How Live By The Sword Evolved Its Businesses with Connected Tools

Business Overview

Rudy Temiz and Greg Ferreira own Live By The Sword, a New York City-based mini chain that offers tattoos, body piercings, and beauty salon services ranging from hair coloring to tooth gems. Live By The Sword began as a pop-up booth at an artists’ market. Eventually the booth started to gain more traction and Rudy and Greg made the decision to open a storefront. In 2017, the duo opened Live By The Sword Tattoo at the Mini Mall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The original space fit just two employees. Two years later, Rudy and Greg expanded the concept with the opening of their flagship tattoo and piercing shop in SoHo and Live By The Sword Salon. In 2021, the duo opened their Chelsea Market pop-up location exclusively for piercings.

Today, Rudy and Greg’s inaugural 200-square-foot shop has grown into a three-location business with more than 85 employees, featuring the 4,000-square-foot SoHo flagship.

The Challenge

Live By The Sword began using Square Reader and Square Point of Sale as soon as they opened the Mini Mall tattoo/piercing shop in 2017. Rudy and Greg operated the tattoo/piercing shop on a walk-ins-only model, so at the onset they weren’t in the market for tools beyond a POS system. But as LBTS expanded to open a beauty salon in 2019, their business needs evolved. The salon’s business was more appointments-driven and they needed to be able to accept bookings both on- and offline. 

As their business grew further to open a second tattoo shop, Rudy and Greg struggled to manage the growing walk-in traffic and daily customer flow across their three locations. Their shops could become inundated with customers or be empty at off-peak hours, leaving their staff looking for things to do. 

It was at this point that Covid-19 hit and the walk-in business waned. With the pandemic restrictions, the need for an online booking solution for the entire LBTS franchise became imperative. 

Get started with Square Appointments.

Accepts payments and bookings with the all-in-one scheduling solution from Square.

The Solution: Square Appointments

Square Appointments gave Rudy and Greg the scheduling solution that they needed and integrated seamlessly with Square and third-party tools like QuickBooks that they were already using. Live By The Sword Salon was the first to adopt Square Appointments, and eventually the tattoo and piercing shops followed suit. An appointments system would allow LBTS customers to book their own appointments online or in person and help Rudy and Greg staff their shops appropriately. 

Before online booking was available, Live By The Sword customers walked into the shop and were added to a pen and paper calendar. Today, the Live By The Sword customer journey starts with online booking available 24/7. The customer can book a service at their desired location and Live By The Sword receives all of the details on their POS system. 

Once the appointment details are set, an AI-powered messaging tool called Square Assistant automates appointments-related communication between the LBTS staff and clients via text message. Square Dashboard and the Square Appointments mobile app also allow staff to directly message customers to confirm appointments, discuss service, or send reminders to their clients — automatically or manually. Tools like these save the tattoo/piercing artists and salon stylists’ time and allow them to focus on their craft. For example, if a customer books an appointment and a Live By The Sword team member recommends more time for the service than what was initially booked, those adjustments can be made in Square Appointments without friction. 

“Square Appointments is fully integrated into our point-of-sale and checkout system. We have one screen that makes it possible to visually see our appointments, check out our walk-ins, and check out those appointments. So from one tool and one screen, our staff members are easily able to process transactions without much need for training.”

Square Appointments gives Rudy and Greg clear visibility into multiple staff calendars for multiple locations, allowing them to manage customer flow, optimize staffing, and empower their staff to view and manage their own schedules with flexibility. They are also able to visualize a clear path to growth through various reports available on Square Dashboard. This data is easily exportable for accounting purposes with the Square and Quickbooks integration

“When you’re working as an artist, or a tattooer, or a piercer, you don’t always know how much you’re going to earn in a given month, but this gives you some security as to, okay, it’s looking okay. This day looks okay. This week looks good, or whatever else, or I have to do some more marketing. I have to reach out to my clients, and I have to fill in my days.”

Square Appointments is just one of the tools within the greater Square ecosystem that Live By The Sword has implemented. In addition to Appointments, see what else Rudy and Greg use:

  • Rudy and Greg leverage Square Marketing to speak to customers about twice a month. With Square Marketing, they send out emails about promotions or the latest on what’s happening at LBTS. Square also offers visibility into those email campaigns, such as email opens and clicks, as well as how many sales (gross and net) were made from those campaigns. 

  • Square Loyalty powers Sword Rewards, a program that lets clients earn a $10 bonus to spend in-store for every $100 they spend at any of their locations. “This sets us apart from many of our competitors because of the breadth of products and services that we offer. And this brings our customers into our ecosystem and makes them loyal customers.”

  • Because Square Payroll is integrated into the POS system, LBTS is able to capture employee information, sales, and tips/commission all in one place. “This makes it easier for us to process payroll in shorter amounts of time, without using a third-party payroll provider … It also gives us commission reporting and sales reporting so we can quickly figure out what all of our practitioners earned in a given pay period as opposed to using multiple platforms to get that information and to make those calculations. So, everything is within the Square platform, no need for Excel, no need to do anything else out of Square, and no need to integrate a third-party product.”

  • Square Appointments on Square Terminal helps team members track every piece of information on a client so they can provide the best customer experience possible. It also empowers every member of the team to check out customers right from the palm of their hands, at their chairs and stations.

  • Afterpay is the buy now, pay later solution that they offer in-store across all of their locations. “The more ways we can give people to pay, and the easier it is for our customers, it’s another win-win. It’s also part of our inclusive philosophy, too. Because, sometimes, people settle on tattoos and things that they don’t want exactly, because it’s more in their price point. But, this allows people to sort of bring that inner vision out and get closer to what they were looking for.”

The Results

  • 4.5x revenue growth in the first year of implementing Appointments
  • Almost 7x increase in store sales in the second year
  • 5.8x store footage increase in the second year.