Tuesday 17 September 2019

Want your ink past to fade away? New tattoo removal studio opens on Dublin's Grafton St

Shauna O'Neill and Aidan O'Connell
Shauna O'Neill and Aidan O'Connell
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

A NEW store has opened its doors on Grafton St - and it is perhaps the only one that you'll walk away with less than when you entered after your transaction.

Aptly-named Fade was launched the week before Christmas by its founders who believed there was a gap in the market for quality, and relatively painless, tattoo removal.

Former management consultant Aidan O'Connell teamed up with Shauna O'Neill after his business advisor put them in touch, "like an arranged marriage".

"Last year, one of my friends was getting his tattoo removed and was telling me about the consultation prices and the procedure. It intrigued me so I started looking into it," Aidan told Independent.ie.

After researching types of laser removal in Hong Kong and the US, and looking at what was required in terms of qualifications and funding, Aidan then spoke to a tattoo removal studio in Derry which was using a treatment which he believed was the best in the industry.

"I visited UberSkin and I spoke with people about their experiences in getting their tattoo removed, and what exactly where their fears and requirements, and I eventually came up with a business case," he said.

Before and After using PicoLase Credit: Cynosure
Before and After using PicoLase Credit: Cynosure

The Northern Ireland-based store was using FDA-approved laser technology PicoSure that uses short bursts of energy for the removal of tattoos. It can also be used for the removal of moles, acne scars, and age spots, as well as the reduction of wrinkles.

After approaching a number of banks and investors who all showed positive interest in the studio plan, Aidan was put in touch with Shauna who had just returned from Australia and was looking for the right business opportunity. And they've had a busy few months.

"Since last summer, we completed all the anatomy and physiology exams and the appropriate laser training for using the PicoSure machine," said Aidan.

"There are currently no regulations in Ireland in terms of laser but we complied with all the regulations for Northern Ireland and the UK when building the studio so that when they do come in we're ready."

Before and After using PicoLase Credit: Cynosure
Before and After using PicoLase Credit: Cynosure

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PicoSure's energy bursts ("pressure as oppose to heat") cause the tattoo ink break apart into tiny particles which are then eliminated by the body. Its treatment has been considered more effective than on colourful and deep set tattoos than traditional lasers.

"The success rate is practically 100pc. It may take a bit of time but PicoSure doesn't leave 'ghosting' or scarring on the skin. You can expect to have it back to the exact same way," he said.

In terms of competition, Aidan acknowledges that Fade may not be the cheapest studio in Ireland, but he maintains that its central locations and high standards set it apart. But are the clients coming through the doors?

"We had intended on launching at the start of December but the machine was only delivered on Christmas week so that's when we opened the doors," he said.

"It doesn't really matter when you open though, there's always something that will hold you back."

The business duo's main aim now is to ramp up the client list and create a pipeline. And they are not just relying on their relatively prolific communication on social media.

"We are getting a lot of referrals by word of mouth from clients and other beauty studios around Dublin that do not offer the service," said Aidan.

"Good tattoo studios also understand the different laser technologies and will recommend their clients to book in with us if they would like some fading of their tattoos before getting a cover up or if they just want to erase a tattoo."

But Aidan said he was surprised by the clients that have visited the studio thus far.

"This is a funny one. When I looked at this business I thought that we would be seeing 35-45 year olds suffering from ink regret from their youth.

"But it actually ranges from 18 to 68 year olds, we think our average client is between 20 and 28 years. The ratio of female to male clients is also 2:3."

Fade (https://www.fadelaser.com/) offers its first consultation, complete with patch test, for free - with treatment sessions starting from €80.

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