Meet the Founder: David Sparkes, The Gruff Stuff
We caught up with THE GRUFF STUFF Founder, David Sparkes to find out about his journey to creating this phenomenal unisex skincare brand, and what the future holds…
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a born and bred Mancunian (UK) still based here with my long suffering partner and Wheaten Terrier Reggie! I started life in the beauty industry working as a Christmas temp for Chanel.
What is the most memorable job you have ever had?
I took a 1 year sabbatical from working at Crème de la Mer and spent 6 months working for a coral reef conservation company scuba diving each day to collect data in tropical waters. I then joined a 6 star cruise ship in Singapore for a further 6 months working as the onboard makeup artist/ skincare specialist. Amazing opportunity to see the world and meet people from all walks of life.
What inspired you to create a skincare brand?
After working for numerous beauty brands, I was inspired to create a simple yet result driven brand as an alternative to the many brands with extensive product portfolios, promoting complex skincare routines.
Where did the name come from – The Gruff Stuff?
The name was something that I spent a lot of time thinking about. Nothing felt right, then after months of deliberation I woke up with ‘THE GRUFF STUFF’ swirling around my head. I always go with my gut feeling and this one seemed perfect! Interestingly we’ve found it’s easily pronounced in many different languages and of course memorable.
What was your aim when you came up with the idea to launch The Gruff Stuff?
THE GRUFF STUFF offers a unique approach to skincare, by stripping your routine back to basics. We offer only a capsule range of three result driven products for the face, eyes and body.
What was your most “pinch-me” moment since you launched the brand?
This was actually something that happened quite recently. We were putting together a pack of information for our nomination for the Pure Beauty Global Awards 2021 for the category of Best New International Breakthrough Brand and we realised we now are sold in 30 countries around the world. This really made me take stock and realise what has been achieved since our launch 16 months ago.
What is the one product in the range that you see as your masterpiece?
I live for THE EYE BALM, so much so I’ve used it all over my face! The formula is utterly bliss and the active ingredients deliver everything they say they will.
How important is it to you that consumers recognise The Gruff Stuff as a unisex brand?
I believe skincare should not be limited to gender, we all have skin. Whats more important is that I wanted to have a skincare brand that is vegan, fuss free, natural, innovative and delivers result driven formulas. As we are made for sensitive skin and it is dermatologically tested, our products are available for everyone.
What is the biggest mistake you made since the start of your entrepreneurial journey?
Your contacts that you believed would support you on your journey never do. My biggest piece of advice is that you should never believe that someone will ‘get back to you’. Chase them until you get an answer.
Who do you admire most in business and why?
Ricardo Semler is a CEO of a Brazilian company who fired almost all of top management and passed the power to the worker. Allowing them to approve expenditure, hire management themselves and work as a democracy. This strategy made a $4million business into a $200million+ business. The workers accepted reduced wages for a greater share of the profits. I’m a firm believer that people make business happen, so those that put in should be rewarded for their successes and not with a £20 amazon gift card.
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