For 24-year-old entrepreneur Darby Whiting, starting a microblading business in the midst of a pandemic came with some unique challenges but has ultimately been a very rewarding experience. (Contributed photo)

For 24-year-old entrepreneur Darby Whiting, starting a microblading business in the midst of a pandemic came with some unique challenges but has ultimately been a very rewarding experience. (Contributed photo)

Young entrepreneur’s new microblading business taking shape

For Darby Whiting, 24, rewards of launching mid-pandemic have outweighed risks

It’s not that common for someone to start their own business at the age of 24 – let alone in the midst of a pandemic.

But for Darby Whiting – who already had four years of practical experience as a microblading cosmetic tattoo artist and a fast-growing client base – the time was nonetheless right to consider opening a studio of her own.

Her childhood dream of owning her own business on White Rock’s waterfront came true in February with the opening of The Gatsby Studio at 14815 Marine Dr. – only a few blocks from where she grew up.

Microblading, she explained, is the most natural and hairlike form of semi-permanent eyebrow tattooing.

“We also offer scalp micro-pigmentation, the process of tattooing tiny dots in to the scalp to mimic hair follicles, which has quickly become a leading solution to hair loss,” she added.

Whiting said that, while she had been renting a bed in an existing studio, and considering a similar arrangement at another studio, the idea of opening her own space began to take shape.

“I had many people tell me it was crazy to try this right now, not only questioning my age, but also telling me that ‘times are tough right now’ and ‘people aren’t spending’,” she said.

Ultimately, she rejected pessimism.

“I couldn’t be bothered worrying about a situation that the whole world is dealing with together,” Whiting said.

“We have to push forward and live our lives no matter what difficulties lie ahead.”

Finding a location in one of the newest buildings on the Marine Drive strip offered its own set of challenges, she said – she soon realized that the venture would be “the total opposite of a ‘quick open.’”

Undaunted, she and her small team (her mother, father and boyfriend) got to work designing and building The Gatsby from scratch.

“A huge part of my vision was to have a place that felt ultra ‘luxury’ while maintaining a laid-back atmosphere,” she said.

COVID-19 impacted each part of the process of acquiring permits and approvals from the City of White Rock and ensuring that the studio met Fraser Health standards, Whiting said.

“Regulations, rules and restrictions are changing almost daily, so keeping up with that, while trying to design a new space, build a new business model and keep working out of a temporary space was extremely difficult and quite overwhelming at times.”

But Whiting said she’s proud of the result and how it came together from start to finish in only three months – even with the pandemic.

“I couldn’t be more grateful to be open during a time like this,” she said.

“Our capacity is restricted just like the rest of the businesses at the moment but a lot of businesses are struggling, while we enjoy regular traffic.”

Helping clients improve their eyebrows is just about the only beauty service that makes a difference at a time when everyone is wearing a mask, she pointed out, adding that – because of current health regulations – she has had to learn to apply eyebrows to a client’s face, without ever seeing the whole face.

“Because we can’t have clients remove their mask at any time while we are working with them, all of my measurements, drawings and (preliminary) work before actually tattooing their brows is done with only the eyes as a guide.

“(It’s) taught me things about my work that I never would have understood before,” she said.

“It really showed me just how much information we can get from the brow of a person and how it displays their eyes. While I used to examine someone’s entire face, I now find myself getting almost a purer form of inspiration from focusing solely on their eyes, and I feel like my work has benefited from this, in a way.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Just Posted

Missing Surrey man Bernard Grempel. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)
Surrey RCMP seeks help to find missing man

Bernard Grempel was reported missing on Sunday and hasn’t been seen since Friday

A Surrey man has been charged with assault. (West Vancouver Police)
Surrey man charged after 17-year-old slashed with knife in West Vancouver park

Akash Ram, 19, charged with assault following May 2020 incident

This photo of murder victim Paul Prestbakmo was taken on a recent birthday, not far from where he was found with fatal wounds in August 2019. (Cory Brideau photo)
Verdict expected today for youths accused of killing South Surrey mechanic

Paul Prestbakmo was stabbed to death in August 2019

Semiahmoo First Nation archeology manager Don Welsh (left) sifts through shell midden at a Crescent Beach site in August 2019. (File photo)
Semiahmoo First Nation to repatriate 200 ancestors

B.C. grant funding return of remains from Simon Fraser University

The City of Surrey partnered with the Work Zone Safety Alliance last year to remind drivers to slow down in construction zones. (File photo)
White Rock, Surrey motorists asked to slow down in ‘cone zones’

Provincewide campaign encouraging residents to be mindful of construction workers

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Cat who chases away coyote asked to join Port Moody, Vancouver police 

Caught on camera Friday, the black cat jumps out from under a parked car and runs the wild animal out of a vacant lot

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Black Press Media files)
Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began

6 in every 10,000 Canadians died of COVID-19 since March 9, 2020

Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
14-year-old boy killed in serious ATV crash near 100 Mile House

Youth was travelling with a group of peers when the incident occurred last Friday

Relief is coming for B.C.’s struggling tourism sector. (NEWS file photo)
B.C. officials set to announce more support for tourism sector hit hard by pandemic

Non-essential travel is restricted between three regional zones in B.C. until at least May 24

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from “F9.” (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie is making a comeback this summer

Excitement in the industry is growing again for a return to a big-screen normal

Most Read