Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. In our weekly 27 Questions column, we get up close and personal with the city’s notable personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same amount of time it takes to sit through a casual speed date. This week, we speak to Sara Mossman of Sara Pierced Me.
For so many of us, getting a piercing is something of a rite of passage. It might be an event from infancy you have no recollection of; as integral a part of your countenance as a favourite cheek dimple or that one beauty mark under your eyelashes. It might be an event you insisted upon in childhood — “Everyone else has it, mum!” — you’d then suffer through with eyes clenched in a mall kiosk surrounded by plastic gems and, the horror, piercing guns. Or it might, at this point, be a hobby — a vice, you’d sometimes say — you get again, and again, and again, because there are just so many pretty piercings that can fill up the seashell curve of an ear. Or your nose. Your eyebrow. Your navel.
Sara Mossman — the woman wielding single-use needles behind the luxury body-modification boutique ‘Sara Pierced Me’ here in Hong Kong — is plenty pierced; plenty tattooed. But unlike, say, law or medicine or a vocation with an equally rigid path towards qualification, body modification isn’t a career you earn degrees for. Rather, it’s often a serendipitous link-up between master and apprentice — as is what happened for Mossman after post-secondary in Canada.
“Toronto had a really active body-mod scene; lots of people in the late ‘90s and early 2000’s were wearing plugs and piercings,” says Mossman, who also cites an indigenous jewellery feature in Chikadee, a children’s magazine, as a formative introduction to her chosen field. “This really affected my youth and I ended up embracing body modification in my very early teens, much to the chagrin of my parents.”
Hiding a pinprick piercing or a smudge of tattoo from Asian parents is, also, somewhat of a rite of passage, but turning passion that touches on taboo into business is very, very different.
“My family is generally a little in the dark about what I actually do,” says Mossman, laughing. “They were super reluctant until much, much later and much deeper into my career. My parents always thought this was a fad, just a trend, just fashion. Now, they are becoming more aware as they see my stability, my happiness and how content I am with my working life.”
Sara Pierced Me is Hong Kong’s finest luxury body piercing boutique. In Mossman’s own words, “luxury” for a place where body-mods occur, are simply “standards you should expect”.
“We strictly follow guidelines established by reputable organisations in our field, and go the extra step in procuring the best materials. This would include the piercing tools and how those tools are handled. Every single thing I use in my process of piercing is imported from firms which specialise in body modification,” says Mossman.
An appointment at Sara Pierced Me lasts 30 minutes — the actual piercing portion is much, much shorter; a couple deep breaths in and out, max — with the consultation the most protracted portion of the session. The time taken spans across selecting jewellery, to picking a position, finding a pose and to having Mossman curate a personalised piercing plan that matches not just what you came in wanting pierced, but the actual anatomy of your ear.
“Our jewellery selection is also a lot different than the usual experience you will find at, say, the mall. Most of the exclusive body jewellery companies we carry in our studio, including BVLA and Buddha Jewelry have twenty-plus years in the business, with lifetime guarantees,” Mossman continues. “We try and find the right balance between a client’s expectations, budget and other things like sensitivity to metals. These are some of the things that make our services different than the typical piercing kiosk. We encourage our clients to become more discerning and we try to educate, too. We want your time with us to be meaningful and memorable!”
From a solo studio in-the-works (TBD!) to learning new techniques — “Right now, I really enjoy performing the Forward Helix, as well as Stacked Ear Lobes, as both of these require a lot of measurement and calculation before execution. They are a little more complicated than the usual piercing and they always look really cool afterwards!” — Mossman is just doing her thing and honing her craft.
And she really wants to you stop touching your freshly-pierced piercing.
Meet Sara Mossman of Sara Pierced Me:
Name: Sara Mossman
Neighbourhood: Sai Wan Ho
Occupation: Body piercer and owner-operator of Sara Pierced Me
1. What is your life motto?
What would Tina do? (Tina is my Mom!)
2. What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten in Hong Kong?
Best meal? It’s always with the gang at Yardbird Yakitori and all the pop-ups they put on throughout the year! Matt and Lindsay always make the meal count.
3. Who is your role model?
My mom, Tina.
4. What was your first job?
Gripping skateboards at a shop called West49 at the mall near my house.
5. What is your drink of choice?
Iced lime soda.
6. When was the last time you drove a car?
At least ten years ago! Back in Canada.
7. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?
The best thing about my apartment is my plant collection and my balcony! I collect rare and interesting succulents and cacti — I really love spiky things! My balcony lets me keep lots of cute plants that I love watering and sitting with on my days away from work!
8. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Hmmmmm…. ramen, tacos or pizza? It’s hard to say. I think because I miss real pizza so much I am going to say authentic, North American, crispy-bottom, melty cheese pizza! There aren’t really good pizza in Hong Kong.
9. What do you hate most about living in Hong Kong?
The lack of authentic American food like pizza, among other things. Hong Kong has a lot of great stuff to eat, but eating truly authentic tasting North American junk food is often an uncommon experience. A lot of places either don’t try hard enough or cut too many corners for it to taste the way it is supposed to. With a few exceptions.
Also, the humidity.
10. What is the top destination on your bucket list?
I want to see more of Mexico, I have only seen some of it and I love it there and love the culture and people. I also want to explore some Megalithic sites like Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom in Cambodia, and maybe if I am lucky some of the pretty parts of the Great Barrier Reef! I can dive a little bit, so I love going to places with water. I also love history, so seeing large monuments and things like that are a draw as well.
11. What is one movie everyone should see?
12. Have you ever experienced love at first sight? Tell us about it.
Yes, when I first rescued my cat Frank from a barn. He was the smallest of his litter and he had a unique colour that made him stand out. He really gravitated towards me. Definitely love at first sight.
13. What’s your favourite childhood memory?
Driving to Disney World. We drove a rented van, with a bunch of family from Hong Kong. From Markham, Ontario allllll the way down to Florida, stopping along the way at different American cities. It was a lot of fun and a happy childhood memory.
14. What is your favourite scent in the whole world?
15. Are you a good cook? What is your best dish?
I am not a good cook but I can make roast chicken, so I try to make that when I have the opportunity at home with family. I do my best!
16. Who is the best teacher you’ve ever had, what is one important lesson that they taught you?
My first ESL teacher in Canada, who encouraged me to embrace my Hong Kong culture but still helped me improve my English in the process.
17. What is one song you know all the lyrics to?
“WAP” – Cardi B, feat. Megan Thee Stallion.
18. Do you have any favourite tattoos or special birthmarks? What is it?
My little single-needle portrait of my husband, Jon.
19. What would you do if you won the lottery?
Travel more, for sure. Likely get a bigger flat for more plants and some animals.
20. What was the best gift you ever received?
My initial mentorship in my field, which was a gift. I will always cherish it.
21. When did you feel that you ‘made it’?
I felt like I made it when my parents truly accepted me for who I was and what career choices I had made. It felt like a struggle for a long time. Then, my parents came around to the reality, and my grandparents started showing interest in my body art and my business. Those things had to happen before I felt like I made it.
22. What energises you about your work?
My clients! Every single person and personality that come into my space is different and has a different story and reason for wanting to get pierced and I get to hear about it all the time. These stories always remind me of myself a little and make the job a pleasure.
23. Start your life again at age 15 with all the knowledge you have now, or fast forward 10 years?
I would start it again at 15 with all the knowledge I have now because one thing I really enjoy is to learn to do things better than I have done them before. I also don’t like the idea of skipping ahead and missing all the valuable experiences I am to experience.
24. What’s your favourite tradition?
My favourite tradition is Halloween! Getting together with the family, making a big meal together and sitting down together to eat, doing activities like carving pumpkins and crafts with my sister, handing out candy, getting candy. Its the greatest tradition of all time!
25. If you could snap your fingers and fix one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would end world hunger and extreme poverty with sustainable enterprises. I think this would have a strong effect on other things I care deeply about, like habitat loss for animals and issues affecting our climate and environment.
26. Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not?
I believe in magic, but I am not sold entirely on astrology and it doesn’t have a huge bearing on my every day. It is fun to think there is some kind of cosmic plan for us all but it’s something that I allow to entertain me, not educate me.
27. What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done, and why?
Moving halfway around the world to Hong Kong with my then-boyfriend, with no job secured in place and no real idea what was in store. We were really shook up at first, but it all worked out great in the end. It was destiny.