The indoor tanning industry is an enjoyable one and there are so many positive things here for everyone to enjoy. For example, more and more people are following their dreams of becoming their own bosses by opening and operating tanning salons. Since these “newbies” continue to strengthen our industry, ist Magazine wishes to recognize them with this monthly “Welcome Wagon” series. We invite you, our loyal readers, to join us in giving them the friendly greeting they deserve!
With an owner eager to please her happy salon guests, expect a bright future for Sun Country Tanning Salon in Waynesville, NC.
The only good thing that came out of Shondra “Olivia” Grant’s bout with scarlet fever was a love for indoor tanning. “My uncle is a dermatologist,” she said, “and he recommended I try indoor tanning to relieve my symptoms. I started tanning at a local salon but I wasn’t seeing any improvement, so I switched to another and started feeling better.” Discovering that the salon she had come to enjoy was on the verge of closing its doors, she joked with her boyfriend, Walt “Dex” Mitchell, about buying the business and he told her to go for it. “The owner gave us a day to decide,” said Dex, “so I spent the time researching the industry. Even though I wasn’t a tanner at the time, I knew that I wanted us to be in business for ourselves, so I decided to take my dad’s advice and just follow my heart.”
While Olivia had always enjoyed tanning at the salon she and Dex purchased, neither of them could ignore its state of disrepair. “We took a month to remodel the place,” Dex said, “but it was worth the effect. We filled in and sanded the paneled walls and painted them, and we also re-lamped and repaired all the tanning units and stocked the lotion counter.” Olivia put her expertise from her advertising and marketing sales job to good use by sending all the former tanners a hand-written postcard inviting them back for a free tan. “This started bringing people through the door,” she added, “and the word-of-mouth just started picking up from there!” To further promote the business, Olivia joined the Chamber of Commerce, and included a free tan and 30 percent lotion discount on her business cards, which she handed out to people around the town.
While Olivia says that tanning sessions helped relieve the symptoms of scarlet fever, she was interested to discover that making health claims about indoor tanning is severely frowned upon by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “I’m an avid reader and I like to learn as much as I can about everything,” she said. “This is why I’m very interested in learning more about Sun Is Life® Training and Certification.” As she and Dex settle into the balance of operating their salon while maintaining day jobs, the couple plans to complete the Sun Is Life Certification program. “I know that many physicians and dermatologists send their clients to us for various reasons,” Dex added, “but I’m happy knowing that we’re really here to help people develop the color they desire so they can look better. I look forward to learning more about this industry through training and education.”
Currently, Olivia and Dex operate Sun Country Tanning Salon with the help of Olivia’s daughter, Alexia Lauren. As the three develop a more cohesive routine around the salon and their full-time jobs – Dex is a morning show radio personality – their clients can expect big changes at the small salon. “We’ve been getting a lot of calls for custom spray-tans so I would like to offer that,” she said. “We’d also like to add a stand-up unit for the same reason.” Their immediate goal is to install salon software to increase efficiency, and they might expand the facility into the empty space next door to their salon. “Owning a second salon would be great,” Dex added, “but that’s a long-term goal that depends on how we do during the next two peak seasons. In the meantime, we’re both excited to pursue our short-term goals for the salon and enjoy the success that those bring us.”
Thanks for helping us welcome Olivia Grant & Dex Mitchell to the indoor tanning community. We look forward to meeting many more new faces and salon places in the months to come. Until then… stay sunny!
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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