01 November 2012 by

Exclusive Interview With Tangle Teezer Inventor Shaun Pulfrey

The Man Behind The Hair Tool Of The Moment

If there's one product that no Grazia girl is ever without, it's the Tangle Teezer. Yep, we're well and truly hooked on them and have one in every essential spot imaginable - desk, bathroom shelf, handbag, you name it. Our desert island must-have would without a doubt come in the shape of this trusty little detangling friend and since Grazia Team Beauty owns over two metres worth of hair between us, it's paramount that we avoid knots, tangles and tears at all times.

A Selection Of Tangle Teezers We Found On Our Desk

So, you can imagine the sheer excitement when we were offered a one-to-one meeting with Mr. Tangle Teezer himself, more commonly known as Shaun Pulfrey. He's built a multi-million pound invention that's changed the hair industry (and women's daily beauty routines) as we know it and created one of the most clever hair tools to date. We went to get the inside scoop of his miracle invention, his gruelling Dragon's Den rejection and his upcoming trip to meet the Queen...

Grazia Daily: Shaun, tell us how it all came about?

Shaun Pulfrey: Well I trained at Vidal Sassoon years ago. This really gave me my work ethic and training and taught me the importance of presentation and perseverance. Even when you thought it was perfect you'd be made to do it again and again and again. And this was actually fundamental to me. My work then took me all across the globe as a hair colourist but it was in Boston where I was at the backwash of the salon one day that I had a light bulb moment.

GD: So, what was the light bulb moment?!!

SP: Well I realised that there needed to be a detangling tool that was like a mixture of a brush and a comb. There were all these assistants trying to comb through long, freshly coloured hair that was full of knots and regular brushes and combs just didn't cut it. It had to be something with flexible teeth that didn't lock in the tangles or pull or snag.

GD: So that was when you got to work on making the Tangle Teezer?

SP: I was back in England and started working on my idea. I used to spend all my time in the British Library thinking if it was unique and patentable and the right design. I basically lived in the Library for a solid year studying design books and really working it all out. And after that, I worked with design engineers and manufacturers to make it come to life. (The Tangle Teezer is made up of 400 teeth in a unique structure that glides through hair).

GD: We're dying to know about the dreaded Dragon's Den episode back in 2007 in which they completely shunned your idea!

SP: Oh yes! Well I pitched my idea to them and asked for £80,000 in return for 10% of the business and they didn't go with it. I said it would be great for women, especially those who colour their hair like Deborah Meaden at which point she denied having her hair coloured at all! (Come on Debs, we know that might be stretching the truth a little bit GD). Deborah said she has a similar brush in her horse's stable and Peter Jones branded it a "hair-brained idea".  (Missed a trick there didn’t you Dragons! GD)

GD: And did you feel disheartened after you were rejected?

SP: Not at all. I never gave up hope or questioned myself at any moment. I just decided to finance the whole thing myself and remortgaged my flat (Shaun has never taken a bank loan). The irony is that Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne's kids now use them!

GD: And what would you say was your big breakthrough then?

SP: It was actually at The Clothes Show in Birmingham where I had a stand and there was someone there who was an undercover Boots buyer. They bought one and tried it and absolutely loved it and then Boots got in touch with me. I went to meet their team and they decided that they wanted to stock the tool so ordered them for 200 of their stores across the country in our black colour. They sold a few but I told them to try selling the pink one (a Grazia favourite! GD) so they did and sold a lot more. And it all sort of grew from there.

GD: Wow. That's amazing Shaun. So what's next?

SP: Well we're really excited about the growth of the business - we've turned over £10.8 million this year and are bringing out different versions and styles of Tangle Teezers in the near future. We're also doing some research and development with heat - think styling but not as you know it! I'm also unbelievably excited that we've been nominated for a Queen's Award and am actually going to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen in November.

GD: Congratulations Shaun, we're thrilled for you. Do you think the Queen uses a Tangle Teezer?

SP: I'm not too sure although we have had web orders to Buckingham Palace so who knows... (maybe that's K-Middy's hair secret!). Our factory is actually based down where the Prime Minister lives in Whitby, Oxfordshire, and I know that the Camerons use them. Nigella Lawson also bought lots in the early days too.

GD: All the best people use them! And tell us, what did you do with your first pay cheque from Tangle Teezer?

SP: I bought my mum a caravan! She really wanted one and I just thought I was too busy to spend any money so I wanted to splash out on her. She's been such an instrumental part of the business and helped me the whole way so I wanted to get her something special and that's what she wanted.

GD: Your lucky mum! Do you feel like your life has changed from it all?

SP: Yes I guess it has in lots of ways but not really. I just bought myself a house in Clapham and I love nice watches. I can fly me and my mum business class now which is a real luxury but I haven't changed that dramatically. I still think I am very feet on the ground. I did recently win a silent auction bid in aid of Breast Cancer Care that was to spend a day with the Great British Bake Off winner which is hugely exciting!

SHAUN'S TOP 5:

1. Beauty products - L'Occitane for the body, Perricone for my face and also I adore Famous Dave's Fake Tan.
 
2. Hair products - Percy & Reed. They're packaging is very cool.
 
3. Restaurant - The Wolsley and Century are top on my list.
 
4. Clothes - Oswald Boateng - I've just got a beautiful brown suit with bright purple lining for my day at Buckingham Palace.
5. Car - I've got a Smart car which is brilliant but I saw an Audi R8 recently and I'm thinking about buying a black one!

Comments

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Queen of Easy Green (Thu Nov 01 17:04:47 GMT 2012): Great story and congratulations Shaun. As an inventor myself, I know how difficult and how much hard work and effort it takes to get a new product onto the High Street. Wishing you every success for the future.
Nicolas N. Jovanovic (Sat Feb 23 11:14:08 GMT 2013): congrtulasion.......