At the start of Rose & Caramel I spent months mixing up formulas in my kitchen. From solutions that never dried, ones that smelt horrendous to tans that didn’t even tan! Luckily with Carmel as my model I was able to test them all out on her, not myself!
I never set out to just put our name on a bottle, I wanted to create, invent & inspire. I wanted to change the tanning world and overcome the many issues we have when tanning.
Now my problem throughout life is wanting to run before I can walk, my dad made me believe I could achieve anything I set my mind to, although some would see this as great advice for me this led to many failures. However after every set back (believe me when I say there has been ALOT) I bounced straight back up with new ideas and started again.
After a few months of tan trials of numerous solutions that took place on friends, family & my lovely salon customers I now had a spray tan solution called Tan Therapy. It was of a decent standard, water based, and sold in litres to salons. I also had an eBay shop, selling around 3 litres a week (on a good week).
Instead of focusing on the products I had I was trying to have Tan Therapy manufactured into aerosol cans (the obvious next step when you have 6 eBay clients & no money).
A huge seller in the salon was the ‘tan in a can’ and I wanted to be selling my own brand. I trawled the Internet & found a company called Starline. I was so excited to call them. The lady who answered the phone was called Joy, I explained to her about my spray tan solution 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 new, and unfortunately the big tanning companies have exhausted every avenue there.’ Swiftly after that she ended the phone call.
I was left deflated from the conversation, not only was the answer a firm no she had mentioned the minimum order was 1000 cans & I definitely could not afford that.
I was currently running 3 run down shops, a hair salon, a tanning salon and a cafe, resulting in me making little more than minimum wage. I was breaking my back working 70-hour weeks & driving myself insane trying to create the best tanning range available.
Like I said my work ethic is great, but I have never had patience, if I did, I would have worked a lot smarter and got a lot further faster.
So, feeling like a failure I tried to focus on the shops and continued to sell Tan Therapy locally & on eBay.
I was now 3 years into creating self-tan, something needed to give, the lease was up on the businesses and i needed a fresh start. The shops had run into the ground, they had smashed windows (from being robbed numerous times) rats in the basement, rising damp on the walls & an electric bill that constantly swallowed any profit they dared to make.
There was a lovely little shop up the road I could just about squeeze hair & beauty into it, my choice was to move there or give up, I wasn’t far from rock bottom.
As I’m incapable of giving up we moved within days. Myself & Carmel did the move ourselves. We made around 100 trips up and down the road in my little battered car, lugging all the furniture & equipment, we nearly broke our backs, but we did it.
The shop was a new start, but I was totally skint, totally drained & totally out of motivation. Living at my mums in an unhappy relationship, with no money, 6 members of staff to look after & 3 businesses to run, oh and thousands of pounds of debt that I’d gained from the 3 shops previous. I made a choice to go against all advice I’d been given to go bankrupt, refusing to admit defeat, it’s just not in my DNA.
Moving to a smaller shop was the best decision we made. Slowly I began to pay back each bill I owed, I never told a sole about the huge debt I was carrying, not even Carmel.
Carmel always had faith in me even at rock bottom. She also went against the advice of many at the time & chose to stick by me, a girl who had nothing but minimum wage to offer.
To be stood by at rock bottom is a loyalty that can’t ever be replaced. I swear you can never forget those people, because without them who knows how different your journey would be.
Just as I was beginning to get back on my feet one of my longest friends (another girl who has really stuck by me and shown loyalty at the hardest times) invited me to her wedding in Las Vegas.
I knew she’d feel so let down if I didn’t make her big day, but I was broke. The worry I had thinking of ways to let her down drove me crazy, I 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 for me & my boyfriend and that was that.
If you’re wondering what Vegas has to do with Nudity aerosol… it’s because I believe everything happens for a reason, every decision you make no matter how small it is leads you to where you are today.
The wedding was at the Wynn hotel in Vegas, the most impressive hotel I’d ever been to with a boyfriend I couldn’t stand. His behaviour was horrendous, he spent all of our spending money on drink, drugs & lap dancers leaving me alone & humiliated in-front of the lovely wedding guests. Luckily facing life with a smile is something I mastered at a young age, you got to go through it anyway may as well do it with a smile.
Regardless of my situation the wedding was beautiful & I am forever grateful to be a part of their big day.
Towards the end of the holiday I was lying around the pool in the extreme heat contemplating life & wondering what would happen next, effortlessly spraying my lotion-based sun cream onto my body, when it struck me, why was self-tanning so messy.
Why couldn’t a lotion-based aerosol be the base of a self-tan. My mind went into overdrive, something sparked in my brain, and I couldn’t wait to get home.
I’d not been back from Vegas 6 hours before I’d started my new creation. The original trial solution was very basic. I watered down a body lotion, added a few extra essential ingredients and then went straight to Carmel the human guinea pig for testing.
Now Carmel is a beauty therapist through & through, she takes complete care of her skin, I’d go as far to say a skin enthusiast! She moisturises religiously and because of this her skin is soft and has lots of oils in it, this skin type can be difficult to self-tan. This is due to the natural barrier that has formed over time with heavy moisturising (she often says tan slides off her skin) This meant Carmel never went a flawless dark colour from water-based solutions.
The next morning, she texts to say it was amazing she’d gone darker than she did usually the colour was perfect & she would definitely choose this over a normal tanning solution.
This was fabulous feedback as Carmel is unbelievably honest (even though I try and push her into thinking my way) she is so stubborn, so I knew for her to think it was good it was definitely better than good.
I made a big batch of it and started to spray my salon clients in my clear cream creation, I did as many as possible as I needed feedback, and they loved it!! Not all I admit but the majority & it began to outsell my water-based solution that was now being sold under the name Intensity.
I tried to call Joy at Star Line, but years had passed, the company no longer existed. I began to guess email addresses and even rang factories trying to find her, people thought I was mad, but I needed to tell Joy I’d invented a world first.
Later that year I was introduced to 2 businessmen that wanted to invest in the tan.
Remember if something sounds too good to be true, it is.
We worked together over a year and they provided me with office space at Spinningfields in Manchester, design & web staff & some great support, but unfortunately we couldn’t make it work.
The more I was given help, the more I realised that it was my brain, my ideas & my determination that would lead to my goals.
Due to the tan not selling huge amounts (or somedays any amounts) the partners were reluctant to invest actual cash into the business which I totally understood, but it led to the dissolution of the partnership.
Again I was back to square one, well almost square one, one minor detail I’ve left out is that as the investors were looking at the bigger picture (mass production) they had contacted various factories only to be told they needed the solution reformulating by a chemist, and passed on the details of the chemist they use to formulate, it was only Joy.
I finally met the woman who has now become a hugely instrumental part of the business & my life. She agreed to formulate Nudity as a world first, and we went from there.
I scraped together the money with help of my family to put my first aerosol order in, it was a big commitment but I promised that even if the tan didn’t sell I would pay back every penny, it was literally my last chance to make it work.
8 weeks later the factory delivered pallets of aerosol cans to my tiny shop door. The Pallets covered the street, overwhelmed I remember looking at the thousands of little cans not knowing what the hell to do next but at the same time knowing everything was finally falling into place.
Nudity was born and something special was going to happen.