Tina Davies makes a lasting impression
The backstory – Tina Davies Professional
Starting out as a single product company, Tina Davies Professional has grown to become a go-to for accessible permanent cosmetics. Through the creation of game-changing products and sharing cutting-edge techniques, this brand is empowering Make-up Artists (MUAs) all over the globe.
The Scale Up checks in with Co-founder Luke Davies to talk about how the business started and why the brand is – excuse the permanent brow pun – here to stay.
Tina and I make quite the team as lifelong entrepreneurs – we enjoy shaking up markets with bucket loads of innovation and passion.- Luke Davies, Co-founder - Tina Davies Professional
Who is Tina Davies? What’s her story?
As well as being my wife, she’s a permanent makeup (PMU) artist, inventor, product designer and entrepreneur. Together we founded Tina Davies Professional to make permanent cosmetics mainstream and to help artists achieve better results in their work.
Tina’s been a PMU artist for over 20 years. In 2015 microblading (a makeup tattooing technique) suddenly became really popular but the tools available at the time were pretty shoddy. They were low quality, poorly packaged, under sterilised and manufactured with inferior materials.
So, after attempting to microblade me (I didn’t let her), then trying it on her own legs and face, she made it her mission to create a high-end tool specifically for artists. One that she would be proud to use.
She’d even microblade her own eyebrows every two months so she could control the aftercare process and monitor everything firsthand. She was real hands on, as you’d expect from any PMU artist! In all, she’s completed over 15,000 procedures and invented a number of industry-changing products.
What’s your involvement in the business (aside from your husband and targeted guinea pig duties?)
Tina and I make quite the team as lifelong entrepreneurs – we enjoy shaking up markets with bucket loads of innovation and passion.
My background is in executive recruiting for technology companies and sales – so while it’s completely different to cosmetics, I’m able to inject a lot of expertise into the strategic side of the business. Tina’s always grateful for my advice and encouragement too.
Was that advice and encouragement needed during the first product development and testing stage?
Yep – our first prototype was literally just a chopstick with a needle set taped to the end. It would later become a disposable microblade. Before we launched it, artists were forced to assemble their own makeshift solutions from parts sourced from Ali Baba. At the time it wasn’t possible to get a high-end microblade that was properly sterilized, packaged and designed.
From there we worked with several industrial design firms and developed and tested many different prototypes until we got the right balance or weight distribution, comfort, ergonomics and performance.
Then, after several trips to China and lots of back and forth with vendors, we were able to consistently make an exceptional product.
Once you were confident with your product, how did you fund it and get it off the ground?
Tina and I had already started several businesses prior to Tina Davies Professional and we were fortunate to be able to self finance. At launch we did a lot of pre-marketing and hype building prior to even having a finished product.
Once we actually went live, sales were very good and we actually broke even within the first month.
So who can we find buying your products and how do you create value for those customers?
Currently our customers are PMU professionals and consumers seeking permanent makeup procedures. We work very hard at delivering a consistently great experience for our community of artists across all touch points. We ensure that every email, every box, every ad, every social post, every support ticket is handled with meticulous attention to detail.
We’re also big on regularly engaging with our community to help us create new products and content that they love.
We’re also big on regularly engaging with our community to help us create new products and content that they love.- Luke Davies
Are your UK customers’ buying behaviours any different to those in other markets?
We’re always amazed at how vibrant the PMU community is in the UK. For a small island, the UK definitely punches above their weight class. Our big sellers in the UK are our microblades, pigments, aftercare and our educational content.
We need to ask, how do you keep ahead in such a busy marketplace? What makes Tina Davies Professional different?
One of our core strengths as a company is to pay very close attention to our community and their needs. We do this through monitoring and tagging support tickets, analysing how our content is consumed and paying close attention to our site metrics. If you listen, people will tell you what they want, then you just have to make it.
Are there any cosmetics brands (or non-cosmetics) out there who you look at and think, wow, they’ve got it right?
Brands that inspire us are companies like Glossier and Lululemon. We really admire how they built a community first – and then a company to serve that community.
Scaling up, that’s what we’re here to talk about. Tina Davies Professional is achieving fantastic growth in multiple markets. Did you come across particular challenges along the way?
Finding the right people and partners was a major challenge – but over time we’ve improved at identifying, measuring and selecting the right ones.
You have to be very picky about who you work with and we have found that a lot of extra work up front saves a lot of time down the road. We have also developed systems and processes for assessing and selecting the people we work with.
We’ve certainly made a lot of mistakes along the way which really help to reinforce the lessons.
And Covid – has that thrown up some complications?
Covid has impacted us sure, both positively and negatively – but mostly positively.
The pandemic forced us to really focus on offers that our artists could use and pay for during a lockdown. Ultimately it helped us prioritise a digital academy we had been wanting to launch for over a year.
We were also very fortunate to have our sales recover quickly which helped us understand how important it is for consumers to gain confidence through PMU procedures. Many women had no issue putting on a mask and sitting in close proximity to an artist in the middle of a pandemic.
Looking ahead to an even brighter future, what can we expect to see from Tina Davies Professional next?
We’ll be continuing to partner with Academies with the goal of helping them provide a great experience for their students. A focus on ensuring all future artists start with the best available tools and supplies remains.
Our digital academy, The Collective, is launched and live. We partnered with the world’s best PMU artists and created an experience similar to Masterclass where artists can learn tips from the pros that would ordinarily be very hard for them to access.
James and James Fulfilment
It all began in 2010, when James Hyde and James Strachan couldn’t find a modern shipping service for the eCommerce business they ran. Faced with messy warehouses based on out-dated systems, they decided to build their own.
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