Donna Harper is new owner of Tan It By Girlfriends salon
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Spring is nearly here, and that means warm weather and more outdoor recreation.
With warm weather also brings shorts, and some may want those legs to be tan before enjoying the great outdoors.
Former Liberal business owner Jamie Snell recently sold Tan It By Girlfriends to friend Donna Harper in December, and Harper said when Snell initially offered her the business, she was unsure whether she wanted to buy it.
“She said, ‘Come to Nashville with me for the tanning convention and decide,’” Harper said. “So I did. I liked it, and here we are.”
While Harper had not worked in the tanning business prior to her current venture, she had worked part-time for Snell at Flowers by Girlfriends.
Some of the services Tan It provides include lay down tanning beds and one stand up tanning bed.
“We have the custom spray tan,” Harper said. “We have 10 tanning beds all together. We have level one, level two, level three and level five tanning beds.”
Since coming on board in December, Harper said she has bought three new tanning beds, and the custom spray tanning is also new.
“We’ve had it about a month,” she said.
Tan It recently hosted a grand re-opening, and Harper said she had a great turnout.
“We have prom coming up, a lot of new people coming in,” she said. “We have a big line of new tanning lotion products.”
While warmer weather is traditionally associated with tanning, Harper said people use the services of her salon regularly throughout the year.
“Spring time, when it warms up, I’ve noticed more people coming up wanting to be tanned before spring,” she said. “They’re excited about wearing shorts and going on vacation for spring break.”
Harper said she is looking to bringing new ideas to Tan It, but she is unsure of what those are.
“I’d like to open up another branch,” she said. “I’m not sure where.”
Harper said tanning technology has changed greatly in the last 20 years.
“I have a tanning bed at home, and I bought it probably 15 years ago,” she said. “I didn’t know anything hi-tech like this was out there with the commercial tanning beds. There’s a big difference between home tanning beds and commercial tanning beds.”
When in Nashville for the tanning convention, Harper said she learned a lot as far as the equipment and the education side of the business.
“All the girls who work here for me are Smart Tan certified,” she said. “We’re state regulated, so we all have to take a test. We all have to be certified to work it. There’s a lot to it. There’s a lot more to it than what I thought.”
Safety is a high priority at Tan It, and Harper said among other things, goggles are a must when tanning.
“If you feel like you’re getting warm, get out of the bed,” she said. “It’s always regulated by the computer. It’s timed. It’s safe. It’s not like you’re going to be out in the sun for two or three hours and get fried. It’s climate controlled.”
Harper said tans make people feel good.
“Everybody loves to feel good,” she said. “It’s relaxing. I have people who come in here and say, ‘This is my vacation away from my job, my kids, my work, all my stress. It’s my time to myself.’ I enjoy it. I think my employees enjoy it. Everyone who leaves here leaves with a smile.”
Harper said while lotion is not a must for tanning, Tan It does offer a variety of lotions that make the process easier.
She said in order to work at a tanning salon, a person has to be Smart Tan certified. Harper has a license from the Kansas Board of Cosmetology, and her business is inspected by the state regularly.
“They come once a month and inspect us,” she said. “We test our bulbs every month. We test the beds every month to make sure everything’s running right. We do bulb readings every month. Everything’s taken apart once a month, cleaned and checked.”
Harper said she appreciates everyone who comes in, and she and her employees have enjoyed working at Tan It.
“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and invite them to come in and check it out,” she said. I’ve given it a new look. I’ve painted, put new furniture. It looks a little different than it used to. I’m enjoying it. I think the girls who work here are enjoying it.”
Harper said she has gotten a lot of compliments from people who come in to the business.
“People come in here with a sad look on their face, and I think after they tan, it refreshes them and gives them a perk when they go back to work,” she said.