On Friday, July 24, 2020, we opened our second location at 807 N. Howard Street in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore. Twenty-five years after the first studio in Philadelphia opened its doors, there is now an Infinite in Baltimore!
We have been working toward this day for over a year now. We made our original announcement for our grand opening back in February, and then in March the whole world changed. Like everyone, navigating these past few months has been a totally new experience for us, especially with opening a brand new studio amidst an ongoing and totally unprecedented health crisis.
It’s been a long, crazy journey. How did it happen? Let’s start at the beginning:
As with many things in Baltimore, it all started with John Waters.
Shortly after New Year’s in early 2019, I was traveling with my wife and son through the South. We were looking for a city to stop in on our drive back to Philadelphia, and we saw that the Baltimore Museum of Art’s exhibition of John Water’s work ended on January 6. That made the decision easy; Baltimore it was!
I hadn’t been to Baltimore since I was fifteen years old, when I went on a family trip to the Baltimore Aquarium. My wife (and son) had never been here before, but she had been told by numerous friends over the years that she just had to make the trip, that the arts and culture (and weirdness) that she so loved from her years in New Orleans was alive in Baltimore. Those people were not wrong.
We fell in love with the city. We toured the waterfront and explored the different neighborhoods. We stayed at the Revival Hotel, a boutique hotel with an amazing rooftop restaurant overlooking Mount Vernon’s Washington Monument—with art in every room selected by our Philly neighbor Paradigm Gallery. While exploring the surrounding neighborhood, we found ourselves walking Baltimore’s Antique Row, and stumbled upon the future home of Infinite Body Piercing.
Like the other properties on Baltimore’s Antique Row in Mount Vernon, 807 North Howard Street was built sometime in the late 1830s to early 1840s. At that time, shopkeepers lived and worked in the block, selling dry goods, groceries, and blacksmith services. Antiques establishments began moving here in the early 1900s, and for close to 100 years, through the early 1990s, the street was full of antique stores, and a destination for antique shoppers from all over the United States.
Now, in 2020, the street is in the middle of a significant transformation. The once-thriving antique businesses that were the lifeblood of the area are seeing fewer and fewer collectors and buyers. Some owners put the blame on the Light Rail, the surface train whose tracks were laid in the early 90s, where its construction closed down the street to traffic for a year. Others blame the younger generation for not appreciating and supporting the market for antiques. Regardless of why, many store owners have been retiring and selling off properties that were home antique stores.
When we first toured the property, it was an antique store packed full with Asian artifacts, chandeliers, and stacks and stacks of books, all overseen by the inimitable Phil Dubey. Phil purchased the property in the mid-80s, and through the years purchased the two adjoining properties, and then a fourth further south. He expanded his business into the new locations, and for thirty-five years, 807 North Howard Street was the home base for his antique businesses.
Now Phil was looking to retire. He had already sold two of the four properties: one was now a clothing boutique, and the one next door to us was slated to be a dispensary—or so we were told. It only took one walkthrough to see the potential of the space. We quickly decided we were going to go all-in and commit to establishing an Infinite Body Piercing in Baltimore.
The work that needed to be done to the space was significant. We took over a building built around 1830 and needed to bring it to 2020. For this, we were lucky enough to find the perfect partner in KLR Construction. Fun fact: I was put in contact with Gavin Lehrl, owner of KLR Construction, because of his work on Baltimore’s Milk and Honey cafe, whose owner’s contact info I got from Rob—who designed the recent Philly Infinite rehab—and she evidently dated one of the Infinite Philly staff back in the late 90s! It really is a small world.
While we were doing essentially a full, gut rehab, we wanted to retain as much of what gave the building it’s character. We consulted with the Baltimore Historical Commission on our plans, along with the Baltimore Downtown Partnership and the Baltimore Development Corporation on rehabbing the traditional wood and glass façade. We ended up keeping as much of the original trim and doors as possible, and getting historic accurate windows for the exterior. In the end, we ended up with a great blend of the old and the new, the modern with the existing historic treatments. We even updated the transoms over the two entrances with traditional stained-glass windows from Baltimore's Terraza Stained Glass.
For several months, we kept at it, working while we waited for Baltimore City to reopen. We had our delays and setbacks, but we finally finished and opened for business on July 24, 2020. It had been over a year since we first committed to the project, and a year and a half since that first visit to Baltimore.
We have approximately 1500 square feet of space dedicated to the studio. We have abundant natural light on the first floor, with the huge west-facing windows getting the afternoon light. We have an expansive retail area, with window seating for waiting along with a second seating area past the retail area. (This makes for easy social distancing for clients while they wait to be pierced!)
We have four piercing rooms: two on the first floor, and two more on the second. Three out of our four piercing rooms have natural light, with large, historic windows, and two rooms on the second floor that share a skylight!
We are fortunate to occupy one of the few properties on Howard Street where the entrance is at street level, making the store wheelchair-accessible. We have a three-stair walkup to get to the piercing rooms at the back of the store, so we have a platform wheelchair lift to allow all our clients the ability to get pierced. Additionally, the bathroom is ADA compliant, making the studio completely accessible for any client who uses a wheelchair.
We follow the same strict standards that we do in our Philadelphia studio, and offer the same standards of cleanliness. We use a traditional steam autoclave for bulk sterilizing of our equipment, in addition to StatIms: steam flush pressure pulse (SFPP) sterilizers that prepare jewelry quickly before procedures.
We have expansive display cases on the floor, in addition to cases spanning the walls from our front retail area to up the stairs and back toward the piercing rooms. We have an extensive inventory of jewelry from all the vendors that we carry in Philadelphia. As in Philly, all of our jewelry is exhaustingly sourced, and we only carry the best of what’s available. This includes high quality pieces for initial piercings in implant-grade stainless steel and titanium from companies including NeoMetal, Anatometal, and Industrial Strength. We carry an extensive inventory of gold jewelry from BVLA, Buddha, LeRoi, Pupil Hall, and others, and we have an overflowing inventory of ornate hanging weights from Maya Jewelry, Diablo Organics, Quetzalli, and Oracle Body Jewelry, as well as specialty pieces from smaller manufacturers like Tether Jewelry and many others—and you can shop it all online too!
Even More Jewelry is Online
All of our in-store inventory from both Philadelphia and Baltimore studios is available for sale at infinitebody.com. Not quite ready to break quarantine for in-person shopping? Want to see what we have in stock before you make the trip? With the opening of our new location, we have increased our online inventory immensely.
With the new opening, we have also added a new feature to our website: As you browse through the online store, you will see that each item now lets you know which store has an item, and if the stock is low! Just scroll down on the description on any item to view inventory by location.
The Baltimore Staff
As difficult as building a studio is during a pandemic, hiring is even harder. When we committed to opening our second location, we dedicated ourselves to recruiting the best possible staff, people who can create the same unique experience that our clients have in our Philly studio.
The quarantine made flying prospective employees to Philly for in-person interviews impossible, so we spent months talking to candidates over email, chat, and video conferencing. We even started off with several “guest” piercers, who were helping us out while we finalized who our permanent employees would be. Now we’re excited we can finally introduce the staff that will be overseeing our Baltimore studio:
Kookie Lynn started her piercing career in 2010 in Atlanta, eventually ending up at Kolo Piercing. She’s recently relocated to Baltimore with her partner after her recent stay at Body Manipulations in San Francisco. Kookie originally came to piercing through her interest in documenting the human form through film photography, and continues to explore her passion around the ritual of the practice. For several years, she has worked toward the inclusion of more non-white practitioners in the piercing industry, and in 2019 she established the Piercers of Color Scholarship to help piercers who may not have the opportunity to attend the Association of Professional Piercers Annual Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas. This year, she launched BlackAdorned, which highlights the involvement of Black piercers and piercees in body modification, throughout history.
Originally from Florida, Jenell Di Leonardo is joining us on the East Coast from her recent position at High Priestess in Eugene, Oregon. She comes to us with eleven years of piercing experience at different studios, including Miami’s Ink Daddy’s and Twisted Ink Tattoo Studio, Warlocks Tattoo and Body Piercing, Studio Seven Piercing, and Renegade Pearl Body Arts, all in North Carolina. She is especially fond of doing bridge piercings and loves doing genital work!
Caitlin Merix is the newest member of our counterstaff. Originally from Dover, Delaware, Caitlin is passionate about body modification—in addition to hula-hooping. Special thanks also to Noel Keener for helping us at the counter for our first few weeks before she starts her new life in Chicago.
Philly’s Heather Donell has been helping us by covering a few shifts as well, until everyone gets settled in. And of course you’ll see me in the office in the middle of the studio, sitting in the same place Phil Dubey occupied for all those years.
Appointments & Hours
We are open from noon until 7 p.m. every day. Just like in Philadelphia, appointments will be required for everything. This includes not only new piercing services, but also jewelry changes and even just buying jewelry to-go. Don’t worry: booking appointments is super easy and can be done through our website here. As appointments at the Philadelphia studio are often full a week in advance, same-day appointments are usually available in Baltimore—so if you don’t mind making the trip, we can often handle your spur-of-the-moment piercing needs!
Obviously, we hadn’t planned on opening in the middle of a global pandemic, but here we are. Just like in Philly, masks will be required for entry into the studio, and also like Philly we will not be offering any services on piercings located under masks. This means for the foreseeable future we will not be offering septum or nostril piercings in addition to any oral piercings—and unfortunately we will also not be doing any jewelry changes for these piercings either. We can help you figure out what size or sizes you will need and coach you through changing nose and oral piercings at home, but for now we aren’t able to help you put that jewelry in at the studio.
We have implemented additional protocols in the studio to ensure that both our clients and our staff stay safe while inside the shop. This includes everything from plastic barriers installed at the counter, to a hand sanitizing station upon entry and HEPA filters placed throughout the shop for increased air filtration. Our appointment system is set up to ensure that we are able to maintain at least a 6’ distance between clients while in the shop, so rest assured that we will have plenty of space for you during your visit.
Appointments are timed to ensure that we have enough time for each client, but please be sure to arrive on time. To book an appointment, head to our Appointments page. Be sure to read through this page, as well as the confirmation email you will receive after booking to ensure you have everything you need when you come in.
We’re excited to be able to bring our passion and experience to the city of Baltimore. We’ve long prided ourselves on being a welcoming space for everyone, no matter if you’re coming in for your first piercing or your fifteenth. We look forward not just to bringing what we know and love to Baltimore, but bringing a little of Baltimore into what we love, too.
Thanks to Kimberly Dean for additional photos!