New Ecclesall tattoo and piercing business is a dream come true for owners

The opening of a new tattoo and piercing business in Eccleshall is something of a dream come true for owners Kathryn McColley-Brookes and Rob Donachie.

The couple, who have two young children, both took a risk, giving up their jobs to pursue their ambition to run their own business.

The Black Sage Gallery at 31 High Street in Eccleshall was officially opened on March 16 by Stafford Chamber of Commerce president, Martin Lennon.

Kathryn said: “The idea of ​​The Black Sage Gallery started during lockdown. With two young children to look after and a mortgage to pay, we wanted a new way to provide for our family.

“We are both creative, hardworking, and ambitious but didn’t feel fulfilled in our careers. I have worked in the NHS as a healthcare assistant since the age of 19, often working long unsociable shifts.

“Although enjoyable, it wasn’t family-friendly. So after the first lockdown I trained as a piercer. With my hospital background, handling needles is second nature to me!

“Rob has worked as a tattoo artist for almost a decade. For him, owning his own tattoo studio has always been a dream and after spending a lot of time at home during the lockdowns, we decided to make this dream a reality.

“We both left our jobs at another studio to make this happen. We have survived on minimal income for several months, but our dream kept us going. It hasn’t been an easy process, but we made it.”

Luckily, Kathryn and Rob came across the help available via the Growth Hub and Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce. They were matched with start-up advisor Aly Davidson, who guided them through the process of turning an idea into a business and also helped them access finance.

Kathryn explained: “I can honestly say that without Aly and the help of Staffordshire Chambers, our business would have failed before it had even begun. I didn’t have a clue where to start with a business plan let alone things like cash flow forecast, customer profiling and marketing.

“We realised that the process was far from easy and you need to put in the preparation and planning. Every minute we poured into the Staffordshire Start-Ups training and learning built the knowledge we needed to help us towards our goal, with Aly’s coaching of course.

“This knowledge also helped us access the funding. The British Business Bank rightly needed to know absolutely everything about our business. They really grilled us before they even contemplated handing over the Start Up Loan.

“I am sure they would have laughed us away if we’d applied on our own. Instead, our application was classed as ‘outstanding’, according to the bank’s business advisor. Aly also pointed us toward a council grant and loan, neither of which we had any prior knowledge of.

“The hard work has paid off and we have also had great support from other businesses in Eccleshall. We’ve used local businesses as suppliers wherever possible.

“Butterley Barn interiors have fitted our window and door shutters and supplied us with the paint and wallpaper, and we purchased prints from Bramble Lane Interiors and flyers and business cards from Creative Bee, Liz at Simply Scrumptious Cupcakes kindly made the cupcakes for our opening event too.”

Aly added: “Kathryn and Rob are so enthusiastic and passionate about their business and determined to succeed. I can teach all the skills you need to run a business, but no one can teach passion, enthusiasm, and determination. They have a fabulous business and I have no doubt whatsoever that they will be successful.”

Kathryn concluded: “We had the idea to start The Black Sage Gallery, we had the passion and the drive but just didn’t know where to start. And that’s where Aly came in… as our fairy godmother.”

If you are thinking of starting a business and would like to discuss your plans, contact or call 01782 202222.

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