Michelle Petrie has come up with an ingenious way to keep Buffalonians glowing all winter long. She has created a custom mobile airbrush tanning business that is unlike anything else around. That’s because Michelle, and her tanning center, comes directly to you. That’s right. Michelle has created a portable spray tanning operation that she takes with her on the road. This allows customers to get spray tans in the comfort of their own homes.
I met up with Michelle last evening to discuss her business, that she launched a year ago. She told me that she was once in the cosmetics business, and worked with a lot of people who were tanning in tanning beds. She was sure that the tanning beds were not very good for the skin longterm, and set out researching alternative forms of tanning. Unfortunately, for a long time, the art of applying a tan was not what it is today. “In 1960 Coppertone had come up with a sunless tanner,” explained Michelle. “It was called Quick Tan and it was terrible. It did not look natural. This was really the start of the tanning generation. California always led the way for trying to find the best and the safest ways to tan. People were already aware that tanning beds and direct sun would cause wrinkles earlier in life, but no one had come up with a spray tan that was healthy, effective and looked real.”
It was only recently that spray tanning became a desirable tanning option, thanks to an organic DHA plant source. It was perfect timing. With the advent of the Kardashians, it looked as if the pastime of tanning was still as popular as ever. “Spray tanning really got its start in the 1980s,” said Michelle. “But everyone that used it looked orange. It was only when the industry began to make organic, gluten free, paraben free, all natural spray tanning with no chemicals that I decided that I wanted to get into this business. With DHA in the product, the range of color was richer and darker. The product that I use is called Million Dollar Tan out of California. It’s big in California, for people who want to have a tan without being exposed to the harmful rays of the sun or tanning beds. I figured that I needed to create a business, offering this as an alternative right here in Buffalo.”
Once Michelle set her sights on the optimal product, she wanted to come up with a clever way to deliver the service to the masses – something quick, healthy, easy, and inexpensive. She figured that if she didn’t have to pay for a brick and mortar, that she could pass the savings along to the customers. Thus Bronzed Rebel was born.
After doing a little brainstorming, Michelle came up with the idea of bringing this new service directly to the customer. She invested in a mobile package that includes a small tent that be set up right inside someone’s house or apartment. From set up to break down, the process takes 45 minutes, and costs $35. Michelle suggests that for those who want to maintain the glow throughout the winter (that’s when most people are looking to add a little color), they set up an appointment every two weeks. To Michelle, it’s important that people feel good in their own skin – year round. She considers herself an artist who works on creating a naturally looking glow for those who want to feel good about themselves. She has even gone so far as to add contour effects to the body, which she says has been a big hit with clients.
Sure, spring to fall, we all have a natural glow from walking and biking out in the sun, but come winter, some people want to feel as if they still have that connection with the sun. Michelle says that it’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin – it’s not for everybody, but for those who like to have a little color, why not choose the safest, best looking tan around? Plus, a lot of her clients stay with her throughout the course of the year – after all who doesn’t want to maintain that glow when it’s sundress and shorts season?
The way that I look at is this: Buffalo should have access to all of the services that other cities have. Bronzed Rebel is completely new and unique to this city. Michelle is not originally from Buffalo, she hails from Rochester. “But after 20 years, I now call Buffalo home,” she said proudly. “My husband, four kids and one grandson live in North Buffalo. My business services areas within an hour’s drive. I am requested by girls and guys, for girls night out, weddings, or by individuals who are going on vacation or simply want to look healthy.”
In years to come, Michelle is thinking that her next move might be to buy an airstream trailer that she can deck out as a beauty mobile. Services might include everything from massages to makeovers. In the meantime, she is concentrating on one mobile spray tan at a time. “In the end, my biggest reward is seeing the smiles on the faces of my clients – what could be better than getting glammed up at home, without even having to leave the house?”
Lead image: Two of Michelle’s clients are happy to show off their afterglows