folks who dealt with inappropriate touching from a piercer while getting their nipples or belly button done. There are also clients whose apprehension simply stems from a technical piercing error, like the gun getting stuck. Hearing these stories in the past made her think, “How do we build a space where people are safe, all the way around?” Now, Brooks does her best to validate their experiences and build trust with them.