Welcome to the inaugural B&B! QnA. I keep wanting to write in the editorial ‘we’ voice, because that’s my background, but seriously, this is only ‘me’ here, so: Marissa Carter, of Carter Beauty, kindly A’d the following Qs, talking about her new product, Cocoa Brown self tan, and gives us — you! — some tips about starting your own beauty business.
How you did you get into the beauty game?
Beauty was always my thing. I was ‘the friend’ that held you down with my knee while I plucked your eyebrows; the one sneaking into the bathroom in school to put makeup on, and the go-to-person if you needed advice on beauty products.
After school, I went to DIT Aungier Street to study Management & Marketing. Like most of my friends I took a year out to travel, but I never did go, in the end: I got offered a job in a beauty college. As part of my salary remuneration I could study Beauty Therapy and that was it really! I was like a duck to water and have never looked back.
Can you talk about how you came to make the decision to start your own salon, and where it all began?
Carter Beauty had humble beginnings operating out of a little room in the back of a house that I was renting, and has grown organically into the success it is today. I was very happy in my job in the beauty college, working as the Course Co-Ordinator and also teaching Beauty Therapy, but I am a very driven person, and one day I woke up and decided I wanted to run my own business. There was no convincing me otherwise.
I had very little money and no one to give me any, so it was on a wing and a prayer that I opened Carter Beauty! Luckily, it worked out but it took me a few years to be able to take the same salary that I had been earning in my job. That’s the risk you take when you go out on your own though, I suppose.
What advice would you have for anyone looking to start up their own salon?
First of all, you need to be the best at what you do. If you stand in the middle of road, you get knocked down. I made sure that whatever beauty services I was offering were the best, and I took every class and course I could to further my skills and education. I still do. And I make sure my staff are as passionate about being the best as I am.
Second bit of advice is to ask yourself honestly why you want to be your own boss, because you’ll never work harder than you do as your own boss. Never. The buck stops with you and you’ll never again take a holiday where you can switch off 100%, so you must be prepared to make that commitment.
Lastly: hire people who are better than you in areas of the business where you might be weak. If you always want to be the smartest person in the room you’ll never reach your full potential because you’ll have no one to learn from!
You’ve recently launched your own brand of tan. Can you lay out the nuts and bolts of that process?
Creating a beauty product from scratch has always been a dream of mine. I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in March this year, and while on maternity leave I had bought some new box-sets and books, and thought I would finally have the time to indulge and not do any work.
I don’t know why I thought that my drive would turn off and that I’d change once I had a baby. Yes, my priorities have shifted and being a mummy is my most important job but I’m still me! I soon found myself working with a product formulator, graphic designer and distributor all at once to bring Cocoa Brown by Marissa Carter – 1 HOUR TAN to life.
There are so many different aspects involved in building a brand, but at the end of the day it comes back to business basics: work with people you trust and like and fill in any gaps in your skill set with talented people. I was introduced to Gordon and Fran in Sundrelle, a pharmacy distributor and we hit it off instantly. They are the exclusive distributor for Cocoa Brown and have rolled out the product into 150 pharmacies across the country.
What makes Cocoa Brown different from other tans?
When you apply fake tan, you usually have to leave it on overnight, or wait for about eight hours for it to sink into the skin and develop; Cocoa Brown contains accelerating ingredients which carry the tan into the skin and speed up the development time. You can actually wash the product off after as little as one hour, and the tan will continue to develop into a rich cocoa brown colour. If you want a deeper, darker tan you can leave the product on the skin for up to three hours.
The tan has a fresh scent which is ‘Tahitian Gardenia’, a light floral that’s not too sweet. The ‘biscuit smell’ you sometimes get in fake tans occurs when DHA (the active tanning agent in tan) comes into contact with air on the surface layers of the skin. The accelerating ingredients in Cocoa Brown carries the product into the skin so no DHA is left to linger on the surface getting smelly!
And! The tan comes in a 150ml mousse can and retails at an incredible €8.00. Carter Beauty is renowned for giving customers excellent value for money so it makes sense that my new brand Cocoa Brown, does too.
At the moment if you want to get a professional Spray Tan with Cocoa Brown you can get it for €20 in Carter Beauty. In the near future, select salons nationwide will also offer the service.
I am interested in issues around self esteem and beauty processes. I suppose there is an argument that women seek this stuff out because they feel bad about their appearance — I myself had to learn that my bare face is beautiful too! In your opinion, what’s the good argument for tending to one’s appearance?
Last year, for Lent, I gave up wearing makeup for the 40 days. It was an eye-opening experience for me and forced me to become comfortable bare-faced. I had acne as a teenager, and I think that I used makeup as a mask — and the association of feeling more confident with makeup stayed with me long after my skin cleared up.
I like to take care of my skin so that I feel radiant without makeup but I also enjoy getting dolled up. I enjoy the ritual of applying makeup and tan, of painting my nails and doing anything that beautifies me. I think even if I woke up looking like Jessica Alba and didn’t need a stitch of makeup, I would still apply it now and then, because beauty is an experience to me, so much more than the end result.
Cocoa Brown by Marissa Carter – 1 HOUR TAN 150ml Mousse (€8.00) is available in pharmacies nationwide.
Follow the brand on Twitter @CocoaBrownTan and Facebook facebook.com/cocoabrowntan