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Meet Holly Freeman of The Vanity Van Tans

Today we’d like to introduce you to Holly Freeman.

Holly, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
After 12 years of climbing in the corporate world, I was laid off in November 2016. I was forced to make a decision; stay in the corporate world or take a risk and pursue a dream I had for years. I wanted to do something that made people happy and feel amazing.

Being a very fair skinned redhead, I don’t tan very well and tend to burn. While getting an airbrush spray tan I thought what if I brought this service to the client’s door but in a very different manner than the traditional mobile tanning professionals. For years I had a vision of creating a mobile sunless tanning salon but I never acted on it because I had a steady, good paying job, no time to think of building something else, and of course some fear of failure. I knew it was time for a change and just like that, Vanity Van Tans was born!

For those of you that have never had a spray tan, you get all the color and benefits of a suntan without any of the health risks! However, some of the inconveniences with standard spray tanning salons is that you must arrive for your session without wearing makeup, lotions or deodorant for your appointment; you must also wear dark baggy clothing so as not to ruin the spray tan immediately after your session. All of this while you try to find parking (in Los Angeles is very tough) and then usually end up walking far to and from your car. This can be very unpleasant and uncomfortable to say the least!

Most mobile tanning professionals come with their spray equipment and a pop up tent which the client stands in for the session. The tent can create shadows and leaves a mess in the client’s home because it does not capture the overspray. Proper lighting and overspray reduction equipment are very important for a flawless tan. No one wants to clean up after a professional leaves!

My goal was to create the same luxury experience you’d receive in a salon but in a fun, relaxed mobile setting. I had a vision of what I wanted for years but thought there was no way I could make it happen with little to no capital. Where there is a will there’s a way so I remained determined. I traded in my car as a down payment on a brand new high roof sprinter type van. Then the real work began.

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?
It took about 8 months of working on the van and putting in long hours with good friends coupled with blood, sweat and tears but I finally finished the mobile salon in June of 2017. There were many obstacles, the first being the van itself having multiple issues that the dealership could not seem to fix which lead me to eventually hiring a law firm that handles lemon law cases. This case is still pending settlement but a brand-new replacement van was not an option since I already put so much time and money into it.

The second obstacle was the over spray reduction booth which was ordered specifically for the height of the van. When it arrived, it was taller than the manufacturer had it listed and it would not fit but the good news is that the booth was made of a lightweight plastic material so I kept it and decided it would be easier to have it custom cut to fit.

This was not an easy task either but thanks to determination (and a friend that was a builder in the Navy and an electrician) we were able to take it apart, cut it, and put it back together. Now it was time to design the interior. I made some calls to former flooring and Air conditioning vendors from my Property Management days who were nice enough to donate materials and cheaper labor. As you can imagine nothing was easy since the inside surfaces of the van were uneven. Even a simple task like hanging a mirror was difficult and had to be framed out. The vent fan which was needed for even more ventilation and overspray reduction was another very tricky task. We had to find a way to install it into the roof of the van and then directly into the roof of the overspray booth. This was a very long day of work and scary to watch holes put into my van roof but it was a success! I even installed the ceiling and wall installation myself.

Since I kept running into unexpected delays, I took nanny jobs to help me get by. One of the nanny employers built my beautiful sink cabinet for the van in exchange for some babysitting.

The next challenge was finding a generator to run the AC and a way to install it on the back of the van. After a lot of research, I decided on a very quiet (but very expensive) generator which had to be shipped to me. Of course, brand new out of the box and it didn’t work so I had to take it to a warranty repair shop (just my luck!). Until I could get my generator back, I had to see clients in early morning and late at night when it was cooler out. Finding a box that would fit my exact generator with proper access points and ventilation was very hard. After months of research I found a place that would custom make it for only $325 instead of the thousands of dollars most places quoted me.

We were almost there, we just had to find a creative way to install the generator on the back of the van but with some out of the innovative thinking we got the job done!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Vanity Van Tans – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
After personally testing out many spray tan solutions on the market, my final decision was to use a solution that is doctor formulated, and made from the highest quality organic DHA (the sugar that tans your skin). The products are all FDA approved and they do not have fragrance, alcohol or harsh chemicals and is hypoallergenic. In addition, I went to San Diego for a weekend of one on one training and certification on sunless tanning and marketing. There are a lot of airbrush tanning professionals but unfortunately not all obtain this training.

What sets a session with The Vanity Van apart from the rest? Not only will your tan look natural, we can go as light or as dark as the client wants. I customize the percentage of DHA for each client based on their skin type/tone and level of desired tan. The Vanity Van Tan will fade naturally and last longer especially if you follow my pre- and post-tan care tips and tricks. Avoiding moisturizers with oils or alcohol is important as this can fade your tan unevenly and prematurely. In addition to selling items that help maintain your tan, I take the time to really get to know the client’s skin type and have them complete a detailed intake form prior to the session. Attention to details such as proper blending and buffing combined with the application of a special finishing powder make a huge difference. The finishing powder contains many skin benefits such as caffeine for skin firming and removes any tacky/sticky feeling, and it contains Kaolin clay that absorbs moisture to prevent streaks if you happen to sweat before your first shower.

Lastly and most importantly, is customer service. It is especially important to make the customer feel comfortable with me since most clients are not wearing anything except their birthday suit for the session! I always follow up to ensure customer satisfaction as this is very important to me, and all of this is what keeps my clients coming back.

A few benefits of having the mobile salon including being able to offer a wide range of packages and pricing options. I work with local salons as an independent contractor for referrals, pop up events, house calls, spray and wedding parties. I also have some clients come to my location for a lower rate if my schedule allows it.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am very much looking forward to having several Vanity Vans out there and eventually a brick and mortar salon that offers full body scrubs to exfoliate properly prior to your session as well as the Vanity Van Tan and other beauty services. My next step however is to be a vendor in bridal expos to target that market as they do not currently have anything like my service.

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