WHAT SHOULD YOU BUY?
The first contact your clients are going to have with you is looking at your stencil selection. Let's look at the worst-case scenario: you have ONE stencil design to offer. (I know, it's silly, but stay with me.) Let's say it's a dolphin. Dolphins are nice, the dolphin is popular, but . . . well, if all of your potential clients woke up this morning and said, "DANG! I want me a DOLPHIN TATTOO today!" you're in luck. But . . . that's not going to happen. Okay, let's have THREE stencil designs. Add a panda and a butterfly. You're definitely going to fulfill a few more client's tattoo dreams, but only a few. Now, if you add another handful of designs, you're going to start making a dent in what your clients might be looking for. But what if you only have cute little animals? The kiddies might be happy, but what about the teenagers? The parents? The GRANDPARENTS? (Yes, grandparents get tattoos, my 94-year-old grandmother got one from my daughter last summer!)
I've only been associated with the body art business for a few years. But I've been in the fair and event business since I was in high school. The businesses I've brought to these shows have always been very successful, and I chalk it up to three basic things: superior products, superior displays (more about that later), and HUGE selections of products. Regardless of what you think about stores like Walmart, the second thing after low prices that gets you through the door there is "THIS place has EVERYTHING!". The larger selection you carry, the more likely you are to have something for everyone.
Now, I'm not just trying to get you to buy more stuff. But let's do a little math here. Let's say you use 80 stencils a day, with an okay selection of designs. Then let's say you add 50% more designs to your usual selection. You now have a better selection, you have more clients finding designs that appeal to them, and you do 100 tattoos a day. Since you only needed 100 stencils, did you need 50% more stencils to sell only 20% more tattoos? Of course not. The idea is to purchase and have on hand slightly SMALLER amounts of MORE designs.
The other aspect of this idea is that even though you THINK you know what everyone in your part of the world wants, you're not always going to be right. Obviously, different types of events will dictate what you might want to offer, as will the ages that you can expect to be there. But I've done Hello Kittys at Scottish festivals, Batmans at princess parties, and Celtic crosses at rodeos. The upshot is: you never know. Of course, there are favorites that always do well, no matter where you are, and I'll make a few suggestions later. But take a chance here! Order a few designs that you're not familiar with, or that might even seem a little weird or risky.
By the way, don't let the larger stencils scare you. I was pleasantly surprised at how popular the "long" stencils became after I introduced them last year. Even with kids! Try a few.
Now, a list of my best sellers at events:
Girls under 10: Hello Kitty,Panda
Girls 11-14: Butterfly, Tink 1
Girls 15-18: Peace Sign, Hibiscus
Boys under 10: Optimus Prime, Batman
Boys 11-14: Punisher, Lip Print (really!)
Boys 15-18: Grenade, DC Shoes
Women 19-30: Hibiscus, Bunny
Women over 30: Love Kanji, Plumeria
Men 19-30: Superman, Triple XXX
Men over 30: Skull Dagger, Punisher