What better time than summer to head out to the mountains of Utah for this month’s Salon of Distinction profile? Plenty of great food, hiking, mountain biking, sunrises, sunsets, and a breath of fresh air at the tops of those mountains. Although it was quite some time ago, I have spent some time in Utah, and the vistas alone are worth the trip.
When I contacted European Tan in Salt Lake City to inform them that their salon would be featured this month, Manager, Jodi Nelson, was bursting with enthusiasm. We had a great chat and I shared some of my escapades on the Utah slopes. “Joe, come on out and we’ll show you how to really ski!” she offered. Jodi put me in touch with owner, George Papadopoulos, who was kind enough to find time for this interview.
George: One of my good friends had a girlfriend who worked at a tanning salon. I was working for my dad at the time, and I had just recently become a father, myself. I was looking for something different to do when my friend asked me, “Hey, what about tanning salons?” I did a copious amount of research and spent a lot of time talking to other tanning professionals online in forums and chat rooms. I opened the first European Tan in May, 2001. Wrong time of the year to open! Hindsight and experience tell me that a fall opening would have been more successful, but you live and learn! Joe, we built European Tan from the ground up. Our first location now actually serves as our corporate offices.
IST: What was your biggest hurdle to overcome?
George: Having the right team in place has been a challenge. The dynamic now is fantastic, because our managers and the team are working together to make things happen. As a result, I don’t feel like I always have to be involved in the day-to-day, and I can delegate. This really gives me a lot more flexibility to focus on the bigger picture. I’m always on the lookout for people with passion, a thirst for success, and the drive to achieve their goals.
IST: Your staff has completed our Sun is Life® Training program. How important is a knowledgeable staff?
George: This is absolutely paramount. Educating customers in any industry is extremely important. Taking the time to show your salon guests why they would benefit from certain products and services not only helps build relationships, it sets us apart as the tanning experts. Our promise to our guests is to constantly educate and inform them on all things tanning and skin science.
IST: Our industry has existed since the late 70s and survived economic ups and downs, regulatory restrictions and negative media. As we move toward 2020, what challenges do you think we face?
George: Joe, I believe our industry will continue to grow, as many more studies are showing the positive effects of UV light. I think we will have a wide range of age groups using UV light for varying reasons – whether for cosmetic color, relaxation, multiple skin conditions, improving mood and all the other positive benefits.
IST: All great points, George. I personally believe that since the beginning of time, our bodies have craved the glow of UV light and folks sure do use it for a variety of reasons. The Sun is Life Training and Certification program covers the guidelines on what is permissible for salon operators to promote for the purpose of marketing their services.
To cap off our interview, I have one last question: where do you see yourself and European Tan in five years?
George: I see us evolving with the industry and continuing to strive for success by remaining on the cutting edge of new developments in equipment and skin care. We are dedicated to providing our salon guests with state-of-the-art facilities and the best tanning systems available.
Well done, George. Congrats to you and the entire staff of European Tan. All the best for continued success!
A 26-year industry veteran, Joe has taught certified salon operator training for the last 15 years, as well as advocating indoor tanning in many capacities. Joe is a sought-after speaker and presenter at both national & regional trade events, also interacting with the FDA, state & local regulatory agencies. During his most recent tenure with the ITA, he served as director of membership.
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