With rooms decorated to reflect the beauty of London, Paris and Italy, The Tannery in Fresno, CA is not your average tanning salon!
Jennifer Pair was practically born to be a tanning salon owner, and she realized this destiny on April 1, 2010 – that was the day she purchased The Tannery from her former boss. It took a lot of work to transform the aging business into the European-styled showcase salon that it is today, and two years later, she’s proud to say that her four-unit salon is still going strong. She owes her success as much to her dedicated staff as she does to her dedication to utilizing effective marketing and promotions. As for the future, Jennifer has even bigger plans… plans that involve her sister, mobile airbrush tanning and eventually, another store.
A New Beginning
The circumstances that led to Jennifer Pair becoming a salon owner are as touching as they are interesting. “After I graduated from high school, I took a job at a local tanning salon and did everything from bed cleaning to management,” said Jennifer. “During that time, my husband, Paul, passed away after battling cancer for three years.” Being widowed at the age of 24 was something she never expected, and Jennifer knew she needed to do something positive to help move past the pain of her loss. Around this time, The Tannery’s former owners were looking to sell the salon to pursue other business interests, which gave Jennifer the perfect idea of how to bring some happiness into her life while doing the same for others.
With just two of the salon’s four units operational and the interior in need of a facelift, Jennifer had her work cut out for her. “I wanted to do something unique and elegant so I asked my parents, Ken and Diane Testa, to help with the remodeling,” she said. “They saw my desire to take over the salon so they devoted countless days to the remodeling, decorating and maintenance, and their continued support and involvement has definitely added to the success of The Tannery.” With a an earth tone palette and plenty of ornamentation, the décor displays an elegant and sophisticated European theme that features a fountain and granite counter in the lobby, tiled floors and tanning rooms with themes such as London, Paris and Italy. “We’re definitely not your average tanning salon!” she added.
The Tannery has just four tanning units – two Ultrabronze Super Nova, a TanAmerica Pacifica and an I.So Italia Matrix – and an airbrush tanning system by Norvell Skin Solutions. Lotions by Designer Skin and Devoted Creations line the shelves, and the business operates with SalonTouch software by Interactive Designs. Of all the salon’s assets, Jennifer is most proud of her staff. “Vanessa Noble has been here more than four years, and I can honestly say that we wouldn’t have been as successful without her,” she said. “Danielle Burnett is new here, and she’s taken it upon herself to learn everything she can about this business so that she can do the best job possible. I’m very impressed with them and everyone else on the team.”
With Fresno State University three streets away, Jennifer gears much of her marketing to attracting student tanners. “One of the most successful ads we’ve ever placed is in the Fresno State student planner with a coupon for a free tan that reads ‘Let us impress you,’” she said. “Giving students a free session hardly costs us anything, yet it encourages people to give us a try. Our conversion rate on this offer is always high because our units give everyone such great results.” Jennifer says she strategically plans this offer around the university’s dances and other special events, and it’s good for new clients and anyone who hasn’t been to The Tannery in at least two years. She also donates to all of Fresno State’s silent auction fundraisers and participates in many of the college’s special events.
As a business owner, Jennifer can’t say enough about MadMimi.com. “This is a mass e-mail program that’s a tremendous value to us,” she said. “For $16 a month, we can design and send our contacts an unlimited amount of e-blasts. To avoid bombarding them, we use this service about twice a month to announce our monthly specials.” The latest was the “Bronze Friday” promotion held the day after Thanksgiving offering $5-$10 sessions in specific units and $20 off all spray-tan sessions. “We opened at 7am, and the sale was very popular with people who were shopping all day,” Jennifer added.
Sister Act… & More!
As tanning salons go, The Tannery could be considered small; but, as dreams go, it’s as big as it gets. And when it comes to the future of her business, Jennifer plans to continue dreaming big. “My sister, Ashley Burk, has recently expressed some interest in joining The Tannery team as a mobile sunless spray technician, and I’m very excited about it,” she said. “I’m sure that offering this service at people’s homes and all the special events around here would be another great way to get the word out to even more people. We’d also like to open a second Tannery location for Ashley to operate while I run the other, but that’s more of a long-term goal.”
The tanning industry was something Jennifer Pair knew, and now, it’s also what she loves. “Interacting with our clients is the best,” she said. “Besides becoming friends with many of them, I’m also able to find out each of their unique tanning goals, which I can then help them to achieve. It’s because of our clients that I’m excited about coming here and doing what I do six days each week.”
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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