Clinton woman gets an early start in tanning business

Kelsea Tipping with one of her tanning beds: “I really got lucky.”

Most 20-year-olds today just hope they can find a job. Kelsea Tipping found a business.

“It fell into my lap,” she said. “I was here working for my grandparents, I heard this was for sale and I jumped on it.”

Tipping owns Island Glow Tanning Salon, formerly Urban Roots Tanning. She has been open for business at Clinton Square behind the Chevron service station since Aug. 1.

“I’m blessed to be starting a business this young,” Tipping said. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of family. I really got lucky.”

She grew up in Snohomish County and graduated from Lake Stevens High School, but has been coming to Whidbey Island for years to visit her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Is she nuts, starting a business in this economy?

“It crossed my mind,” Tipping said, “but tanning is always popular. People enjoy warming up, especially in Washington.”

“Tanning is good,” she added. “People here don’t get enough sunshine, and that’s bad for your health.”

She said she has always been a multi-tasking person, which is fortunate, because she said she’s spending 10 to 12 hours a day at her new salon.

In high school she played soccer and sang in the choir. After high school, she was teaching in a childcare facility and taking education courses at Skagit Valley College when she decided to become a Whidbey entrepreneur.

“I’ve always been busy,” Tipping said. “This keeps me very busy.”

She said she gets a lot of help from her many relatives on the island. This past week, her sister Cassidy, 11, was busy with odd jobs around the salon.

“We’re very family oriented,” Tipping said. “There’s always family going in and out of here.”

Tipping’s tidy little four-room operation includes two tanning rooms.

One contains a medium-pressure bed with new acrylics and bulbs designed for a 12-minute blast of artificial sunshine. The other contains a 20-minute low-pressure rig.

Tipping already is heavily into marketing, offering a discount on the first month’s unlimited-tanning package, and discounts for students, military personnel and customers older than 62. And there are gift certificates.

She also offers individual sessions, along with a line of lotions, moisturizers and other tanning accessories.

Three visits a week can get you going on a tan, she said, “and once you get a base, coming once a week is fine.”

Tipping’s cousin, Danyelle Leggett, dropped by. Leggett, 18, of Useless Bay, graduated from South Whidbey High School this year.

She said tanning is all the rage among the high-school set.

“Some guys do it, but mostly it’s a girl thing,” she said. “We all want to be a little darker — especially on Whidbey Island.”

Tipping said she has enjoyed tanning for years, but had no formal training in the business before she started.

“I’m kind of learning along with my customers,” she said.

Washington state doesn’t require a specific certificate, but Tipping has started an online course that she says will increase her expertise.

She said she has three classes left to obtain an associate’s degree from community college, and plans to transfer to Skagit Valley College’s Whidbey campus.

Meanwhile, she’s living with her grandparents in Clinton and spending most of her time at the salon.

“I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time myself to tan,” she said.

“But I have to find the time. It makes me feel good.”

Island Glow Tanning Salon is at 6315 Storkson Drive, Suite 105, in Clinton.

Hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. by appointment, and 12:30 to 7 p.m. for appointments and walk-ins.

For more information, call 341-6101.