A tanning salon that started as a dream has become like paradise for its clients – that’s Almost Paradise Tanning in Torrington, CT.
When Annette Jacquemin and Christopher Torizzo found themselves with no place to tan indoors, the two cousins decided it was time to open a salon of their own. The idea sounded a bit unrealistic at first, considering the fact that neither had ever owned a business before; but, with the help of friends, family and a supportive product distribution company, the two were able to open Almost Paradise Tanning on November 3, 2006. And, as it turned out, Annette and Christopher weren’t the only people in town who wanted a clean, friendly and professional tanning salon experience! Today, Almost Paradise is a bustling business and Annette and Christopher are thankful to their hardworking, dedicated staff who’ve helped build a loyal clientele.
One Part Dream…
For Annette and Christopher, it all started when the salon where they once tanned closed its doors. “I was working as a CNA at a nursing home and my cousin was an insurance salesman, and we both loved tanning at that salon,” said Annette. “After it closed, we tried a few of the hair salons in town that also had tanning units, but we weren’t pleased with what they had to offer – it just wasn’t the same. That’s when I suggested we open our own.” Since neither she nor Christopher had ever owned a business, Annette knew her idea was a bit crazy. “We weren’t even sure if we could obtain the financing we’d need to make our dream a reality,” she said. “We’re very fortunate that everyone at Future Industries was so helpful in getting us started – we couldn’t have done it without them!”
…One Part Drive
Rather than purchase an existing salon, Annette and Christopher built their business from the ground up, calling on friends and family for plenty of help. “We found a 2,000 square-foot space in a shopping plaza that was completely empty, so we knew we had our work cut out for us,” she said. “It took us about four months to get everything inside built and all the equipment installed, before we opened on November 3, 2006. The community was very excited about all of this because, in our small town, there was only one other tanning salon. On the day we opened, we were bombarded by people!” Annette added that it didn’t take long for Almost Paradise Tanning to build a database of more than 5,000 tanners and today, the salon serves an average of 160 clients per day during peak months.
Although its name might suggest an exotic getaway, there’s nothing “tropical” about Almost Paradise. Instead, the salon’s décor features walls painted in bright, blue and green pastels, a fountain in the lobby and hardwood floors. It has six UV tanning units – three Dr. Müller Sun Sector 35/2, two Dr. Müller Elixir and a SunCapsule 200 tanning booth – and a VersaSpa sunless tanning unit. The business sells lotions by Australian Gold, Designer Skin, Hempz, Rio Tanning Products and Supre Tan, and operates with SalonTouch software by Interactive Designs. While Almost Paradise’s spa services include at-home body wrap sales and Bleach Bright teeth-whitening, she considers her staff to be the salon’s greatest asset. “Diane Gioia, Traci Sochon and Shiley Teddick are the most loyal, hardworking people I’ve ever known, and it’s an honor to have them on our team,” she added.
Give ‘em Something
Annette and Christopher utilize Facebook and the salon’s website to market Almost Paradise. “In today’s economy, everyone is looking for savings, so we do our best to provide them,” she said. “We post coupons – $10 off a monthly unlimited package, $5 off a spray-tan session and buy three sessions, get one free – on our website and Facebook page. Because it keeps our clients thinking about tanning with us, it also gives them something to print and bring into the salon to redeem. The more we can help them save, the more willing they are to come back.” The business partners and cousins haven’t given up on newspaper ads – they recently promoted the salon’s sixth-anniversary weekend special, which offers $5 tans all weekend.
On the Move!
While some might balk at the idea of going into business with a family member, the arrangement works for Annette and Christopher. The two say their personalities are alike in many ways, and their strengths as business owners complement each other – he’s good with behind-the-scenes business matters while she flourishes behind the counter, handling all the in-store duties. “Since we still maintain full-time jobs, we believe that adding another location would be too much,” she said. “Instead, we plan to add airbrush tanning and body wrap services to the salon’s menu because there’s nothing like that here in town, and many of our clients have expressed interest in these types of services. It would definitely increase our traffic and open us up to offering these services on a mobile basis, which would also help promote the salon.”
Annette sees more positives to owning a tanning salon than just being able to get a great tan. “I absolutely love our clients!” she exclaimed. “From the day we opened our doors, I’ve taken the time to get to know as many of them as I can and I’ve made a lot of great friends. What’s even more satisfying is seeing people come through our doors with a smile, and leave even happier.”
A 14-year industry veteran, John "Ribby" Ribner has written hundreds of
articles for IST Magazine and, as Director of Editorial Content, has also
helped guide the publication's evolution. Ribby is a graduate of Central
Michigan University's journalism program and has brought many years of newspaper reporting experience to his position of Head Writer. He is also the author of three novels, "Legacy of the Bear," "Prophecy of the Bear" and "World So Dark."
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