This may seem like an arbitrary list but it’s not: malls, tattoo parlors, Claire’s, jewelry stores, pediatrician’s offices, or friends’ homes. These are the most common places where people get pierced. Rowan is on a mission to elevate this experience with its state-of-the-art ear-piercing studios and direct-to-consumer jewelry line. All piercings are performed by licensed nurses at one of two studios (UES and Westport, CT) or in 250 Target locations nationwide. Next month, the company will open a new studio in Denver with more locations launching soon (Miami and Atlanta). The cost at the New York studio is $35 for one piercing or $50 for two piercings plus the cost of the piercing stud, which ranges from $40-60 per pair. Since its founding in 2018, the company has completed 150,000 piercings.
AlleyWatch caught up with Rowan CEO and Founder Louisa Serene Schneider to learn more about her inspiration for the business, the company’s strategic plans, latest round of funding, which brings the total funding raised to $24, and much, much more.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Rowan’s $20M Series B was led by VMG Partners with additional notable investors including Thirty Five Ventures, TABLE Management, Beechwood Capital, Silas Capital, and Goldcrest Capital.
Tell us about the product or service that Rowan offers.
Rowan offers piercings by licensed nurses and exclusive nickel-free jewelry made for freshly pierced ears. We aim to honor piercing as an important milestone and deliver a safe and positive outcome for all.
What inspired the start of Rowan?
I was looking for a safe yet fun piercing experience for my daughter. The mall felt tired and unsafe, while getting pierced by our pediatrician didn’t offer the celebratory experience I was hoping for. It made me realize that the ear-piercing market was long overdue for modernization. So in 2018, we launched Rowan, a company with the intention to celebrate all the special, unique, and sparkly moments of life!
There are many reasons why we stand out amongst competitors – licensed nurses, nickel-free jewelry, piercings offered in-store or at-home – but the key factor that sets us apart is our mission to empower and build self-confidence through a safe experience, self-expression, and community.
What market does Rowan target and how big is it?
Rowan is for anyone – regardless of age, gender, background, culture – who wants a safe and modernized ear-piercing experience, and sees it as a powerful and symbolic milestone in their life.
What’s your business model?
With Rowan, anyone can come into one of our studios (NY and CT), one of our Target locations (over 250), or have their piercing done at home, with all options offering piercings conducted by a licensed nurse and our exclusive nickel-free jewelry. After that, customers can purchase additional hypoallergenic jewelry pieces on our site or at any of our locations.
What are your post-COVID office plans?
We are finding that in-person work and being together is something we all crave. We’ve been fortunate to have access to WeWork and are meeting several times a month. We may formalize an office space in the next quarter. While working in an office together is certainly something we will pursue, we will continue to embrace working remotely and have a good number of core team members who live outside of the tri-state area. I do not anticipate ever going back to five days in an office for our team.
What was the funding process like?
We were truly lucky during the raise process, all our investors are incredible and there’s no doubt in our minds that they all believe in what we’re trying to achieve with Rowan. Our lead investor, VMG Partners, has particularly been a huge resource for us and a true partner as we’ve navigated the closing of this round.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
For me, the biggest challenge was getting investors to continue to listen after I said “ear piercing”. The very reason such a massive opportunity existed is that no one wanted to consider it!
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
In addition to creating more access to safe piercings for consumers, I think one of the key appeals of our business model is our mission and ability to create additional job opportunities for licensed nurses across the country. Throughout the pandemic, Rowan has prioritized nurses by providing rewarding work in a safe and stable environment.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
With this capital, we’re immediately looking to hire additional nurses and build our product assortment of hypoallergenic jewelry. We are also opening additional Rowan studios across the country.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Focus on unit economics and hire people who can wear many hats. Be wary of contractors or others who won’t give you insight into their process. Keep going!
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Next, we’re looking to expand Rowan’s brick-and-mortar footprint, with locations in Miami, Denver, and Atlanta expected by the end of Q1 2022.
What’s your favorite outdoor dining restaurant in NYC
Cafe Gitane – for decades!