Estimatedly, there were just about 5,000 tattoo parlours in the country a decade ago, which grew to 14,000 by 2012 and at present its craze is gripping the nation.
While turning his passion for scribbling and sketching random designs into well-paid profession, celebrity tattoo artist Vikas Malani haven’t thought of inking temporary tattoos on ‘Bollywood’s Mr. Perfectnist’ for one his most talked about movie- Dhoom 3 in 2013. Trained under incredibly talented foreign artists, Malani has recently forayed into overseas market with his first outlet in London, run and looked after by his younger brother Micky Malani.
With his determined goal, great value system, sheer hand work and extensive support of his mother, what started as a basic interest in body art, eventually turned into owning, one of the biggest commercial tattoo parlors in Mumbai on the name of – Body Canvas. At present, Malani is successfully running 4 studios in Mumbai, 1 in Delhi and 1 in London (UK).
WI Bureau talked to Malani who is currently working hard in shaping his London venture into a grand success, while eyeing on USA market to open his next studio.
Inception & inspiration
I started initially with body painting in 1998 and gradually started professional tattoo inking in 2003. My mother is my inspiration. She always said do what you love and love what you do. Take a job where you feel passionate and enjoy living it as an essential part of your life.
Indians are blessed to have Maa (mother) and Cine-Maa (Movies). Like every Indian, my upbringing too was highly inspired by my mom and the glitz n glamour of filmy duniya i.e. Bollywood. It always fascinated me since my childhood. I feel proud when a big personality who is considered as an inspiration to millions of fans, chooses me and that too because of my sheer talent and work.
Big starry ventures:
About Body Canvas
Bodycanvas is a boot strapped venture. The capital investment was made by me, working in the nights at a UK-based Pharma company. There has never been a godfather for Bodycanvas. It’s my sheer hard work and my younger brother Micky Malani’s unconditional support as he used to ink tattoos when I was working to collect funds for my venture.
Expansion in overseas
We have three studios in Mumbai, two in New Delhi and very soon starting one in London. Our expectation from overseas market is definitely high as it will help us grow, set records and enhance knowledge. By having a branch in London will help in filling the gap and enhance our talent and art.
Area of focus
Tattoo is a product that a person carries with himself in his life as his identity. Tattooing in India can be traced back to over a centuries. It had been a part of our culture and rituals, especially in the tribal communities. It just got evolved over the years to a more urbanized culture. We often come across many elders who got inked to mark their love for their new born.
Our prime focus is on hygiene, quality, design innovation and most importantly, meeting the consumer’s requirements. Customer satisfaction is of utmost importance to us and we provide that in a relaxed, stress free environment. Our pricing, therefore, is based on all these factors, ensuring we are not only catering to the Section A. Yet, we are able to deliver a quality product. We thoroughly believe a tattoo is for everyone.
Pricing strategy for London
Tattoos outside India are very expensive. However, it is also way more popular than in India, at present. Our London studio would definitely carry an element of ethnicity blending with a fresh take. AtithiDevoBhava (Guests are god) is going to be our motto in abroad. Every person coming to our studio would definitely get the vibe of Indian hospitality.
Over the years, we received tremendous positive feedbacks from our International clients. Building on those experiences and keeping in line with the key factors like hygiene, quality, innovation, technique and of course hospitality, we would decide on our pricing strategy. We would be introducing a very competitive price point for our customers and customer loyalty would be incorporated as well for discounting purposes.
Marketing strategy for overseas market
Every business needs a marketing plan and a strategy. Over the years, we have dealt with a lot of international clients who had gotten themselves all types of tattoos from our studios in India. Before we ink a tattoo, we try to understand the customer, their background, and much more. We develop a special relationship with our customer, and this is the biggest reason behind our growth and success nationally which helped us gain popularity among our customers in overseas. At present, we may not understand what the other tattoo studios may be doing across the United Kingdom. However, we definitely know what we need to do.
We understand the conflict that goes in a consumer’s mind before getting inked. Very rarely people are sure of what they want, but most often, the mental picture is quite ambiguous. When a customer is visiting our studio, it is our responsibility to live upto their trust and expectation and hence, we go through all the talks and sessions, understanding and inking the tattoo.
I can proudly say that we are not in the business of selling tattoos, we are in the business of creating happiness in the minds of our customers. Our focus on numbers vis-a-vis customer satisfaction would be in the ratio of 4:10. Saying that, we do have our operating costs, our talented team and their families to take care of, which is why we are currently working at an average price point of 1000 per sq inch. We may be slightly above the market rate at present, however, it is our job to ensure that the customer receives benefit and satisfaction of every penny he/she is spending. Our primary overheads include our focus on hygiene and daily needs such as needles and inks, which are procured from abroad and the ink we use are organic ones.
Challenges of tattoo business
The biggest challenges are street or amateur artist and lack of awareness among people. Wrong practicing is leading to bad and wrong impression about the whole tattoo industry. We, at Body Canvas, are conducting college and corporate workshops often, to guide and spread medical and technical complications of tattooing. In fact, today, Media (Television and online), social blogs, magazines and newspapers, are educating people in many ways, to remove the myths and be aware of the facts and the beauty of tattooing.
The starting price of machine used by us is between 300 pounds to max 1,000 pounds.
Average ticket size in Indian market
The average ticket size of our customers is between 2000 – 5000. On an average, we ink around 300 customers a month.
Since its inception, Bodycanvas has seen an incremental growth from 5 per cent a year to 30 per cent, at present. When we started, we used to operate from a smaller studio with about 10 customers a month. However, today, we run our operations from one of the best locations across the country. Next, we are looking at future growth of 35 per cent in next financial year.
Future expansion plans
We plan to have outlets in every Metro and Mini Metro in the coming years, as, we do see a great potential in the Indian market. The demand and awareness for tattoos is increasing even as we speak. Our biggest challenge is to provide the same quality and hospitality that Bodycanvas stands, across India as well as in global market. We do not differentiate on the basis of customer type, as, any person who wishes to get inked, is a valuable one.
Next focus in overseas market
Micky Malani, my brother and Co-founder of Body Canvas has started taking care of London outlet as a fulltime tattoo artist and we hope to cater to more cities like LA and New York in US.