Mumpreneurs: Skinny Tan’s Louise Ferguson and Kate Cotton

beach body
Franki Hobson


Apr 19, 2020

Having a baby is a life changing experience for any new mum. So why would women want to add the pressure of launching a new business while learning the art of parenting?

Louise Ferguson and her business partner Kate Cotton had their own reasons when they decided to launch the incredibly successful Skinny Tan in 2012. With two children each in toe, the pair have gone from one success to another and now, Skinny Tan is being launched globally. Here, Louise shares her tips for budding Mumpreneurs…

Who: Louise Ferguson and Kate Cotton

The Business: Skinny Tan

Why Skinny Tan?

Self-tanners have a tendency to dry the skin, smell bad and make you look like an orange Oompa Loompa! We knew there had to be a better way. Skinny Tan came to us because we both wanted a really good self-tanner that would also visibly reduce the cellulite we had acquired having kids. Kate had been using a Guarana cellulite cream and we both tanned to look thinner, so we decided to put the two together for a tan that also firmed the skin. We came across a 100 percent natural tanning agent derived from seeds that works with the amino acids in your skin so it looks completely real, never streaks, smells delicious and has no orange residue.

What was the light bulb moment to launch the business?

It was more a necessity – we wanted to be stay-at-home mums for the kids, but we also wanted an income and products that worked.

How old were your children?

My youngest, Jack, was almost one, and my daughter, Indiana, was 4. Kate has two children, Zachary, who was age 5 at the time and Matilda, who was age 3.

Business and a babies: how did you cope?

Looking back, having a newborn is something we now think, ‘My goodness! How did we do that?’ But all those mother hormones, love and goodness knows what else just gives you a power beyond yourself to do anything that’s required, without sleep!

And juggling the family?

We’ve always juggled work in some form, as most women have to these days. It’s hard and there is no time to relax, but we feel lucky that we get to be around our children, or at least within easy access to them while working. For me, my husband looks after them a lot, but I am always just upstairs in the home office if they need me. If I hear them cry, or laugh, or other exciting ‘first moments’, I can be there instantly or to join in. It’s very hard to say what an ideal situation is for mothers and children – we just muddle our way through as best we can with humour, hard work and gratitude.

What rules and systems did you implement?

We try not to answer work calls or talk Skinny Tan if our kids need our attention.  Kate’s children are at school now so we get most things done before the bell rings! My husband and I both work in the business, and we alternate work and time caring for the children between us. The beauty is that we can take our kids to the park or the beach and discuss work while we watch them play with each other. But the rule is ‘no work talk’ at the weekend while with the kids.

Any tips for budding Mumpreneurs?

Just do it!  Working creatively on something you love helps you feel passionate and fulfilled and that can make a positive role model. It also allows you the flexibility to be with your children, without worrying about the nine to five. It’s good to follow your dream but never forget the reason you did it was to spend more time with your children… Keep that in mind so you don’t lose track of your work and life balance.

Find Skinny Tan at…

We’re sold in Australia at, through Priceline, Terry White and Woolworths. We also sell online in the UK and are negotiating with the big retailers there, as well as launches in South Africa and Spain.

What’s next?

We plan to just keep going with our mission to rid the world of bright orange Oompa Loompas and help women with cellulite feel better about their bodies.

Starting your own business? Here’s how Louise and Kate did it…

Step 1. Identify the product. We decided what was core to making a dream tanning product (no streaking, no orange residue, no awful smell, anti-cellulite properties) and gave that brief and a benchmark of colours to Australia’s best natural products manufacturer.

Step 2. Test it. We tested sample after sample from the manufacturer among a keen group of tanners, who critiqued them until we had the perfect product.

Step 3. Find your unique selling point. We identified the uniqueness of our product unique and came up with the name ‘Skinny Tan’.

Step 4. Know your competition. We researched competitors and spoke to tube and box manufacturers, then registered the company and trademarked the name.

Step 5. Package it up. We briefed in box designers and had the finished products made up.

Step 6. Get your campaign in full swing. We wrote and designed various advertisements and a sales presentation.

Step 7. Find distributors. We presented the product to Priceline and when they said yes we began manufacturing. We then advertised the products and presented to other retailers.


By Franki Hobson


Franki Hobson has worn many hats during her many years as a women's lifestyle journalist and editor. Her launching pad was COSMOPOLITAN magazine, where she moved from News & Entertainment Editor to Features Director, covering everything from the legalisation of the Morning After Pill to Gwen Stefani, fashion, beauty, sex, health, fitness, entertainment and relationships. Franki Hobson is a contributing lifestyle writer for The Carousel.


The Carousel