At the start of Rose & Caramel I spent countless hours making variations of tanning liquids. You name it I tried it, from adding a ton of glycerine to try & be the most moisturising solution (which resulted in the solution never drying) – to adding ridiculous amounts of witch hazel for it to be the fastest drying solution, that came with it being the worst smelling (the smell of witch hazel still knocks me sick to this day.) Luckily for me Carmel was the model for each and every one of my concoctions. As you can imagine she didn’t see a pale day for quite some time!
I didn’t just want to put my name on a tan I wanted to create something worth while that stood out in the tanning world. I wanted it to be the fastest drying, most hydrating, longest lasting, loveliest colour of tan ever!! I was dead set that this solution would be something I was proud of. After endless trials on friends, family & even my amazing customers I finally made a solution that I was happy with.
I don’t use fragarance in Rose & Caramel tanning products and that’s purely because I believe the less unnecessary ingredients that go into a tan the better, in all honestly if you diluted DHA into tap water and sprayed it onto your skin you’d go brown, and you could get a perfectly even tan, but (before all the cosmetologists pipe up) it wouldn’t be the correct way to do this, it would massively dry out your skin & the wear off would be scaly, but you understand what I’m saying, it would work. Plus, personally I think if you try to mask the development odour of fake tan (that most of you call biscuit smell) it actually enhances the smell and ends up making you smell more. So in my opinion to leave a fragarance out gives a reduced development odour.
Now my problem throughout my whole life is wanting to run before I can walk, my dad made the mistake of making me believe as a child I could achieve anything I set my mind to & to some extent is great advice but this has lead me to far to many failures!! But after every set back I got up and tried again, and believe me there has been a fair few, maybe il go into some of those another time! So anyway back to me wanting to run… as soon as I started to get good feedback in the salon from my hand made spray tan solution I whacked it straight on eBay, thought everyone would think this solution was the best ever. I think it sold around 3 litres a week (on a good week) but obviously that wasn’t enough for me.
I then started to look into having the solution manufactured into aerosol cans (the obvious next step when you have 6 eBay clients & no money). A big seller in the salon was the tan in a can, so I wanted to be selling my own. I found a company online called star line and rang them straight away. The lady who answered the phone was called Joy, I explained to her about my spray tan solution (it was called Tan Therapy at the time) and asked for a price on aerosols. She was totally disinterested in talking to me I remember the conversation so well, her words were; “spray tanning is a saturated market and there is no money in making your own solution unless you’ve invented something that’s never been done before and unfortunately the big tanning companies have exhausted every avenue.’ Swiftly after that she ended the phone call.
I felt deflated I had honestly thought my solution would be manufactured into aerosols and be the next big tan, quite clearly not (plus I had no where near enough money to fund a minimum run of 1000 aerosol cans which Joy dropped into the convo before hanging up). I was now running 3 shops, a hair salon, a tanning salon and a cafe that resulted in me making little more than minimum wage between all 3. Plus I was working 70 hour weeks & killing myself trying to make the best false tan in the world! Like I said my work ethic is great but I have never had patience, if I did I might of worked a lot smarter and got a lot further a lot faster.
So feeling like a bit of a failure I focused on the shops and sold the tan in the salon to my customers & a little bit on eBay. Months passed & then one day a college got in touch and said they were interested in training their students with Tan Therapy. I was soo excited this could of been a break into selling the solution in bulk and getting repeat custom, as giving out samples was costing more than gaining at the time. They tried the samples and loved it, an order of 50 litres was made straight away it seemed so easy! I was so happy, to me this was HUGE!
By this time the cafe had closed down, it was a pretty big unit & I’d turned it into a lab where I made all the tan it was like a replica of Mr Alexander’s kitchen but on a bigger scale. Even though I was happy with the solution I was selling, I never stopped inventing new tanning products & solutions I’d stand for hours in there mixing creams, gels, sprays trying to do something spectacular! So off I went & mixed 50 litres for the big college order.
The day came for Malcolm (my customer from the college) to pick up the order. Everything was fine & he left with the solution. 5 days later Malcolm rang & asked if I had I give him the right solution?! Apparently it had been used in the college and all the girls were red!!! Yes, red!!! I was like ‘whatttttt’ I went straight into the cafe (my lab) & looked at the pre made cosmetic colour that I had ordered from my supplier, it said brown on the front but it had the brightest red tinge to it you’d ever seen. My heart hit the floor yet again, I had well n truly screwed this up and even though it wasn’t fully my fault it was a huge learning curve. The company had sent me a different shade of brown & I didn’t check it. From that day forward I pre mixed all my own dyes to make sure that the colour was right each time. Soooo, I guess you could say I learnt a very hard lesson, that cost me a lot of money to rectify, but can we all just take a minute to imagine 20 young girls in bright red spray tans, that could only happen to me… and as you can probably guess, we never heard from Malcom again.
We are now 3 years into the tanning business & something needed to give, the lease was up on the 3 shops and it was time for a fresh start, nothing was going my way at all, these shops were eating any money they made, they were falling apart, had smashed windows, rising damp, rats in the basement you name it those shops had it & we needed to move. I’ve been very blessed that I’ve always had lots of customers & really lovely loyal customers at that but the outgoings just outweighed even the busiest of weeks. Up the road there was a lovely little shop I could just about fit hair & beauty in there, give up my little cafe lab and take the tanning business home to my mum & dads, (to their horror as I began to make tan in their kitchen!)
As soon as I made my mind up about moving we moved within days, as you can see once I have something in my head it has to be done. Myself, Carmel & my trusty punto did the move ourself. We made around 100 trips up and down the road and nearly killed ourselves but we did it. The move was the right thing to do, I was totally skint, totally drained & totally out of motivation. I was living at my mums in an unhappy relationship (he also lived at my mums) I had no money, 6 members of staff to look after & 3 businesses to run, oh and thousands of pounds worth of debt that I had to pay off that I’d lost in the 3 shops previous. I got advised to go bankrupt but to admit defeat is not in my DNA so I slowly started to pay back each bill I owed, and never told a sole about the debt that I was carrying, not even Carmel.
Carmel always had faith in me even when I was at rock bottom & to be stood by at rock bottom is a loyalty that cannot be replaced, you can never forget those people, because without them who knows what might of been, but she didn’t need to know the debt situation I understand there is only so much one person can take!
Now even though I knew how bad my personal situation was (like I said I never let on to anyone else) I would turn up to the salon every day (maybe not always with a smile on my face but I turned up) & did the very best job I could do at re building the business. I’m very close to many of my clients & listening to their problems helped me forget mine. I appreciate each & every one of them, and loved making them feel pretty it made me happy! It’s crazy when you have a shop, people always just assume your doing alright so no one really questioned me financially so I could get away with just keeping my head down and working my way out of the debts.
Next, one of my longest friends (another girl who has really stuck by me and given me loyalty throughout the hardest times) invited me to her wedding in Las Vegas. I knew she would be so let down if I didn’t go but I had no where near enough money. The worry I had thinking of ways to let her down drove me crazy, I hate letting people down! I had sleepless nights but it was what it was I wouldn’t let her down I just couldn’t do it. So, I went online and got a credit card from Santander the limit was £2,000 (even though I already owed £4,500 on credit cards) I booked the holiday and that was that. Now I know your probably thinking what has this got to do with the development of nudity tan?!?!? But I am quite a superstitious person and I believe if someone does wrong to you, you should never be bitter or do wrong back. Karma will have its turn and in return I believe if you do something good and you do it from the goodness of your heart and not for recognition of others then something good in return will come to you.
These good things that happen, well you don’t realise that they have happened straight away, they may not be the obvious lottery win you were hoping for but look back and you’ll see that the choices you made have led you to the places you are now, and those things wouldn’t of happened without the good deeds you may have done. Sometimes the good things are there, you just need to look for them.
So the wedding came round and we were in the Wynn hotel in Vegas, the most gorgeous, prestigious hotel I’d ever been to & I was with a guy that was behaving worse than ever (actually I found out he behaved a million times worse in England so I take that back!) But his behaviour was distasteful to say the least, he spent the majority of our spending money in lap dancing bars & embarrassed the hell out of me in front of all the lovely couples that were part of the wedding party! Each day was grating to say the least but I did my best to smile through the humiliation (something I learned to master quite well).
Regardless of his behaviour the wedding was completely beautiful & I am so glad to have been a part of their big day but as you can imagine, it gave me plenty of time to think. One day I was lying round the pool contemplating life (as I did & still do on a daily basis) in a world of my own applying the sun tan cream I had bought from the airport. It was a white spray cream aerosol and it was so easy to apply, I thought to myself, why is there not a clean easy way to tan your self with a spray tan just like this sun cream? And if a cream is so much better for your skin than a water based product then why is there no cream based spray tan solutions? Finally my spark was back, my mind went into over drive and I just couldn’t wait to get back home to my mum and dads kitchen and invent my next spray tan solution…