It’s a “darker” spin on traditional story of entrepreneurial spirit.
In 2010, Marzena Papierz was working for a commercial real estate firm in the City. After a five year-period that saw the former teacher rise from receptionist to office manager, she knew she wanted to become her own boss, but a business idea wasn’t forthcoming. A visit to a New Jersey tanning salon, at a friend’s recommendation, however, led to the spark that a year later would become Amber Organic Tan Studio.
What made that New Jersey salon unique, and started Papierz on the path to self employment, was a completely organic tanning formula, airbrushed on, with the resulting color as natural as one from the beach. Armed with an idea, Papierz began to develop her plan. “I’m Polish and I know many Polish women who love to tan and to use tanning beds, which I hate, since staying healthy has always been a big part of my life,” she said. “So I thought, let me get my ducks in a row and let me try it in Greenpoint. Once I was sure I wanted to do it, the location seemed obvious.”
Papierz’ client base, however, is split evenly between American and Polish customers, and she notes a sharp contrast between their attitudes about tanning. “Americans are more aware of the damage UV rays can do to your skin and they take care of their skin more than the Poles I deal with. The Poles are like ‘oh I know, but…,’ while the Americans are more aware of what’s happening to their health, not just their skin and their beauty. They’re not only thinking about wrinkles, they’re thinking about skin cancer.”
Papierz hopes to use her teaching skills to show her clients that her system works. “They say ‘I know it’s unhealthy,’ so I knew it would be hard to explain that there are different options, but I gave it a try and it caught on pretty quickly.” Papierz said the lab that develops her formula has been in business for over 15 years and that he’s been using it for more than two, noting a lack of side effects or allergic reactions. “I tan my face every week and am always asked ‘where did you go on vacation?’ No one has ever asked me if I went to a tanning salon,” she said. “The color is very natural.”
Most of Amber’s clients come in before a big event, like a wedding, to try to look better. That’s what brought Jennifer Carter to Amber, where she is now a regular. “I saw the sign that said ‘organic tanning’ and tried it before a party and it came out great,” she said. “You never come out yellow or orange and there are never streaks. Compared to laying out on the beach, it doesn’t take nearly as long and you don’t have to worry about burning. The color is dead on, and with this, you almost get instant gratification.”
Amber Organic Tan Studio currently operates out of Nassau Avenue’s Beauty & Beyond. Prices start at $20 for face and neck tanning and go to $50 for total body. Skin treatments to help tone and tighten skin are also available, as is mobile service for bridal parties and other on-site events. For a limited time, Amber is offering a 20% discount to encourage new clients.
“Making money and making a living are obviously very important,” said Papierz, “but I also wanted to do something good, to show people that they have healthy options as far as tanning. Such a little, tiny and you might say silly thing, but I think it’s extremely important.”
Amber Organic Tan Studio
108 Nassau Avenue
Tuesday – Friday 11AM – 7PM
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