Founded in 2000, The Aftercare Company is a market leader in providing aftercare solutions for use after tattooing, piercing, microblading and laser treatments. They are one of the longest established aftercare companies in the world and the UK’s longest serving company.
2023 BUSINESS STRATEGY
1. The Aftercare Company wants to lead the way in the European market by providing labelling that meets the new EU market requirements.
2. They are developing new partnerships within in the US marketplace
3. They have developed a vegan range of their original products which are being promoted to reach a new customer base and support options for existing customers.
4. They will continue to forge great partnerships with the companies they work with to find the most cost effective and sustainable packaging solutions for their products.
5. The Aftercare Company will remain adaptable and alert to the changing markets and explore new channels for growth.
The Aftercare Company was founded after owner Shirley Jaffrey had her first Tattoo. Shirley’s sister called to say she was going for a tattoo and did Shirley want to come and get a tattoo. It was a random suggestion and having never been inside a tattoo studio before Shirley decided to go. She picked a small design from flash art which was tattooed on her skin. Shirley’s tattoo artist advised her to use Prep H (a haemorrhoid cream) to heal her skin. Another customer who was sitting across from Shirley asked the tattoo artist if there was anything else available to use and was told no. Shirley who was a qualified aromatherapist, nurse and natural health practitioner thought this was strange. Surely there was something available to heal the skin as she could immediately think of how she could heal her skin. Also, this was a busy shop and during her time there she watched several people come in.
Shirley went home and blended a mix of oils and used this to heal her skin. She was however very intrigued into this new world which had just opened to her.
She started researching tattoo studios and this being pre-website days she headed to the library and started looking through all the yellow page directories. These are phone books which list companies, their address and phone numbers. She discovered that there were tattoo studios all over the country and cities would have number of studios registered.
The internet was in its infancy and not many businesses had websites yet and all she could find was a fledgling company in the US who had started to make an aftercare.
She found some tattoo magazines in the newsagents and there was nothing in any of them about an aftercare. Shirley then began experimenting in her kitchen with a range of ingredients. She was looking at the benefits of each ingredient on the skin and for them to be gentle enough to suit all types of skin. She played about with the amount of wax melted then set to get the right consistently. From her kitchen the Tattoo Aftercare recipe was born.
At this time, shirley and her then partner were not working. She had a one-year-old son and two older daughters. They were on benefits so there was no spare money.
Shirley thought she could supply local studios with an aftercare so called an aromatherapy wholesaler with a list of ingredients and packaging. They quoted her a cost of £400 for what was on her list. This cost looked well out of Shirley’s’ reach as being on benefits getting a spare £40 was a struggle never mind £400.
A few days later a parcel was delivered containing all the items she had enquired about even though she had not actually placed the order. She called her dad and asked if she could borrow £400 to pay the invoice. He agreed and she had her first starter stock.
It was then back to the library to get some tattoo studio addresses. Using publisher to create marketing flyers Shirley posted out order forms and flyers to 50 tattoo studios picked at random from the yellow pages’ directory. Two responded with an order. The Aftercare Company was born.
Times were not easy though and money was scarce. Shirley hand blended stock from her kitchen. Every day the kitchen would be cleaned down and set up to blend. Her daughters would help label and pack after school so the kitchen could be free to start tea. That first year Shirley turned that £400 start up cash into £24,000 of sales.
She moved into her first premises a year after starting and was still hand blending. Loans were taken out to be able to order printed lids and packaging.
She then was hand blending enough jars to be able to move the product to a contract manufacturer who began to manufacture her product for her. She coordinates all the packaging to go to them and then they send back the finished products for her to distribute. She is still with that company.
She began attending tattoo conventions up and down the country taking out stands and would spend the weekend talking to tattoo artist and tattoo enthusiasts.
The internet began to develop, and she had their first website built. At that time, most websites were just information based. As time progressed so did her website to be able to sell products.
She started advertising in trade magazines and continued to build their customer base. For the first couple years there were only one company in the US making a tattoo aftercare product, shirley and one company in Australia.
After starting to go to tattoo conventions Shirley discovered that there were also not many suitable options for healing a body piercing. Her second product BPA Piercing Aftercare was developed. For the first 9 years Shirley sold her two products and had customers all over the UK, Europe and counties like Indonesia and Australia. During that time the tattoo industry blossomed into the mainstream awareness and with that came an increase in products being produced for tattoos and Piercings. These escalated in numbers as each year passed. It went from three main companies to hundreds selling aftercare products. Shirley though stayed firmly on track and retained many of her original customers whilst finding new ones. With the increase in tattooing so did new laser treatments to help remove tattoos, so Shirley brought out a Laser Aftercare for use after Laser treatments.
In 2020 Shirley created a vegan option of her original Tattoo Aftercare and an aftercare for use after Microblading treatments.
All her products are certified by the Leaping Bunny as cruelty free skin care products.
She uses quality natural ingredients and is currently developing new products to compliment her range.
THE CHALLENGES THE BUSINESS HAS FACED
There have been many different challenges over the years and running a business whilst bringing up a family can be exhausting yet exhilarating. All these challenges though build character which enabled Shirley to cope with the uncharted territory that Covid brought on top of an already challenging time that Brexit had thrown onto companies like the aftercare company who had established European customers.
Brexit changed how companies did business with Europe and Shirley adapted and strengthened her company by embracing very quickly the new legislations that affected her products bringing in updated labelling with product application translated instructions. This put The Aftercare Company to the forefront of products being EU compliant. Delivery is still an ongoing issue but as always Shirley if finding the best routes round the problem and moving forward in a way that is pro active and beneficial to her European customers.
During the early COVID days Tattoo Studios as personal care businesses were closed. Each country had different closures. The Aftercare Company pre plans all their packaging and with lead times of 3 months and more in advance, even though their customers were closed this did not stop the stock previously ordered from coming in. This had a serious impact on cash flow. They did however navigate their way through these demanding times to surface stronger than ever.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE AFTERCARE COMPANY
The Aftercare Company continues to grow. This is because they provide quality products, with fair pricing that meets their customer needs.
Shirley stays committed to being the best she can be, and this reflects though her attention to the changing markets.
A person needs to believe in the product or service they are providing. They might not believe in themselves, but they do need to believe in what they are selling.
Product/Service pricing can be hard to work out especially if you start your business from home. People tend to not be able to price their time adequately. One way to work it out is look at how much you would pay another person to do what you do for the business. Find out what someone else would pay you for that job. That gives you some figures to work into any product/service costing. Every cost of the business must be factored in. Once you know how much it costs you to produce the product/service you can then add on your profit margin.
Running your own business can be hard. There can be no regular employment wages at the end of the month, and everyone has bills to meet. Everything will cost you twice as much and take twice as long as you think.
A lot of successful business owners can have “imposters syndrome” where they do not see or feel that they are doing anything special. This has its benefits as it pushes you forward but you also need to take time to recognise how far you may have come. Success can come in many forms so learn to look for all the small achievements.
Sometimes a sense of achievement comes from just getting through another day. Other times you might just enjoy the freedom you have to chat to a customers and know you created this business.
LESSONS WE CAN LEARN
Adversity can be a great teacher. Mistakes can provide lessons on what not to do therefore showing a more successful way.
Employees and contractors are valuable assets to the company. Make sure you treat everyone who contributes to your business with fairness and respect.
Customers are the boss. They choose where to spend their money. The best advertising comes from a satisfied customer. Fantastic Customer service will lead your company.
We treat every customer with the same esteem. From the sole trader who orders one box every week to the main retailer who orders 100 boxes at a time. To us they are all essential to our success.
The Aftercare Company