Terry Michael LeRoi
In the same way that two seemingly unconnected things sometimes turn out to be directly linked, the genesis of Terry LeRoi's involvement in the jewelry business is separated by only a few degrees from his deep passion for hard rock music. As the owner and creative mastermind behind LeRoi Inc. -- one of the world's leading manufacturers of body jewelry -- and proprietor of Manhattan's recently opened LeRoi Fine Body Piercing Boutique, Terry will confess that he might never have ended up making body jewelry at all if he hadn't first decided that what he wanted to do with his life was be a rock star.
Raised in the college town of Oswego in upstate New York, Terry graduated from High School with his sights set on finding success in the music industry. A huge fan of classic metal bands like AC /DC, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and many popular metal bands of the '80s, Terry was a gifted rock vocalist with his own heavy metal band when he chose to skip college and got a job where the flexible hours let him make his band the number one priority: delivering pizza. Over the next few years, Terry sang for several different bands with whom he had opportunities to open shows for national acts like Skid Row and Quiet Riot, and to perform at larger rock festival alongside major bands such as The Cult and Metallica.
It was Terry's conversations with a co-worker studying jewelry making at the local college that initially piqued his interest in an untapped talent. "One of my hobbies is carving," says Terry, "and I've always loved jewelry. I started talking with this guy about jewelry making, and the next thing I knew I was ordering tools and supplies from catalogs, making a few pieces of my own." Terry planned to sell his necklaces, rings and charms at local farmer's markets and festivals as a way to supplement his income. His professional path shifted however, when the jewelry store where Terry purchased his gems and jewelry-making supplies offered him a job as a goldsmith. "They kept me very busy and I had to learn fast," he says, "but I just I loved it and I really excelled. It's never been like work to me."
While working as a goldsmith, Terry created his own line of martial arts charms, which he sold to various Martial Arts accessories distributors. Working in this side endeavor increased Terry's confidence in his ability to craft beautiful jewelry items that people wanted to buy and gave him further insight into operating a business. What happened next is somewhat of a cosmic indication of how Terry's destiny found him. "As a jeweler and a musician, I had a lot of pierced friends," says Terry. "They would come to me and ask me to make them body jewelry. At the time, body jewelry was a largely unexplored territory and it seemed like a great business opportunity, so I just went for it." What started out initially as a word of mouth business selling directly to tattoo and piercing salons in the northeast region and tri state area grew exponentially when Terry began placing ads for his jewelry in magazines like Outlaw Biker, Tattoo and International Tattoo. LeRoi manufacturing was born in 1995, incorporated in 1998 and has been a thriving enterprise ever since.
After nearly ten years on the manufacturing and wholesale distribution side of the business, Terry knew the next step was to bring LeRoi's industry expertise, fine quality body jewelry and superior customer service directly to the people. In December 2004, Terry opened the LeRoi Fine Body Piercing Boutique in one of Manhattan's primary up and coming downtown neighborhoods. LeRoi's beautiful, inviting salon, located on Rivington Street, provides expert body piercing services exclusively and sells a wide array of LeRoi jewelry and accessories. "We're already a major force in the body jewelry industry," Terry offers. "Now we have a retail shop with a topnotch, experienced piercer. The tattoo and piercing world has known who we are for years; now we're inviting people in to our shop to meet us and experience what we do firsthand. Opening the LeRoi piercing salon in Manhattan is an extension of our presence in the world."
Balancing his busy schedule between the upstate factory and the NYC shop, Terry still finds time to pursue his musical interests. He is the lead singer and primary songwriter for the heavy metal band Titanium Black, together now for over four years. Critically compared to bands such as Queensryche and Judas Priest, Titanium Black released its debut album, Bleed For You on Terry's label, Great Dane Records in the spring of 2004. Bleed For You was produced by studio legend, Michael Wagener and is one of the first metal albums recorded in 5.1-surround sound.
In a clever cross-marketing idea, Terry designed the disc's custom packaging to include a titanium captive bead ring (suitable for use with a variety of piercings) with each CD purchase. "I realized my jewelry customers are also fans of this style of heavy music," says Terry. "Titanium is a very space age, alloy metal with many unique properties and I thought it would just be cool to put a package together that gives people extra value for their money." Titanium Black plays several shows each month in the upstate, metropolitan New York and Long Island areas.
Terry LeRoi splits his time between his home in Oswego -- where he can stay involved in ongoing factory operations -- and an East Village, New York City apartment, allowing him to take an active role in the piercing boutique's developing business. "I take pride in multi-tasking," Terry offers, "and I'm involved in every part of my business. I love the freedom of making, naming and setting a price for our products. I like the fact that we're involved in an industry that's being created as we go. I get to combine my art background with machining skills and I've learned what it takes to successfully run a business. I never, ever thought that I would be doing this, but now every day is an adventure. I wake up thinking, 'What are we doing today?' I love that."