René Vargas: from a tattoo studio to a university seminar

One can easily imagine the daily routine at Roda Body Art, a body decoration studio in the town of Puerto Montt, (Los Lagos region, Chile). Its website, Facebook and Instagram profiles transport any online visitor to these small premises that enjoy a fine view of the sea. The photos almost allow you to feel the nervousness of the first-timers for tattoo or piercing, and the experienced confidence of others, calmly chatting with the tattoo artists as they choose the next design. You will probably often see a curious face peering in through the studio windows, open-mouthed as they watch how people cover themselves with drawings and perforations.

This business has been going for 10 years and has not only increased its client base but also acquired some anecdotes. For example, René Vargas, the owner, tells the tale of how one day he was surprised when an older lady came in with her neighbor because her son thought that “she was far too old to have her ears pierced”. René decided to take care of her himself, adorning her with flower earrings.

This entrepreneur Fondo Esperanza (FE) did not always work here. He started with a craftwork stand where he sold fabrics and wool caps, among other things, supported by BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s Chilean institution. He had heard about FE from two loan officers who told him about the group lending methodology, and the simplicity of the process convinced him to go ahead and apply for a loan.

As time passed, he started providing body piercing services and selling costume jewelry. Later on, at his customers’ request, the opportunity arose to do tattoos. He says that what he likes most about his current job is how it connects him with the people who come in to Roda Body Art. A project that could not have become reality were it not for the support of his village bank Imperio Contraataca (The Empire Strikes Back).

Nowadays he has a significant track record and recognition in the Los Lagos region. An expertise that took him to a seminar organized by FE and the University of San Sebastián, where he was invited to speak about his life. He talked about his personal growth, thanks to Fondo Esperanza: “The financial support is important, but also the support of my colleagues in my village bank”.

He reveals that the secrets of his success are the quality of his services and the client treatment. Everyone in the studio is constantly taking courses, keeping up to date with the latest trends in the sector, as well as using top quality materials (costume jewelry, ink, etc). He says that the number of recurring clients is a sign of his good performance. The question is: will the lady with the flower earrings come back?

Karessa Ramos, Communications BBVAMF