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Meet Courtney Claghorn of SUGARED + BRONZED

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Claghorn.

Courtney, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Before opening the OG Santa Monica salon, I attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, where I met my boyfriend and co-founder, Sam Offit. Shortly after graduation, we landed in Santa Monica and I constantly found myself overpaying for spray tans at underwhelming locations. Frustrated by my desk job and bad spray tans, Sam encouraged me to find a better solution. I founded S+B out of our Santa Monica apartment in late 2010. Word spread quickly and the growing client base encouraged me to leave my short-lived corporate life to focus on the business full time.

As a skincare fanatic, it didn’t take me long to realize that sugaring was not only the new waxing but also the perfect compliment to a spray tan. My vision was to bring the two popular services side by side, creating a uniquely synergistic space and a one-stop shop to prepare for any vacation, wedding, red-carpet event, or to simply feel flawless®. To date, S+B has 10 locations in LA, OC, NYC & Philly. Dallas will most likely be our next market, but we have many more on the horizon!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Most definitely not! First of all, when I started the business at age 23, I had a business degree, but little real-world experience and zero experience in real estate, construction, architecture, web design, etc.- essentially all of the things that I would not only need to know but that would be very important to running a successful retail business. I had no choice but to learn those things through trial and error, but I am thankful for all of those experiences, both good and bad.

We hadn’t (and haven’t) raised funding, so I couldn’t just hire people to do everything that I didn’t know how to do, especially in the early years. It was tough, but I am glad that I was forced to learn about a lot of different trades because now it truly makes me appreciate when we were fortunate enough to work with someone who’s really great.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the SUGARED + BRONZED story. Tell us more about the business.
SUGARED + BRONZED was founded on the concept that hair removal and spray tanning shouldn’t be services found at the bottom of a long spa menu, done in the back of a salon, performed by a “specialist” who is expected to specialize in a laundry list of beauty treatments. We pride ourselves on the fact that we only focus on sugaring and airbrush tanning, all day every day! Our estheticians and technicians are all trained in-house to ensure you leave with smooth skin and a flawless tan, no matter the location, sugarista, or sprayer you visit.

And just in case you are unfamiliar with sugaring and/or tanning… sugaring is a form of hair removal that dates back to ancient Egypt. The hair is extracted with a sugar paste (hence the name) that consists of just sugar, lemon, and water. Unlike waxing, the esthetician applies the sugar against the natural direction of the hair growth and then uses a gentle flicking motion to remove the paste, and the hair. It is often found to be more gentle, less irritating, and longer lasting than waxing. Airbrush tanning is a spray tan done by a technician (as opposed to a machine).

The active ingredient in the solution is DHA (dihydroxyacetone) which is a simple carbohydrate that can be found in sugar beets and sugar cane. When DHA comes in contact with dead skin cells (the outermost layer of skin) it interacts with the amino acids (proteins), causing a browning effect, much like an apple does when exposed to the air. In comparison, a tan from the sun or tanning beds occurs when UV rays penetrate the lower layers of the epidermis, aka live skin cells.

Although a tan from UV rays may last longer than a spray tan, the health risks associated far outweigh the one and only upside.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
As hard as I’ve worked, I think that I’ve also been very fortunate in a lot of ways. I feel very lucky that my best friend, roommate, and boyfriend (of a decade) is also my business partner. They say that opposites attract (and they do), but it’s really crazy how well opposites can complement each other in business.

Not to say that we don’t fight, because we definitely do, but we are both so stubborn that the disagreement won’t end until we’ve settled on something that meets or exceeds both of our standards, which can be exhausting, but extremely productive.

Pricing:

  • Brazilian Sugaring $49
  • Airbrush Tan $39-$49

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Suzanne Skibinski

    August 23, 2018 at 11:09

    Congratulations to both you and Sammy. As a prior owner of a beauty shop, I know the hard work that goes into a business. The pictures are gorgeous. Best Wishes. Sue

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