Interview with Cody Vaughn

I have been around the industry for a while and yet I just had my first face to face Cody Vaughn this past year at our annual Association of Professional Piercers conference. With one nipple grab we were instant buds. 

I have watched Cody and his online activity over the last two years and he puts in a lot of work when he's not busy being awesome. He volunteers with the Association of Professional Piercers to help better our industry as a whole and most recently he has opened his own studio called Vaughn Body Arts in Monterey California. I watch his personal social media sharing pretty close and it is certainly changing my own look at social networking within our industry. 

So what a better time for us to get Cody with fresh eyes on a sometimes hard industry to talk piercing as a whole and how it is in the Monterey area.


Chris Jennell: How long ago did you get your start in this industry? 

Cody Vaugh: I began my apprenticeship in 2004.

CJ: How was your beginning, did you have a proper apprenticeship?

CV: The nice thing about my apprenticeship was it was lengthy. It wasn't until two years of near constant supervision that my mentor told me she felt I was ready to be on my own.

While I'm very thankful for my apprenticeship, my mentor hadn't expanded on her piercing education since the late 90's. I'd say she was a good piercer and knowledgeable for what we as an industry were doing up until about 1997.  

In the beginning, I didn't network with other piercers in the community so I was guilty of being in my own little bubble and didn't realizing anything was wrong with the things I was taught. Fortunately, I started networking with other piercers on IAM and with other students and the instructors I met after attending The Fakir Intensives. That's when I realized I had a lot more to learn.

CJ: You recently opened your own studio, care to give a shameless plug and tell us all about it?

CV: Don't mind at all! On April 27th, 2013 I opened my studio, Vaughn Body Arts in Monterey, CA. It is the only studio in Monterey County dedicated exclusively to body piercing and the highest quality jewelry.

Deciding to open my own studio was the most exciting and equally terrifying thing I've ever done in my career.

I figured so long as I could stay busy enough to cover rent and my jewelry invoices, I'd be satisfied. Fortunately my clients from over the years have been incredibly supportive, so things are going far better than I could have hoped for.

CJ:Being in a smaller community do you find there is a difference from those in larger demographics?

CV: My community used to feel a lot smaller. Little things like heart shaped jewelry for daith and orbital piercings seemed like a brand new thing to my clients, even though they had been around for some time. Lots of piercings were "brand new" to them. I do have to say that thanks largely in part to The APP's (Association of Professional Piercers) push on the social media pages there has been a noticeable impact, even in my little town. Clients are constantly coming in because of piecing and jewelry pictures they have seen posted online that they never would've have known about just a few years ago.  

I'd say my studio is "medium" volume at best. We're definitely not pushing 30-40 piercings a day. I've worked in busier studios in larger cities and it was certainly a lot of fun to do a lot of piercings, but I disliked the feeling of being rushed from one client to the next. I really enjoy a slower pace where I can converse and get to know my clients a bit better.

CJ: Do you find that trends to be different in your area than those in larger areas across the country? 

CV: The same piercing trends that others see seem to hit our area shortly thereafter. When surface anchors took off in 2007, everybody in Monterey had to have them. When other piercers started talking about the sudden craze for triple forward helix piercings, I was getting the requests within weeks. Again, I thank the power of social media. It has been a real game changer for body piercing.

CJ: You are a parent, do you find that this is brought into the way you work or interact with your clients?

CV: It definitely does. It's really nice to talk to clients who have children as it gives us something in common that we can talk about. Parents bringing their children in seem to be a little bit more at ease to find out I have a daughter as well.

I was working two full time jobs for about ten years. One of the reasons I decided to open my own studio was so I could spend more time with my daughter. Being a parent has helped me keep focus on what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.

CJ: I've seen how active you are on social media sites. You capture a wonderful personal feel to the posts you make. What is your goal with each of your posts?

CV: From a business standpoint, my goal is exposure to potential clients and trying my best to educate about them about quality jewelry and safe piercing.

From a personal standpoint, I really like putting my clients and their piercings up front and giving them a big "thank you" that everyone can see. I try to show them I really appreciate them allowing me to pierce them or sell them new jewelry, and I think they like to be in the spotlight and see the positive comments, likes and re-blogs.

CJ: You do a whole lot more outside of being a parent, owning a studio and piercing full time. Care to tell us all about your other positions within our industry?

CV: I work as an instructor for The Fakir Intensives, which is something I'm very proud of. Having one of our industry's pioneers as your boss is pretty humbling. And I also get to work with some really amazing instructors whom I am constantly learning from.

I also do volunteer work with The APP (Association of Professional Piercers). I'm currently the chair for The Membership Committee and volunteer with The Outreach Committee and The Social Media Sub-Committee. Ryan Ouellette and I run The APP tumblr page, which is a lot of fun.

Besides doing my best to be a good Dad, I don't do much else that isn't related to piercing. I really love being a part of this community and try to contribute as best I can.  

CJ: With our industry continually changing, for what looks like the better, what things do you see happening in our industry over the next 5 years?

CV: I think we're going to start seeing more and more educated clients. It seems likely we're slowly moving towards the good quality jewelry company's becoming more of a household name and more clients are asking for it.

I think it's wonderful to see the difference that has been made with all of us posting more frequently on social media sites to show the public how good piercings can look when done properly.

CJ: What would you tell those aspiring to become a piercer?

CV: Leave your ego behind, be prepared for a lot of hard work, you'll probably need to move around the country several times, it will likely take forever for you to find a good apprenticeship, do it right or don't do it at all. Most of us don't make a lot of money doing what we do, but we do it because we genuinely love it.

Chris Jennell: Is there anything you'd like to add?

Cody Vaughn: I love you.

I really want to thank Cody for taking the time out his 48 hour work days to answer all my questions. If you are in the Monterey California area, I urge you to take the time out of your trip and stop by his studio. 

I am still working on the next interview to share with you. In the mean time I urge you to email any questions, suggestions or even dislikes to 

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