Donna, you are the Principal at Australian Cosmetic Tattoo College. Can you tell us about the college – who it caters for and what it teaches?
Australian Cosmetic Tattoo College is a Registered Training College. We offer the latest techniques and training in cosmetic tattooing, and we are one of the only Australian colleges to offer private one-on-one training.
Our courses include “Design and Provide Cosmetic Tattoo” and “Infection Control”. We have our head office here in Port Macquarie in the Galleria Building, but in fact we train in Government Accredited Courses all over Australia, including Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Tasmania, Perth, and the Gold Coast.
I also have a range of personal clients whom I tend to from our office in Port Macquarie.
So your business’ Head Office is based in Port Macquarie, and you service a national market. What are some of the challenges you face staying competitive on a national scale? And how do you overcome these?
It is extremely challenging staying competitive as our market is now so popular, with beauty therapists, nurses and even doctors wishing to add cosmetic tattooing to their skill set, so there are a lot of “trainers” popping up in this space.
Our biggest challenge is trying to educate potential students about the difference between gaining Accreditation via a Registered Training Organisations like ours, versus the many trainers operating out there who offer courses without Accreditation.
Unfortunately, we see students all too often after they have completed one of these Non-Accredited courses and they realise they do not have the correct certification and have often not even completed half of the required theory.
We overcome this challenge by ensuring that all of our marketing touch points communicate our RTO Accreditation and the importance of this.
You’ve had such a wealth of experience and built a very successful business. Can you share some of your learnings from your business journey?
My business journey has been long and diverse. I have always loved being in business. If I go back to when I moved to Port Macquarie 40 years ago, I originally started out in fashion, with a boutique in William Street. Then I moved to the Galleria Building, when it was first built.
From fashion, I transitioned to the modelling industry and I started Mode Model Agency. I had franchises in Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour for this business. My move to beauty occurred after I studied makeup artistry, then beauty therapy.
Starting the Macquarie Beauty College was the next progression, and my college was the first in Australia to have cosmetic tattoo as an Accredited course.
After 15 years I opened Affusion Day Spa under the Observatory Hotel; however, my passion was cosmetic and medical tattooing.
I travelled all over Australia and the world with my presentations and demonstrations. Now our college employs trainers in every state of Australia.
To share from my business journey, I would suggest to others to always follow your dream and never listen to anybody if they say that it cannot be done.
What are some of the key strategic actions your business has undertaken over the years in order to scale?
The biggest actions we have taken over the years in order to scale have involved learning how to change with the times and adapting our business model accordingly. We have had to be comfortable to take chances, and we continually investigate new modalities. You can’t afford to sit still in business or become complacent.
What changes have you noticed in your industry over the last decade or so, and how have you had to adapt to cater for these?
Our industry has had several changes, mostly resulting from advances in technology. The major change has been the introduction of something called micro-blading. This is where individual hair strokes are simulated through the eyebrows, using fine deposits of cosmetic tattoo pigments. It results in a very natural, soft look.
Donna, I notice that you are one of the few people who also works at early hours of the morning (we’ve exchanged a few very early morning emails). How do you manage to fit everything in in a day?
Ha ha! If I have something that needs to be done, I start well before the office opens and usually start from my home computer. I do travel and work away from town one – two weeks per month.
I still manage to have time for my four grand-daughters and ensure I have a few days off in the school holidays to enjoy cooking and craft days. My mum is now 96, and I now spend one week per month assisting her, as she lives in her own home in Sydney. I get to Sing Australia on Monday nights whenever I am in Port Macquarie, plus try to get a walk in most days.
What is it that you love most about what you do?
Teaching is my passion. Passing on knowledge is my love.
And finally, if you could invite any three business people to lunch, who would they be and why would you invite them?
Mark Bouris from Yellow Brick Road. I’d really like to get inside his head and gain some of his insight. Oprah Winfrey, simply to hear more of her life story, and Donald Trump – I have so many questions which he may not like!
Thanks for your time, Donna!