We were thrilled to finally interview one of our first salons to get a Plush + Oak bed — The Gatsby Studio! Lead by power couple Darby and TJ who have taken the PMU world by storm with their services and thriving academy business! Read more about their success, goals, and all about their beautiful salon featuring the Edda bed in Nude!
Can you tell me a bit more about The Gatsby Studio and yourselves? How did you get started, and when did you realize that brows were your passion?
TJ: is a complex question in a sense. Darby has been Microblading for 6 years. She had always carried a strong passion for makeup and beauty in general (she actually had a successful YouTube channel focussing on cosmetics as a teen) and when she found microblading, she located a course immediately and dove in head first. She has worked tirelessly ever since to continue building her brand and expand her knowledge of the industry as a whole. I personally had no idea what Microblading or SMP was until meeting Darby. I owned a small wine import company when we started dating and she pushed me to start doing Scalp Micropigmentation in the evenings to sort of feed my creative side, and I fell in love with it immediately. It is hard to watch your clients' lives change with your results and not become obsessed! Shortley after, we decided to open The Gatsby Studio and Academy. After working on our curriculum for months during lockdowns, we started teaching and the Academy blew up! From simply being around eyebrows day in and day out started to build my obsession for creating them myself. Fast forward a little and here we are, obsessively creating brows together, teaching together and growing our business together!
How has the Gatsby studio evolved over the years?
TJ: From the beginning, we had a vision of where we wanted to be throughout the years. We started out with just Darby and myself, and really wanted to wait until we found the right people to fill the space with other artists. We launched our academy while we opened the new studio space, and ended up finding two incredibly talented and driven artists that came through our course. Since then, they have grown their presence online and have even began teaching with us at the academy! We have now started to focus on bringing the business online and offering courses remotely! That has been incredibly challenging but extremely fun and rewarding to see students from all over the world take our courses and go on to succeed themselves! We plan on continuing that online transition and look to open a second location in the future that focusses on advanced PMU training!
TJ, how does it feel being a male in a female dominated industry? Do you feel it is an advantage to you and allows you to stand out?
TJ: I have actually thought a lot about this. When I decided to start offering brows there were thoughts of focussing on men, or just finding a way to market myself properly. In the end, I didn't really see any obvious challenges. At the beginning I could see some hesitation from clients when they first walked in to find a 6'6" 230lb man preparing to do their eyebrows... but in the end, if you can provide incredible results, and understand how to make your clients feel comfortable in your space, that hesitation fades quickly. I have to say that it didn't hurt having the Microblading Queen as my other half! Although, since beginning my brow career, I have actually started to build a base of male clientele and I have been loving that focus! Man brows are definitely a bit different, and creating something unique for my male clientele has become a bit of an obsession for me! While there can be some challenges being a male working with mostly female clientele, my male clients seem to be super comfortable waking in to talk brows with another guy, and I feel like it has broken down some of the insecurities that they may feel normally.
Darby — can you explain the vibe and mood you were going for with the Gatsby studio and how you achieved it?
Darby: When we decided to open our own studio space, the design became my full-time obsession! I truly love interior design and decor so this was something that I took full advantage of. I wanted to create something that felt opulent, but super inviting; organic, but clean and modern. We actually found a lot of our pieces at antique shops and used them throughout the space to bring some character while working with clean lines and a minimalist approach to maintain the modern appeal. I brought organics in with dried floral arrangements and applied rough textures throughout the space using raw concrete on our walls and left our pillars exposed. When it comes to colour, I am all about neutrals, so that was easy for me! In the end, I am still pinching myself when I walk into the space, It is definitely me if I were a studio!
You were one of our early orders with Plush + Oak and your space is stunning! Can you tell me about the decision making process in purchasing the bed and the intention behind investing in it?
Darby: When I saw your beds, I fell in love with the esthetic immediately. It fit my space so perfectly, and it looked so incredibly comfortable. I definitely thought it through before making the investment but I knew that adding it to the space would both enhance the overall luxury of the room while also making my clients feel special, and let them know that their comfort is worth investing in! Design is so important to me and your beds definitely set a space apart from the rest!
What were you using previously, and how does the Plush + Oak bed work for micro blading and brow services?
Darby: I have always used massage beds, and overall they work great! But, after the Plush + Oak bed arrived it was obvious that it was superior. Not only was it comfortable for the client, but the design allows me to get up close and personal so effortlessly which is so important with microblading. Another big benefit is how easy it is for my clients to turn their head from side to side. It is a small detail, but it makes such a difference!
How has your Edda impacted your business and what do your clients think?
Darby: The Edda has enhanced the look of our space for sure, but the biggest benefit has definitely been the client reaction. They often walk in and say "Oooo, is this for me?" acknowledging how beautiful and comfortable it is. So, it has been worth every penny!
I see you recently did a brow training class! Is that an expansion for The Gatsby studio? What are your future plans for the business?
Darby: Training is such a huge focus for us! We launched the Academy simultaneously with The Gatsby Studio and certified over 100 artists in our first year! Since then, we have expanded with Advanced in person trainings for artists that want to elevate their skills with a custom, tailored training to fit their needs as well as bringing our courses online! The online platform has been incredible for our students and that has brought us so much opportunity to expand our ability to train. We have actually brought it onto a mobile app as well, so our students can keep up with their training on the go! It is updated regularly with everything that we discover, and we have new courses on the way soon! Right now, we focus on Microblading solely, but we will have Brow Lamination and Nano hitting soon!