This week Vitness spoke with Suzi Hurley, the uber cool founder of The Walnut Club Spray Tan and boutique salon in London. Fake tan is now the healthy way to achieve that golden glow we all want in the summer months, as the damage the actual sun does to your skin is undeniable. With 90% of skin ageing resulting from UV exposure, not to mention the potential for causing cancer, it's no wonder The Walnut Club is growing...
A favourite of ours at Vitness HQ and with a host of celebrity clients, it is London’s only dedicated mobile spray tanning service creating the best and most gorgeous tans. We chatted about what inspired Suzi to set up her own business…
What was the thinking behind setting up the Walnut Club?
I found that there was a gap in the market for what’s actually a premium treatment and hard to get right; fundamentally, every time I wanted a spray tan, and every place I went to get it done, it was always added to the bottom of a treatment list. It would be nails, facial, massage then at the bottom they would throw in spray tan.
I always found that the places I went to were always really good at nails etc and trained in all other areas and at the interview they were probably asked ‘can you spray tan as well?’ and they’d be like ‘yeah…probably’.
So the goal of the Walnut club was to perfect the art of spray tanning?
Yes, nowhere specialised in a treatment that actually is quite difficult to get right. So I wanted to set up a company that did that really well and only did spray tanning with the best products, using the best solutions and the best preparation.
I found that certain techniques of applying spray tan meant that it always comes out really well... And unless you do it constantly you don’t get to be an expert at that.
Offering a mobile service was about catering for busy and professional people, who can’t nessacarily run out at 11am and get a quick spray tan, we go to offices, radio stations, office parties, hotel rooms...
So that was the idea, do a really good product done brilliantly that just wasn't being done well.
You are a member of The Future Girl Corp – tell us about that.
About 2 years ago, I entered a competition that you had to submit a pitch to become part of a cohort called Future Girl Corp – set up by Sharmadene Reid who started Wah Nails in Soho – I’ve always been interested in what she's doing and how she's doing it. Her business idea was similar in that every salon does nails, but she wanted to be the best and create a brand behind the nails – not just deliver the service.
She was really into femail entrepeneurship and female businesses, she was keen to share her experiences and work with women, helping them with business processes and skills you need to run a successful business. The business world is a very closed and relatively male dominated and can be a dark place to navigate on your own, so the thinking behind the Future Girl Corperation was to guide and support female entrepreneurs.
It’s a fantastic resource and support network that covers everything from finance, to recruitment and day-to-day management issues.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
Really define your business strategy, and not just for the next couple of years, but right to exit; build an exit strategy that allows all your work, investment and time to be put to good use in the right direction. Ultimately it’s about thinking about the bigger picture and to put systems in place to build a solid foundation.
Also, define what it is you actually want to do. If you can’t sum it up in one understandable sentence, it’s probably too diffused.
Future plans for the Walnut club
We just launched our first store, located in Highbury Islington. The Walnut Club lifestyle store encompasses tanning, beauty treatments, gifts and a coffee/juice bar. What sets it apart is we have therapists that specialise in their chosen area of beauty, so you will have someone who is an expert in one or two things, rather than a therapist who does 8 things mediocrely. It is essentially a space to enjoy a range of expertly delivered treatments and relax.
One piece of advice before a spray tan..?
Obviously shower, exfoliate, shave etc, but don’t do it immediately before the spray tan. Your skin needs time to settle back down so wait a couple of hours at least before your spray tan.
You can book a spray tan with Suzi and her team at The Walnut Club store at 164A Blackstock Road, Islington, N5 1HA. Mobile service also available, check out www.thewalnutclub.co.uk and social media @the_walnut_club for more details.