Metal Morphosis is a business that has been revolutionising the jewellery, body piercing and tattoo industry for over 30 years. Modern Retail had the pleasure of speaking with Ben Harris, Director of Metal Morphosis, on how to create a stand-out brand, build a following and outperform competitors.
Introducing Metal Morphosis
Metal Morphosis is a business that began in 1991. Spotting an opportunity, Ben’s father, who sold wigs and jewellery in East London Markets, and Ben’s Grandad, who was a pharmacist, realised there were not many piercing businesses around.
Combining their expertise, they launched a shop in Southend which took off so much that they went straight into Soho. 30 years later, they have taken piercing from back street to high street, creating an incredible customer base through their extensive knowledge, fantastic products and exciting brand.
Ben explained: “We’re a raw London brand at our core and we’re proud of that. We’ve been everywhere from Selfridges and Topshop, to festivals. It’s a real family business started by my Grandad and Dad. I’ve been involved in the business for 11 years and have been involved in moving it into the concession world and figuring out how we can be more sustainable and appeal to different audiences.”
Having a purpose
Metal Morphosis stands for unafraid self identity, expression and exploration, selling jewellery that is built to last, withstand and shine – just like the people that wear their pieces and visit their studios. Their mission is to help people feel more like themselves, with only the highest quality jewellery.
Ben said: “We get customers that like to express themselves. For us, it’s more important than ever before to support them. We have partnered with Stonewall and it is a privilege to support the LGBTQ+ community as a business owner. So much of what we do is about expression and self-expression.
“What separates us from competitors is that we want to do things correctly. We share technical insights with customers, all our products are made from quality, high grade materials and they will never leave your ears green or mankey. Education is key, as many others have set a standard for sub-standard jewellery, due to a lack of understanding.”
First-class service and products
Metal Morphosis set the standard for piercing and tattoos, making sure they offer a clean, discrete and professional service, while making sure their jewellery is affordable and made from high grade metals. Due to the high standards set by the team at Metal Morphosis, they have become influential in creating benchmarks, with Westminster Council and London councils asking them for advice when setting industry standards.
“The quality of jewellery is incredibly important to us and we want it to be kind to our customers’ bodies. We are so passionate about our jewellery because it is sweat-proof, non-tarnishing, hypoallergenic and long-lasting. A lot of brands will have small print telling you to take your jewellery off in the shower or to not wear it in the sea. But you don’t want to have to take your jewellery off, so we focused on working in the right way and using the right materials, which has given us a credible stand point and makes customers come back time and time again.”
Launching an ecommerce side to the business
The pandemic meant that Metal Morphosis adapted and began to put their jewellery online. What began as an idea to keep business open during the pandemic has proven to be a valuable method of working, bringing new benefits to customers.
Ben said: “As a piercing services business, Metal Morphosis has always had a physical store presence, but when lockdown happened, this wasn’t possible. We knew things would eventually go back to normal, but we needed to transition for the lockdown time. We put our jewellery online and found there is a lot of synergy between instore and online. People can view and buy online and then get it fitted instore, or choose to come and see it instore.”
A sustainable approach to retail
As well as offering products that last, Metal Morphosis uses eco-friendly packaging, looking to have a positive impact on the planet as well as their customers.
Ben explained: “Transitioning the business in lockdown from a services-based business to an ecommerce business meant we spent a lot of time researching to find out the industry standards, in regards to a sustainable supply chain. We partnered with a packaging company to make sure it is eco-friendly and can be recycled. The cotton jewellery pouches, for example, are made in a way that prevents contributions to pollution. By the end of the year, we are looking to replace all plastic with biodegradable alternatives. It’s a challenge to find a happy medium with price and being eco-friendly, but our ecommerce side allowed us to order larger quantities, which enabled us to do this. We make sure that an increase in order size of products doesn’t equal an increase in the damage we cause to the environment. For example, we have chosen a reputable supplier that is very transparent with us and is eco-conscious. They have installed solar panels on their factory roof and use these to reduce their carbon footprint.
“We are also sustainable in the way that our jewellery is made at Metal Morphosis, because it is made from strong, surgical steel, solid gold and titanium, which means it is built to last and doesn’t need re-purchasing regularly like other types of jewellery. We are working closely with our suppliers to improve this every day, looking at small things such as the ways that we can transport our goods in a greener way and finding a UK supplier to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Creating a community through social media
The way that Metal Morphosis works makes them much more than just a retailer. They use social media to communicate directly with customers, supporting them on their journeys.
Ben spoke about the ways that they use social media to enhance every customer’s experience: “Social media is a tool that allows us to reach out to our customers and it’s a huge part of what makes us who we are. Customers can speak to our piercers online with any technical questions they have. For us, it’s not just about the sale, but nurturing and reassuring the customer throughout the healing process. We’re really excited that as well as Instagram, we’re doing well on TikTok and we’re proud to be using it as a platform to educate. We talk about the types of piercing and use these platforms to engage with our audience. It helps us to maintain our fun brand image while being educational. With our medical and piercing background, we are proud to keep in regular contact with our customers, even sending emails out following piercings. Customers regularly tag us in pictures of their piercings and tattoos and they give us great reviews.”
How to build a loyal retail following
Ben gives his top tips for any retailer that wants to grow a loyal following.
- Being honest
“The first thing is to be honest and upfront with people, so they know what they’re buying before they spend their money. We aim to be a brand that doesn’t need small print, being transparent and truthful with our customers.”
- Care after the sale
“Make sure you nurture your customers through the process. Our customers are reassured that we look after them, not just at the piercing point, but before, during and throughout the aftercare. We do online consultations, so we build constant communication with our customers.”
- Utilise social media
“You need a strong social presence that helps you to be available to customers at any point. For us, it’s a great way to communicate with a wider demographic. We have the mums and older demographic predominantly on Facebook, then use Snapchat and TikTok for our younger customers, so we can educate them in the ways that they like.”
What’s next for Metal Morphosis?
Metal Morphosis will be launching a new site in Carnaby Street in September, as well as looking to open more sites in the future. To keep up to date with their latest news, head over to their website or follow them on Instagram.
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail’s Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today’s ever-changing market.