By: Beth Browne
Some people can take a tragedy and turn it into a triumph. Alison Moran did exactly that and she did it in record time and with aplomb. In December of last year Moran was a stay-at-home mother of three young children when her husband closed their bank accounts, took off and left her. She needed an income and she needed it quick. Desperate, Moran connected with a friend in Florida who was running a small business doing airbrush tanning and she decided she would try going into that business for herself.
In January, Moran went to Florida to train with her friend. After this hands-on training, Moran got licensed online, which enabled her to get insurance for her business. She designed her own website, borrowed start-up money from her family and by March she was open for business. She says she was nervous about doing tanning in Asheville because, she laughs, “A lot of people here don’t even shave!” She decided that if she were going to be successful in Asheville, her products would have to be organic, so she chose a company called Kahuna Bay Tan and became a distributor of their organic tanning solutions. Moran is proud to use their products and says that The Kahuna Bay Tan solutions are the same ones used by the Miss America Pageant and at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
Moran says she’s been very pleased with the quality of the solutions, which, she says, “leave your skin feeling better than it did before.” The solution is derived from beets, brown sugar, and cane sugar. It also has white and green tea extracts, aloe vera, and vitamins A, C, and E. The active ingredient is dihydroxyacetone (DHA), an ingredient approved for use by the FDA. The DHA reacts with the natural amino acids in the top layer of your skin, producing the look of a nice brown tan.
Moran stresses that the color is a rich, natural-looking brown. Moran says a key part of the training is matching the solution to the customer’s skin tone, something she takes pride in doing well. Moran is also quick to stress that a spray tan does not provide UV protection, so her customers need to be vigilant about keeping out of the sun or using sunscreen to protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun.
Kahuna Bay Tan was founded by Andrea Licata-Bernath, a skin cancer survivor who is now very active in educating the public about the dangers of tanning beds. Moran says a number of her customers are also melanoma survivors, often resulting from the use of tanning beds. Moran says she’s never been in a tanning bed, but she likes to be airbrush tanned because she’s “really, really pale, like see-through white.”
Moran says tanning can be a real morale booster. She had one client who came to her before undergoing gastric bypass surgery. Other clients have come to her before surgery because being tan makes them feel better. She says it makes people feel good when they look good and that makes her feel good too.
The spraying takes about ten minutes and then it has to dry for five minutes, so it’s a very quick process. She says the solution reacts with the outer layer of skin in a development process that is “sort of like how an apple turns brown when it’s exposed to air.” The tan typically lasts five to seven days. For special occasions, or as an extra, Moran offers an optional Glitter spray which she calls “bling bling” that comes in four different colors.
Customers can tan fully naked, unless they are under 18, in which case clothing is required, or wearing a thong (Moran has disposables she can provide) or in an old bathing suit depending on their comfort level. She once did spray tans for a group of vacationers in their hotel and at first they were very modest and wanted to be sprayed one at a time in one room, but by the end, Moran says, “They were all standing around naked saying ‘you look great!’ to each other.” She’s found she has a knack for making people feel comfortable, an added benefit. Moran also offers “Glow Parties” in which the host gets to tan for free if she brings in four friends. These are popular with brides who want to look great on their big day and want their bridal party to look good too.
The majority of her customers are older than she thought they would be. Moran speculates that this might be because the younger people are not aware of the dangers of tanning in the sun or in tanning beds. She has a wide variety of customers, from thirty to sixty years old and from ninety to four hundred pounds. Surprisingly, she says 30% of her customers are men. Moran is impressed by this and says, “I want more of them to do this, especially if they’re going around without their shirts on!”
“I never thought it’s what I’d be doing when I grew up,” Moran says. “I sold insurance for ten years and it did not make my heart happy at all. I love tanning because even if someone is not having a good day, it seems like they’re always happier after they get a spray tan. It makes me feel good because they feel good.”
Tans on the Glow can be found at scheduled times at Willow’s Dream, The Rush, and L.A. Nails, but mostly Moran goes to her clients at home, in hotels or even at the office, using her mobile set-up, which includes a pop-up tent. The tent helps her keep the work area clean. She says she once had a client with brand-new white carpeting and was very nervous about spraying there. But the tent did the trick and she says there were no stains on the carpet at all.
Moran has been very successful as a new business owner and is already making a profit after just eight months. She been active in promoting her business and it has grown at a steady pace. She says she chose the name for the business because she liked the word “Glow” and because she’s mobile and “on the go.” It also relates to her moving on in her personal life, from dependence on her ex, to self-sufficiency. Her current goals include expanding her distributorship of the Kahuna Bay Products. and getting on with some cruise lines. You can find her online at: www.tansontheglow.com.
Beth Browne writes because she just can’t help herself. Her two kids wish she liked cooking as much as writing. In her spare time she enjoys sailing with her salty mate, Eric, and blogging at: http://bbwomenswrites.blogspot.com.