About AvenTOM Ltd - by Tom Pellereau
Since the age of four I wanted to be an inventor. I’ve always loved fixing things and trying to make life easier for people. My big break came in 2011 when I won the BBC Apprentice and became Lord Sugar’s first business partner and gaining £250,000 investment. In August 2011 Lord Sugar and I started AvenTOM ltd with the aim of REINVENTING Beauty accessories. Since then we’ve launched and sold almost 2,000,000 Stylfiles. The curved Stylfile was originally inspired by watching my sister struggle with trying to file the nails on her non dominant hand. From this start point we launched ‘Trim without the ping’ nail clippers, baby nail clippers with a safety spy hole so you can see what you’re clipping and the world’s 1st Moisturising nail file.
To help get feedback on my ideas I run focus groups with hand-picked beauty super-users. At the end I always ask “is there anything you would like me to invent?”. One guest immediately said: “Please, please can you create something that makes it fast and easy to clean makeup brushes?” I quickly discovered that washing makeup brushes is a messy and fiddly task that everyone loathes doing – and that makeup professionals and lovers can have hundreds of brushes in their kit bags!
Even worse is that some consumers NEVER wash their brushes, meaning that they’re literally painting their faces with bacteria!
Having never used a makeup brush I’d never really considered cleaning them. However the problem fascinated me and I wanted to know how much bacteria was on the average brush. I managed to persuade a collection of local professionals, beauty stores and consumers to lend me their brushes and asked a lab to test them. Having previously invented products to tackle superbugs in hospitals I had a few contacts at labs and knew only too well the dangerous of bacteria.
The bacteria test results were astonishing! Of the 35 brushes tested - over ½ had high levels of bacteria, 1/3 had dangerous levels and two had more than you might expect to find on a toilet brush! I then read about a case where someone was paralysed by MRSA she contracted by using a friends makeup brush.
This set me on a mission to develop the fastest and most efficient makeup brush cleaner. I carried out more focus groups and one-to-one sessions with both professionals and consumers. The more people we spoke to, the clearer it became that while cleaning the brushes is a problem, the biggest issue is drying them. A lot of people were put off washing their brushes because they think they’ll still be wet when they want to use them again 24 hours later. I knew I had to invent something that not only cleaned brushes thoroughly, but dried them at lightning speed too.
Due to the huge range of makeup brushes on the market it took thousands of prototypes and hours of testing to get it right. I’ve got huge cupboards full of concepts that did quiet work. Two years later the StylPro was born.
I have been blown away by the response since launching the StylPro mark 1. Apparently it became the most Googled term worldwide in the cosmetics category in Australia last week with Marie Claire describing it “Game-Changing New Beauty Product”. We even beat GHD in OK! Beauty Best Electrical Awards but missed out on the top spot to the Dyson hair dryer. For me this is just the start, I have dreams of a totally automatic brush cleaner, but that may take a little time.
However the most important things is - please please clean your makeup brushes more often as it is very possible that the spot you are trying to conceal with makeup is there because of the makeup brush you are using to cover it!
Hints and tips:
How often should I clean my brushes? For professional use, you should deep clean your brushes in between every client. Some use sanitising sprays on their brushes between clients. However whilst these sprays are effective against bacteria when tested in a lab out test showed they made almost no difference to bacteria levels on a brush. I personally think sprays are a waste of time and give a false impression that something is clean when it is not.
When can I use soap and water, when should I use a cleanser? For power or water soluble makeup anti bacterial soap and water will remove makeup easily. However for liquid makeups, especially long stay foundation, soap has almost no effect. To remove these you will need some form of cleaner. I discovered this to my embarrassment when I met Lisa Eldridge about 6 months into my development. I thought I was making pretty good progress until she gave me an Estee Lauder Doublewear coated brush to clean. My then invention did literally nothing ! I had to go back to the drawing board and not only create a new device, but also a gentle yet effective cleanser with conditioning agents.