We had the good fortune of connecting with John Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John, what do you attribute your success to?
Trust. Trust in myself, my vision, my values, and my abilities. This trust, however, requires me to know what my limitations are. If I know what I’m not capable of, then I know where I need help. There are always people who know more than I do about things I need to know about, and people with skill sets I don’t have, but need nonetheless. I’ve got a vision for my business and where I’m taking it each year. This means having a plan, Executing that plan means setting a course but being flexible at the same time. The piercing industry is like a big wave and we have to ride it where it takes us, and it’s always in motion. I have to trust my ability to navigate a small business in an always evolving industry. Knowing that I can’t do it all I have to assemble a team of people who understand and share my vision. The best staff includes people who want to go where I’m taking the business and want to ride the same wave. But there’s also a very large amount of trustworthy business leaders, educators, and authors I admire and trust to help guide me. The counselors at the Small Business Development Center certainly know more than I do. If they didn’t I wouldn’t be taking their classes and seeking their counsel. If I knew more about business than Seth Godin, he’d be buying my books. I have yet to write a book. Operating a small business, especially one as dynamic as body piercing, requires trust in a lot of people and systems. It also requires each person in this chain to be trustworthy. Earning that trust starts with me. The moment my staff doubts my sincerity, our clients doubt there’s. When that’s lost we become just another body piercing studio. There are plenty of those out there. Our studio is quite a bit more unique.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Our approach to body piercing is simple and practical. Body piercing is an accessory to the fashion industry. When our clients visit we study their “look” closely. We examine how they wear their hair, what other jewelry and piercings they wear, what colors they wear, and everything else we can. Then we guide them in directions that seem most fitting. Where most piercers and studios are looking for that big sale or focusing on high volumes of sales. We’re the piercers who spend more time and work out plans to help clients reach their piercing goals, which always compliment their overall fashion sense. I’m most proud of the high level of involvement our staff has with the Association of Professional Piercers. The APP is an international health and safety association and throughout nearly nine years of business most of our staff have not only been members, but instructors and even members of the board of directors who serve three year terms and truly impact the entire piercing industry in very meaningful ways. There are two great factors that have lead me to my current place in the piercing industry. First, I had my first mentor in 1998 who served as a prefect role model for being a piercer and studio owner. Second, I possessed patience and persistence. I never rushed into things. Not my apprenticeship, not owning a studio. I took advantage of every opportunity I had and always evaluated what my next moves might be. Through this journey of personal and professional growth I’ve learned to trust the decisions I’ve made. I’m thorough in every process and decision, so when self doubt kicks in I’m able to trust the system I’ve created. Believing in the people I’ve brought in to work with me is part of that trust I have in myself. Our studio’s logo is the Calla Lily, this is a perennial flower that can bloom every year. New Flower is about growing and becoming beautiful only to grow and become beautiful again when the time is right.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m vegan and LA is one of the best food capitols in the world. If I was entertaining a friend we’d basically be on a food tour. There really isn’t anywhere in LA county where you can’t stumble upon great vegan eats. We’d start at Rahel’s in Little Ethiopia and then head down to Santa Ana to La Vegana Mexicana. I really do visiting the Arclight movie cinemas so we’ll have to stop for a real LA movie experience.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Author Seth Godin wrote “The Dip” to inspire people to stop doing the things that don’t work. He teaches us that winners are people who quit all the time. They quit doing things that don’t work. He also wrote “Purple Cow” which teaches us the value of standing out. To succeed in business you need to prevent yourself from becoming background noise in your field. Anyone who hasn’t read any of his books should consider adding him to their library.