What you can salvage from your business burning down

reinvent business

In 2009, Matt Deverson, an experienced artist who specialises in Japanese style tattooing, established Progression Tattoo in South Australia, working alongside his wife. The space, Deverson says, was a beautiful old building, with a great atmosphere for customers.

“We built our old studio over time and different customers were coming in. It was all word of mouth, and our reputation carried us,” says Deverson.

“Up until a few months ago, it was going really well.”

In June this year, the business was rocked with somebody threw a firebomb up the stairwell of the business and – in a moment – the parlour that had been developed and nurtured for eight years was destroyed.

The tattoo parlour, whose specialist artists predominately focus on Japanese, traditional, lettering and realism tattoos, has been forced to reinvent their business.

Find out how AGL can help you reinvent your business.

According to news reports, the fire caused about $300,000 worth of damage.

“Our two main reception rooms were burnt out by the fire, and a lot of the tattoo rooms were heavily damaged by smoke and water,” says Deverson.

Deverson was fortunate to have generous neighbours in Dare Hair Salon, who helped the tattoo parlour reopen quickly by sharing their premises with the business. But, Deverson admits, it is a pretty uncomfortable working environment.

“The old shop was a great space,”says Deverson.

“We built the custom tattoo studio in this beautiful old building and it was huge. The current space is tiny, and we have to use an outdoor toilet,” he says.

New beginnings

Despite the changing circumstance, Deverson says customers have been very supportive. The business is thriving because of their loyalty and the artists’ excellent reputation.

“Most people are aware that it is a temporary situation, and they like coming to us because of our work,” he says.

“They are sticking with us.”

The attack on the tattoo parlour has enabled Progression Tattoo to recalibrate their business. Deverson says that they are using this opportunity to start new and start fresh.

“We are all sad about what happened, but we’re also starting to become at peace with it,” he said.

“We’ve spent so much time in there, and we are so familiar with the way that the shop looked so we think it’s time for a bit of a change.”

“In light of a bad situation, we have a chance to fit our new shop and do a few different things that we hadn’t done before.”

Progression Tattoo is planning on exposing the bricks and opening up a couple of the walls. The old studio was full of antiques and pictures, so they are also intending to adopt a more minimalist approach.

They are waiting on their insurance company before they make a final decision on the building.

“[The incident] has made us want to work harder, and be better tattoo artists,” says Deverson.  

“We’re waiting to see what happens but in the meantime we are trying to be as positive as we can. Our goal is to offer a more rewarding experience than what we are already offering.”

Progression Tattoo is hoping to receive final approval to start rebuilding next month.


AGL is dedicated to supporting Australian small businesses. We have a number of packages that can be tailored to your business’ specific needs. Visit us at agl.com.au/business to find out more.

Partner content