In the world of lobes, septums, traguses, and rooks, the name J. Colby Smith is as famous as his high profile clientele, a roster that includes Zoë Kravitz, Scarlett Johansson, and Emma Stone to name a few. Known for his delicate, featherlight aesthetic, the in-demand piercer has garnered a cultish following of editors, stylists, musicians, and actresses who seek him out as much for his trademark chain hoops and pixie-sized diamonds as for his deft placement and calming demeanor. It’s a laid-back vibe that is about to become chiller than ever thanks to the opening of his private Williamsburg studio, 108 Atelier, which became his official post last month.
The change is welcomed. Following his 11-year tenure at New York Adorned, Smith has forged out on his own, adopting a bicoastal lifestyle, flying between 108 (an auspicious number for him) and Lost Hills, his Los Angeles outpost, every two weeks. Now he sees 10 clients a day versus 35 to 40, allowing for more one-on-one time for consultations, collaboration, and browsing the collection of his handmade pieces (crafted in his workshop upstairs), and baubles designed by his talented friends including Merrel Westhoff of the Netherlands-based Monocrafft, whose collection launch he’s hosting this Saturday. For Smith, the opportunity to spend more time with his clients while offering them more privacy and ultra tailored treatments is a no-brainer. “I want piercings to be like a good haircut or like when you get your nails done right. You know it’s just this stupid little thing that makes you feel good about yourself,” says Smith.
It’s a personal philosophy further emphasized by the environment—a sun-soaked studio that’s above all things inviting, homey even. Pothos vines climb down from the ceiling amidst potted palms and cacti—adding to the cozy mystique. Drawings from friends line the walls, and a striking piece Smith dubbed “Raincloud, Stick” from his girlfriend, Schyler Gately, hangs directly over his piercing station.“I basically wanted a space that was an extension of my personality. I wanted it to almost feel like when you go over to somebody’s house and the first time you walk in the door you’re like—oh, do I take my shoes off?” If it weren’t for the medical table in the corner, you’d easily forget what you came for—his piercing needle. But Smith has a cure-all for that, too. “The whole secret to this is you’ve got to surrender to it. You have to make peace with it. It is what it is.” Maybe not as painless as a haircut, but, the euphoric feeling you have when greeting your new reflection in the mirror will have you coming back for more.