If you’re obsessed with faking up your summer glow, then chances are you’ve come across Bondi Sands – the number one selling product of all time at Priceline. We had a chat with Blair James, co-founder and director of Bondi Sands about his next moves.
What’s the story behind the brand?
Prior to Bondi Sands I actually opened a beauty salon in Melbourne in 2006 – spray tans were a big part of our business, but we were getting so busy that we were turning customers away. We had the idea to create our own spray tan solution, and the process took about two years, but we got to the point where we created the perfect product that customers loved. We then rolled out a self-tanning range that would basically address issues of smell, longevity and colour… and that’s where it all started. We started with three products in 2012, and it’s really grown from there.
We just sold into the UK with Superdrug, and we’ll be in about 500 stores. We’re also going to look into expanding into the US this year.
The tanning market is quite big in the UK, do you think it’s similar to the Australian tanning market?
It has changed. The UK in the past loved that really orange Geordie Shore tan, and it’s evolved from that. Here in Australia our dark foam is by far the best seller, but in the UK the gradual tanning milk is pushing for the top spot which is a big surprise – especially as Superdrug weren’t even looking to take on that product in the beginning! That more natural colour is what customers in the UK are after. It’s also because we get a lot of sun over here and people are used to having that dark colour anyway.
The dark foam is the number one selling product in Priceline. Why do you think that is?
I think it goes back to the salon formula – it’s literally a spray tan formula that you can do at home. It also smells good, lasts long on the skin, and the colour of the tan is quite natural. Once you apply it, it dries on your skin in a couple of minutes… but at the end of the day it’s the colour that works for us. This is all from testing in the salon over a couple of years, it does make a difference.
Do you have any new products in the works?
We have a few new products coming out. There’s going to be a folding back applicator… I guess a lot of boyfriends will probably be glad that we brought out this product. It folds out and snaps open, and the idea was literally prompted by social media. That comes out around August-September this year.
We have an exfoliation mitt coming out as well. As you know a big part of the tanning process is prepping the skin. Also you can correct any tanning mistakes that you’ve made, you can remove it from your hands.
We’re also releasing a salon solution range so I guess we are going back to our roots.
Do you have any advice for people looking to start their own business?
Trust your initial instincts. We found that when we first launched Bondi Sands, there were experts in the industry that had these preconceived notions of how things should be done. When we launched the brand, we were the first to launch black packaging for a self-tanning brand. We have black for the dark tanning foam, and white packaging for light to medium. A lot of people in packaging or the beauty industry were saying it needed to be gold or bronze… we literally just didn’t believe that. When we launched this product, it literally jumped off the shelves. It is trusting that feeling of what people will like.
Do you think having a background in the tanning industry helps as well?
Absolutely. Just to be able to get that first-hand feedback from customers and seeing what they actually like… it’s one thing testing and getting feedback on your own products, but it also gives you that unique positioning of see what people are already using and helps form your own brand ideas.
What’s your favourite product and why?
As a guy, the gradual tanning lotion is my favourite. I don’t like looking as though I’ve tanned. It smells good, the colour is really natural. Every time I wear it I do get asked if I just went on holidays. It is a really natural colour.
Do you have any great application tips and tricks?
To get your tan to last longer, use the dark foam first and then the next day after you’ve washed your tan off, apply the gradual tanner after that. There’s a reason why that tan can’t last 2-3 weeks if you’re using the gradual tanner daily.
Molly (who looks after social media) uses the wash-off product and then she applies the gradual tanner on top of it so it’s more of a paste. It’s easier to blend. That way you’ve got a flawless colour, and it’ll develop along the way.
What’s your top tanning tip? Tell us in the comments below.