The first time I saw the building that has become South Coast Ink, I was dubious as to whether they would ever finish in time.
It was a week before their launch night on the 19th December and their multi-skilled tattooist Rob hurriedly wallpapered what was to become the barber shop, as others busied themselves with paperwork and finishing touches to make sure everything was as perfect as it could be for the opening night.
“The launch night was great” said Jamie Gleeson, one third of the brains behind South Coast and a self proclaimed Beckham impersonator. “It was stressful but it went really well.”
When you realise the space was originally an indoor golfing centre it makes the transformation that extra bit more satisfying.
Self-described as ‘Bournemouth’s freshest tattoo studio’, South Coast Ink Superstudio has itself a selling point unlike any other. Located on Yelverton Road in Bournemouth town centre, tattoos are just the beginning of the menagerie of services South Coast provides.
Thirty-year-old Jamie is a footballer for Dorchester Town and has charm and charisma to boot.
He carries himself in a professional manner and talking to him is smooth sailing with his passion for the business shining through at every available opportunity. “I enjoy going to work and I’ve always wanted to do something different” he said, “I like being here as much as I like being at home.”
According to Jamie, profit is not their first objective. He said:“Even if we’re not taking money at first I want to put everything back into the business to make it dead right.”
Alongside this customer friendly atmosphere however, you can tell that their business heads are well and truly screwed on. Jamie knows how to sell the shop, and himself, with minimal effort, having me convinced the Superstudio will be a success within the first five minutes of our interview. Apparently tough love and charm gets you everywhere in this business. “We’re not worried about what other businesses are doing, we’re worried about what we are doing.”
Having been open a month, Jamie commented on the feedback for the place being totally positive. “The feedback has been great and we know we have a good product here, we just need to get people through the doors.”
Working alongside Jamie is Jay Austin, whose eccentric fashion sense makes him stand out from the crowd. Jay is also the original brains behind the Superstudio brand.
The trio are completed by Valdon Jajrizaj who, according to Jamie, has been an asset throughout: “Val’s been our rock and he backs up everything we want to do.”
Seemingly, they make the perfect team. “We’re so passionate about it” said Jamie. “Jay, Val and myself argue every day but we’re so passionate about it you can’t take things to heart.”
From teeth whitening to haircuts, makeovers to piercings, South Coast boast a variety of skills and professions under one roof. With eight members of staff including barbers and apprentice tattooists the studio is spreading its wings in every direction after being open for only a month. “You walk 15 feet and you can get to the next area… There’s not many things you can’t get done.”
The buzzing of sheers and chatter fill my ears before I can even begin to take in just how clean cut the shop now looks.
It is a pristine black and gold paradise and I am later informed the decor came from the mind of Jamie, who is also a David Beckham lookalike and dyslexic; something he believes helped him achieve the final outcome.
“Dyslexics see the picture before it’s there. I’m not much good at many things but I can see potential.”
It’s not all been plain sailing for the trio and they’re still finding their feet in such a busy market, “It’s not all been dandy, we have had some teething problems but we support each other all the way.”
You are greeted with friendly smiles and an air of excitement hits you almost immediately.
I am very aware that the customer always comes first, hearing staff laughing and joking with two new customers, building a rapport faster than I have ever witnessed yet still paying attention to their wants and needs.
“I don’t want anyone to feel out of their depth. I hate cliques. I’m willing for a homeless man or a business man to walk in here, we welcome everyone.”
The first floor, complete with a chill out corner for customers to kick back with a game of FIFA whilst wait for their appointments, is dedicated to a variety of apparel from up and coming clothes brands including Vain Train and No I.D.
“On Sundays we do a FIFA tournament with a £5 entry and the winner gets a £50 clothes or tattoo voucher.”
The clothes in question are from independent brands who Jay thinks have potential to become bigger in the future. Connections are always a wonderful thing to have in business and this was immediately apparent when Jamie noted that Calum Best, a friend of the studios and noted reality star, entered the Big Brother house wearing shoes from Goodwin Smith, one of the brand’s South Coast stocks.
I feel like I could be in Aladdin’s cave exploring the downstairs of the studio. There are two tattoo studios, a barbering area and tucked away out the back is a room for all your beauty needs.
All look as slick and crisp as the accompanying upstairs.
Speaking with apprentice tattooist Cameron he talks with such love for the studio, mentioning he has been working on the pointillism piece he is currently drawing for just under four hours.
The tattooing aspect of South Coast is the one that was mentioned the most throughout my time there, although it always reverted back to having time for the customer.
“We have so much room we can have tattoo consultations and sit people down with the apprentices for an hour and a half just working on the designs and making sure it’s dead right for you.
“We spend a lot of time with the customer and look after people.” Their tattooing areas are impressive with modern decor and elegant finishings that would make any visit a pleasure. The South Coast Ink branded wallpaper was a choice that came from Jay
Alongside the tattooing stations, resident barber Djamel Meddah got to work putting the finishing touches to a sleek short back and side’s haircut.
There are two barbers at the shop with the other being Rachel, who also specialises in male grooming, offering mini facials and hot cloth shaves. Jamie explained to me about how flawlessly the barbers play off one another. “We have such skilled staff. Anything is possible.”
During my time at the studio I noticed Jay running back and forth, working on a variety of tasks for the studio.
His background in working in a variety of industries, including experience in other tattoo shops, puts him in good stead to make this business a success.
Paired with the fire within each of them there is potential and enthusiasm pouring from every area of the studio.
Each one of them brings a different sense of style and business idea to the table. From Jamie’s get up and go attitude, Jay’s social media networking skills and Val’s connections in London, Jamie describes them as the perfect business partners.
All of them succeeded in making the shop a positive place to be with a ‘customer comes first’ attitude. “We just want it to be a relaxed place. You shouldn’t feel obliged to buy something straight away.”
With such a varied catalogue of colleagues, services and business minds collated in one area, I wondered what would be the next step for the high flying trio. “We’re not going to run before we can walk.
“We want this to get to a level where it is flying. Maybe we will open another one in another area. The bigger goal is a franchise.
“The sky’s the limit but it won’t happen overnight.”