No stranger to adversity, Kevin Mack, once dreamt of being a dirt bike athlete at the age of 25 but after experiencing a freak accident that broke his back, Kevin Mack, was forced to find another dream.
Kevin developed an interest in art and fell in love with tattoos and after a short stint owning a tattoo parlour, Kevin left his dream of being a tattoo artist and instead decided to pursue an e-commerce business.
In 2012, Kevin launched Tatsup, an online tattoo supply business, that supplies tattoo machinery, inks, and after care products to tattoo studios. In his early days in business Kevin spent hours cold calling potential customers who might be interested in his tattoo supplies. He experienced multiple rejections. Kevin spent months seeing little progress in his business before things started to pick up.
Now with over 6 profitable shows and a successful e-commerce business behind him, we asked Kevin for his advice on how he overcomes challenging times in business.
“You need to believe in yourself.”
“When COVID-19 began it meant the beginning of another uphill battle.” Says Founder of Tatsup, Kevin Mack. “How will I be able to support myself, my family, my community, and businesses during this uncertain period?”
During the beginning of the pandemic, many event, creative, service and F&B businesses were severely impacted, particularly in Australia where some businesses did not receive any government funding as they fell short of the threshold criteria.
”You need to believe in yourself.” Advises Kevin. “Nothing great in your life will ever come easy and challenges will always be there. But believing in yourself is where you need to start. You have to believe that you can make this work. Once you develop that mindset it will create a thought process that will encourage you to find your way through whatever problem you’re facing.”
Kevin’s two businesses, Tatsup, a national tattoo supply e-commerce business and Australian Exhibition Group, an event group that run a series of tattoo festivals and cultural expos were severally impacted by the pandemic. At the start of 2020, after a profitable year in 2019, Kevin Mack had to pause all plans to run his events for the year. Venue deposits were lost, staff had to be reassigned and event ideas had to be put on hold.
Thousands of businesses in the event industry were losing millions of dollars by the day, with no indication of when the pandemic would end or how to work through it.
“….Your ability to be resourceful in times of crisis will determine whether or not your business will survive.”
“It was hard at the start of COVID-19 the pandemic was only just beginning and we weren’t too sure how long it would last.” Shares Kevin thoughtfully, “but I tell you what, hard times show you a person’s true character. My advice? Look around you, develop some awareness for your life and surroundings and look at what you can learn that can help you get to where you need to be.”
“It is your ability to be resourceful in times of crisis that will determine whether or not your business will survive.” Kevin Mack advises. “Diamonds are made under pressure and so are great leaders.”
Kevin spent months developing his knowledge on trading in order to find the resources to ensure his businesses would survive the pandemic. He also spent some time liquidating whatever assets he had available and sold precious personal belongings.
“I spent most of my time learning about the stock market and I still spend time trading now.” Shares Kevin. He laughs as he recounts the terminology he had to learn at the beginning of his trading journey. It’s evident that what started out as a lifeline has become an enjoyable hobby.
“Believing in yourself is half the job, the other half is using your resources, this is how you survive.” Says Kevin. “But the most important part and one thing I’m truly grateful for is this, you have to surround yourself people who also believe in you.” He smiles as he introduces me to his partner. “She’s been my biggest fan. She’s always had my back and continues to support me and our small family in so many ways.”
Kevin recently held two of his annual tattoo events; Rites of Passage in Melbourne on 22-24 April and the Sydney Tattoo Festival on 1 April. Both events received in excess of 10,000 patrons in attendance. What started out as a difficult time in his business has turned into a positive as Kevin continues to apply his resilient approach to challenges he faces in life at every cross road he experiences in business.