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Meet Dila Djokaj of L.A. Sun Spray Tan in Downtown LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dila Djokaj of L.A. Sun Spray Tan

Thanks for sharing your story with us Dila. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Before I started doing spray tans, I was working as a bartender and VIP bottle server to make ends meet, while also DJing (aka DYLA) in the house music scene. I was introduced to some friends that own Ultra Tanning and Contempo Day Spa in San Dimas where I started working there a couple days a week. I learned how to do spray tanning from one of the best – my mentor Jaime had already been doing spray tans for 12 years at that time, so I was very lucky to learn from her. It came relatively natural for me, as I’ve always had artistic ability and loved to draw growing up.

Around this time, I had a friend who was staying with me who had a DJ gig she wanted a tan for. She booked a mobile spray tan from someone local in LA since I didn’t yet have my own equipment to do it for her. Unfortunately for her, but in retrospect fortunately for me, the spray tan turned out terrible – very uneven and fake looking, clearly not what she was expecting. That experience served as the stepping point for me to start my own mobile spray tanning business. It was a natural fit since it became difficult working on both sides of nightlife – the schedule in hospitality and DJing became very conflicting. Having my own business that provided high-quality mobile tans during the day would also allow more time in the evening for my love of DJing.

While the seed was planted, as with most small businesses, the ultimate manifestation of my original plan didn’t exactly work out the way it was supposed to. One day I got a call from a small group of USC students who were desperate for tans, except they didn’t have a location for me to go to. They said they would “ totally come to your apartment, we don’t care at all… ”, and so I had them come over. Soon after, I kept getting calls from more people wanting to come over and get spray tans. Word was spreading and clients were coming back saying it was the best tan they’ve ever gotten. And that’s how the first L.A. Sun Spray Tan studio location was born – in my small DTLA studio apartment.

Since then I’ve been very blessed to work with all types of clients including young business professionals, brides, wedding parties, celebrities and some of the top models in the industry. It’s been almost seven years now, thousands of spray tans later, and I still love what I do. It makes me feel good knowing that others trust me with their tans and I help them gain the confidence that we all look for from time to time. I knew that I was good at spray tanning but never really knew what would happen and how my life would change – needless to say, it’s been over three years since I’ve last played a DJ gig.

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?
There are always pluses and minuses when working for yourself and it’s never really easy. Not everyone is going to support you and your choices, including friends, especially if they don’t understand the scope of things. Navigating the new age of social media marketing can be fun but also challenging – countless times I see posts from photoshoots where I’ve done the spray tan and get no credit for my work but everyone else involved does.

One of the biggest challenges for me throughout the years has been with my locations. I’ve had to move to a new location every two years since I’ve started this business and it’s a big task every time with so much to consider. Having proper ventilation is always a challenge and one of the most important things to think about, but far too often overlooked. Then there’s the placement of everything, as each piece affects something else, for example, if I put the air filter too close to where I’m spraying it will affect the tan. I painted my new space so dark that figuring out proper lighting kept me up for days. It’s a new puzzle every time.

The first move was a blessing – I got written up in a major publication (Allure Magazine) and business continued to really take off for me so I expanded into a beautiful live / work loft space. After the first year, I got a notice that the owners of the loft wanted to sell. Luckily I had a two-year lease, so I had some time to figure things out.

My next move was in another live / workspace that worked out great for the business. Expecting to be there long term, I had remodeled one restroom into my perfect spray tan room, gutting it out and doing major modifications. But when my two year lease was up this past July, the building had gone under new ownership that claimed the loft “ is not really live/work, so we aren’t going to resign your lease. ” I was devastated – this came unexpectedly and I had put so much time, money and effort into this space.

I began looking for a new location right away and couldn’t find another suitable live / work situation. Thankfully I came across an available room at RA Loft inside the penthouse of the Standard Oil Building, which is my current location. I had a very intense summer working 16-18 hr days for weeks getting my new workspace ready, a new apartment ready, remodeling the old spray tan room back to its original condition, moving both locations and taking clients all at the same time.

For the first time in almost seven years, I split up my living space from my workspace. This was a big decision for me since I’ve always run my business privately out of where I live to cater to my clientele. At the end of the day, I believe it was the best decision – not only for my physical and mental health but for the convenience of my clients as well. The benefit of being at RA Loft means that my clients have a one-stop for haircuts, manicures, etc. if they want to book other beauty services, and the space is still very private and easily accessible.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the L.A. Sun Spray Tan story. Tell us more about the business.
I specialize in custom airbrush spray tanning. I’m known for making my clients look and feel their best with the most natural-looking tan. There is definitely an art behind the process – I don’t just “spray” someone with an even flat tan. I emphasize certain parts of the body, giving it dimension and a very natural look. I love it when my clients tell me they saw someone with a gorgeous tan and when they ask where they got it, they find out they are both coming to me.

I am very detailed oriented, not only with my spray tans but also with my clients. I develop relationships with them and have some that have been consistently coming to me for over six years, since the beginning in my small studio apartment. It still amazes me when a client tells me they came all the way from the west side or an hour away just to see me. When an out of state client I had spray-tanned just once came to see me while staying in Palm Springs, I was shocked- she had made a stop to DTLA just for her spray tan on her way to San Diego!

I am very proud of the reputation and clientele I have built over the years. I recently spray tanned a few models for LAFW and the agency sent me a personal message raving about how beautiful they all looked on the runway. I’m always looking to expand the business and make other people feel their best.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I was very lucky to have met Jaime and learn spray tanning from her since she had already been doing it for many years when I met her. I’m also very lucky to have had her support of me starting my own business-  she’s been a tremendous help even to this day.

Pricing:

  • Every Tuesday and Wednesday 4-8pm $10 OFF
  • Students take $10 OFF w/ valid student i.d.
  • Mobile service available – call for quote outside of DTL

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Cody McGibbon
Adam Bartoshesky
Thomas Knights
Daniel Mesa
Kevin Weinert
Boone Studios

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