It always helps to have an established customer base when you start a new business.
Sarah Anderson had just that when she opened Addictions Spray Tanning and Fashion last month on South Washington Street in Sonora.
Anderson, 27, of Sonora, got her first sunless tan about two years ago and soon after learned how to do it. She bronzed her mom’s skin from time to time, and then a few friends. Before she knew it, Anderson was flooded with people wanting sunless tans.
“It was getting overwhelming tanning girls out of my kitchen,” she said.
Located in the space where the iconic Princess Shoppe once operated, Addictions sells $20 tanning sessions, as well as multi-session packages for appointments and walk-ins. For an extra $10, Anderson will come to you.
Along with the tan treatment, Addictions also sells women’s clothing and jewelry.
Anderson wasn’t exactly planning to go into the business world all her life. She grew up and went to high school outside of Fresno and moved to Sonora at 18. She studied psychology and child development at Chapman University, and was heading that direction for a career. Then the economy changed, and Anderson said the job market became a tougher place.
She says she felt the demand was there.
“And I love doing it. I have fun educating people about it,” Anderson said.
The spray tanning process involves applying a liquid that causes a reaction with the skin to make it darker. Anderson’s mixture uses dihydroxyacetone, a popular sunless tanning product derived from sugar cane and sugar beets. She says none of her products use animal byproducts or contain parabens, preservatives that have been linked with health defects. And unlike the dyes, there is no orange sheen to worry about.
“ ‘The Jersey Shore’ has been bad for (spray tanning),” Anderson said. “Theirs look horrible.”
A single session takes up to 20 minutes and can last more than a week, depending on the person. Anderson said a lot of her customers are getting ready for a big event like a wedding or a dance when they come to the store.
Anderson started sunless tanning to cut town on ultraviolet light exposure. Skin cancer runs in her family, and she said she re-thought conventional tanning after having to remove some worrisome spots from her skin.
“I thought, ‘Am I going to look good for a moment and risk all these things or find an alternative route?’ ” she said.
Anderson said it’s been nice to have a customer base, but she’s been pleased with steady business her first month. Most of her advertisement has been word-of-mouth, she said. And she might even see a bit of a boost from Sacramento. The state Legislature recently passed a law banning anyone younger than 18 from patronizing a conventional tanning salon. Gov. Jerry Brown had not signed the law as of Thursday.
Anderson said she’s keeping her eye on that bill. But she also said her current customers help spread the word as well as anything.
“It’s kind of like they’re walking billboards,” Anderson said.
“People ask, ‘How did you get so tan, so fast?’ ”