Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Vallen Cordon, Owner of Dr. Val The PMU Surgeon, located in Suffolk, VA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I'm a licensed Permanent Cosmetics and Paramedical Tattoo artist and educator. I provide cosmetic tattoo services not only to those desiring permanent esthetic makeup but also to paramedical tattoos, including 3D areola tattoos, scar camouflage tattoos, and paramedical eyebrow enhancements for those who have experienced illness or surgery. I am also a permanent cosmetics educator, providing education to aspiring and existing permanent cosmetics artists on the science and theory that underlies permanent cosmetics through my online course Dr. Val's Ultimate PMU Fundamentals Bootcamp.

Tell us about yourself

Well, first and foremost, I am a believer and lover of God, a mother of 5 beautiful children, and wife to Gary, my amazing business partner. I got interested in permanent cosmetics after having my own brows microshaded (a form of tattooing). After a 15-year career as a public school educator, in the midst of a pandemic, I went and received my certification and state license in permanent cosmetics. After taking my first 2-day training and then my state 100-hour course, I realized that there was still so much more that I wanted and needed to know. That was my motivation to go on a deep dive into the science and theory aspect of all permanent makeup and paramedical techniques, which is what led me to develop my own course. I believe it is my love and passion for education and my expertise in education that separates me from so many other artists. I am motivated each day first and foremost to build a legacy for my children and future posterity, but I am also motivated by being able to provide services that were once considered solely esthetic to individuals who have experienced such traumatic illnesses as cancer. When I am able to simulate a breast cancer survivor's areola and nipple with a tattoo, and she looks and me and says, "You have given me the last piece I need to complete my journey of rebuilding what this disease took from me"… man … THAT motivates me to never stop!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment actually just happened on September 8 of this year. As a relatively new artist, I was offered the opportunity to take the stage alongside veterans in this industry and even some of my own mentors and speak to over 100 artists from all over the world (even as far as Africa) at the PMU Women of Color Conference held in Atlanta, GA. That meant so much to me because when you're still considered new in an industry, you are often told that you need to sit and be quiet and made to feel like you can't offer anything to advance the industry because you're new. But that's simply not true! I feel like when I took that stage, I represented every eager artist that comes into this industry ready to blaze his or her own trail!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

I feel consistency is one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner. Owning a business is not for the faint at heart it is an emotional rollercoaster for sure! And with the ups and downs, the months when business is booming immediately followed by months when you can barely get a client/customer, you have to continue to give it your all at every peak and valley consistently. There have been so many times I have been discouraged in business, but I just keep reminding myself to be consistent, keep giving it my all, and the business will continue to grow. Also, during those down times, rather than being discouraged, I had to train myself to use that time to practice my craft, innovate new ways to better my business overall, reflect on what's working and what may not be working, and just keep my mind from being idle.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Invest in BUSINESS education … Not just your particular skill or product but learning the ins and outs of how to manage your business… Business structure, bookkeeping, proper insurance, finding a tax strategist … things of that nature
  2. Protect your brand… Trademark your stuff! Just filing your business name does not protect you like a trademark.
  3. Visibly posted Policies and Terms & Conditions (e.g., on your website) are your best friends!

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

The last thing I would share with a business owner, especially a new one, is that there is only ONE you! It does not matter how "saturated" your industry is; no one can do it the way YOU do! Don't be discouraged by who is also doing it. You do YOU!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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