SM Chats to… David Audsley of DAIO

Hands up who has been here: you’re all dressed up and ready to go out to a family lunch, the kids are mud-free, wearing shoes on the right feet and your husband has found his only tie that hasn’t been used as a bridle for the hobby-horse. You’re in the car, everyone is strapped in, you’ve even downsized to a clutch bag instead of a changing bag. All is good in the world until three miles down the road you have that panic moment: Aaaaargh, I left the straighteners on!

More to the point, who knew that hair straighteners – after hot drinks – are the second biggest culprits when it comes to burns accidents for children? Not to mention the amount of house fires which originate from these appliances.

Enter hairdresser, Dad and design hero David Audsley and his DAIO invention, which not only safely stores straighteners so that little hands can’t pry them out to play, but also keeps them safe whilst heating up, cooling down – or if you’ve had a ‘blonde moment’ and left them on.

We caught up with him to find out about the product, his work with charities and why owning a DAIO will lead to a lot less ‘Aaargh!’ in the world…

DAIO

SM: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, it’s a great product. We all have those OCD moments when it comes to straighteners, so we’re presuming your own partner had panic-moments too..?

David Audsley: Firstly, my pleasure and I’m really glad you like the product. Absolutely, but she probably didn’t panic often enough to be honest. The bedroom carpet, window sill and bedside table will vouch for that!

There was a particular moment when it really hit home for my wife and she realised how dangerous her straighteners could be and how easy it could be to have a nasty accident. My daughter Madison was two at the time and walked into the bathroom where my wife was getting ready grasping her straightening irons pretending to straighten her hair like mummy.

Luckily they hadn’t been on and weren’t plugged in because she actually picked them up and held them by the plates. It was a massive wake up call. It was then that I really started to develop the idea more and did massive amounts of research on child burns, house fires and the sheer amount of insurance claims from straightening irons… And it’s scary!

SM: How did the DAIO develop from an idea to a product?

David Audsley: The great thing about been a hairdresser with a busy column is that you get to meet lots of people with very different jobs. First of alI, I used my clients as a sounding board to see if they thought there was a need for the product. Just about everyone I spoke to had their own story about mishaps with heated hair appliances, varying in levels of seriousness.

I eventually spoke to one of my long standing clients Pat Mangion, who I knew had come from a marketing background but more importantly had developed new products from their infancy. To be honest I had all these notes and sketches of the product I wanted to make but had absolutely no clue who to speak to about it or how to move forward with it.

Pat has now become my marketing director and has held my hand through the whole process from concept to design to manufacturing the DAIO.

SM: Tell us about the connection with Lindholme Prison? (DAIO team is working with Lindholme Prison to provide work experience and job opportunities for offenders.)

David Audsley: On the DAIO journey we’ve been fortunate that a lot of people have wanted to help us and put us in touch with some key people. The Lindholme connection came off the back of a meeting the team had with a very helpful gentleman that worked for the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS). MAS helps UK start-ups with potential R&D grants and also offers sound advice on all aspects of manufacturing, planning & logistics in the UK.

When discussing logistics and pick and pack companies, he mentioned a government reform scheme that he thought could help us. The scheme not only makes the assembly of products a lot more affordable for UK start-ups but also helps to offer inmates potential employment whilst serving their sentence and also aims to provide employment for them on release.

The inmates that have assembled our product have done a fantastic job, taking a massive amount of care and pride in ensuring that it was done to a very high standard, for which we as a company are extremely grateful.

SM: And with the Child Accident Prevention Trust, what made you decide to donate profits? (£1 is donated for each DAIO sold)

David Audsley: We approached CAPT because when I was doing all my research, they seemed to be trying very hard to make parents and children aware of the dangers of hot hair appliances and working to prevent these accidents from happening.

When we met CAPT’s Chief Executive Katrina Phillips we all agreed we’d love to be able to help by donating an amount from each UK DAIO sold. She’s a lovely lady who is clearly passionate about the charity and the great work that her team does. This year we’re going to be involved with CAPT’s Child Safety week and hopefully help them spread the word and raise awareness on the importance of storing your hot hair tools before, during and after use.

SM: As a hairdresser rather than a product designer, did you ever think ‘all these accidents might be avoided if women just embraced the frizzy look’?

David Audsley: Ha ha! It’s an interesting idea, but not one I think will be massively embraced by women all over the world. It would definitely solve some of these problems though. I have clients that straighten their hair even when they wear it up so they have a super sleek ponytail.

With the way fashion and trends change seasonally, there’s always some weird & wonderful new hair tool coming to the market to aid you in achieving that catwalk for the high street look.

You only have to look at the arrival of hair wands and the comeback the tong has made over the last few years when the “beachy” tousled look and curls came massively back into fashion.

And those particular products really need to be handled and stored with care because essentially you’ve got a completely exposed 230 degree metal implement. At least straighteners have a little bit of plastic around them.

I’m pretty sure hot hair tools are here to stay in one form or another. I’ve seen the panic on women’s faces when their straighteners break and heard them debate even leaving the house or going on a night out without straightened hair.

SM: What do your own children think of the DAIO?

David Audsley: I’ve got 2 children. My son Dylan is nearly 11 and Madison is only 4 and they’ve both got very different opinions about the DAIO.

Dylan thinks it great because I’ve been fortunate to have got some great coverage in the local and regional newspapers, online and had the opportunity to do a fab radio interview recently. In his mind that means his Dad’s famous (or that’s what him and his year 5 classmates think…) that’s good enough for me. Joking aside, I think he’s really proud, he understands and has seen how much time I’ve devoted to developing the DAIO as well as juggling 12 hours a day stood behind a chair cutting/colouring hair in my salon to fund the DAIO project over the last 2 years.

Madison on the other hand thinks I’m a spoil sport because she can’t play with mummy’s hair straighteners anymore because she can’t get them out of my wife’s DAIO clamped safely out of her way! But actually as times gone on it’s more “out of sight, out of mind.” Because the irons are no longer balanced strategically over the edge of my bedside cabinet, they’re not at the forefront of her mind.

SM: What’s next for you and the brand?

David Audsley: For the brand, it’s about getting the message out there and building the DAIO brand across the UK and Europe initially. We’re are also working hard behind the scenes on our next two products and looking to increase our production capacity for the DAIO so we can do a full scale campaign on the market and get DAIOs in homes everywhere hopefully.

For me, I’m hoping to spend a lot less time in the salon over the coming year and hopefully be even more hands on with the brand. I want to be able to action all the above as the DAIO starts to gain more traction.

Order your DAIO here.