I have had so many people ask how and why I started The Tan Can.
You could say, as with most businesses, it was born out of necessity.
Growing up with pale skin and a mother who watched me like a hawk when I was out in the sun, I always longed for a deep, dark tan…it was the symbol of having been somewhere. Certainly not where I’d been: Corpus Christie. In a VW, with an imaginary line drawn down the back seat where my brother would slowly stick his finger on my side, and I on his. That was our family vacation; hard won by my father’s strong work ethic and my mother’s ability to save money. THIS, though was not how and where I wanted to get a tan; I wanted one on the French Riviera! Eventually, courtesy of a boyfriend, I did get one there and ended up being burned to a crisp. Even my boobies, natch.
Fast forward through TONS of sunburns that happened off my mother’s watch, and then, just as I learned she was right: one should always wear cotton underwear, not nylon, I quit and became conscious of my skin and got my first brain thought of the cause and consequence of sun exposure; it can lead to cancer and wrinkled skin. When I’m old, you know, like 30.
When I was a young mom, a spray tan booth place opened close to me and I gave it a try. Even though I was always running after my kiddo, sweating in the Texas heat, I seemed to aways wear pants because I disliked my white legs that now unfortunately, had broken capillaries. I wanted a tan to sort of make for a smoke and mirrors effect and cover all that up so I could wear shorts and not sweat my head off. This spray tan booth place seemed to be the answer. The result though was a wet, runny tan that dripped into my flip flops on the way home. Running the air conditioner full blast, towel on the seat, etc, etc, etc, etc, did nothing to alleviate the uncomfortableness of it nor the resulting dreaded streaks that showed up after I became tan. STIILL, it was better than being pale I thought and so I kept going back. Thank goodness, my addiction was broken by the fact that the place closed down. I started asking and calling around to find a spray tan place that could give a natural looking tan and when I came up empty handed, I started checking out what it would entail to do it myself. The answer was to get a spray tan machine and just have at it. There ensued years of hilarity (a whole other blog) of spray tanning in my garage. In came throngs of friends to tan each other. We came up with stances (the Captain Morgan to get into recesses of the nether regions) and The Claw (Stephen King would be proud)…should we lift the breasts with a spatula to tan the underneath area? How do we get under the booty so you don’t have “smile lines?” We fell down with tears of laughter running down our cheeks, inside of tents in the dark in backyards all over central Austin….gals stood in their yards naked, much to the dismay of yard men: just kidding!....not really.
All of this…TO GET A TAN!
The name, “The Tan Can” came about from a Prosecco fueled night of intense conversation about where to go with this. I thought tanning out of an airstream would be cool and from there said I could call it The Tan Can because an airstream looks like a can.
As daylight crept in the next morning, and with the urging of a girlfriend, I realized I still liked the idea so I went to the city to get a permit to tan out of an airstream. At this time there were no services offered in mobile vehicles and they did not know what to do with me. This was 12 years ago before all the food trailer parks so I was quite the anomaly. My unfortunate rep, a guy who had no idea what a spray tan was and did not get the horrors of a Texas girl with a pale body, said if I sold baked goods he could put me down as a food vendor and that could work. Tans and treats. Get a tan, grab a cookie on your way out. I thought about it for a split second and then decided that I was good at tans, not so much at treats. My main market was sorority girls and I did some tanning at sorority houses and had several girls as helpers here and there. When I saw how they ran over my lawn in their Range Rovers, the vision of them crashing through the gates of the Tri Delt house as they backed my large Tans and Treats vehicle up, gave me pause. Hmmm, do I have enough insurance for this?
Sadly, the dream went the way of Britany Spears and Kevin Federline.
I set up a home studio and that is where I did my business for years.
Spray tanning was a super business like I never even imagined. I did it out of my house and the girls in and out were like a fun flow of happiness in a French Salon. ½ naked gals stood in the my kitchen sharing stories and information while they were drying, girls connected in the studio and shared numbers to get together, friends who had not seen each other in years, reconnected…there were tons of tears, tons of laughter and above all, a connected community of women. It truly became my passion: the tanning part of it and the connection part of it.
My maintenance products came about from the lack of gentle sunless maintenance products on the market at that time. People would ask how to care for their sunless tan and I looked around for the best products for them to buy. The products I found all fell somewhat short so my “figure-it-out” background kicked in and I ordered ingredients I never heard of before and started mixing in my kitchen to see if I could make my own products. To sell retail, you must do it correctly and be FDA approved through a lab and after years and expense, I found two I liked and I was off and running.
I love the whole part of thinking about formulas, the solution to a problem that each ingredient can give, the testing and testing and then finally getting it right.
My testers: the multitude of girls that paraded in and out my house, the friends who luckily would say, “You got it!” or “It sucks; try again.” The latter is just as important as the former; without it, you cannot excel at what you’re trying to do. The friends who give their honest advice are the ones who give legs to this little biz I have.
I have loved meeting every person who has come through my doors; if a newcomer, they’re a friend when they leave…the laughter and tears and shared hearts have all made this a damn fun ride!