Courtney Claghorn doesn’t tan easily. One Memorial Day she went on a bike ride, forgot to put sunscreen on her legs, and subsequently got so burned the tan lines were there the following Memorial Day.
She learned from that mistake.
Six years ago Courtney was set to be a bridesmaid in a summer wedding and had a trip planned to Florida. She had just graduated from University of Colorado Boulder and moved to LA. She was working 9-5 and was never in the sun. She needed a tan STAT.
Sitting on the couch one night with her boyfriend, Sam Offit, researching spray tan places in her new—much more expensive—city she became discouraged by the inflated prices the salons were asking. In Boulder they were half the price. After explaining to a confused (and naturally-tan) Sam why it’s important for a woman to be tan—“It makes you feel more confident, like all your muscles are toned and you’ve just lost five pounds!”—he suggested that if Boulder could do it at that low of a price point, then surely there must be a way to find a happy medium in LA.
Despite not knowing how to airbrush tan, despite having a full time corporate job, and despite the fact that Courtney was just 23, Sugared + Bronzed was born that day.
Now, on the cusp of opening their eighth store in Studio City, with store locations from Santa Monica to Pennsylvania to New York City, Courtney and Sam’s idea of creating an affordable place for women to enhance their beauty naturally has proved to be effective. Their offerings include custom tans by hand and a variety of sugaring services done by experienced “Sugar-istas.” The products they use are eco-friendly and derive from sugar beets and sugar cane. They strive to provide a healthier option for their clients—everyone knows that tanning beds are just plain dangerous, and sugaring is a gentler, less painful, and more sanitary alternative to waxing.
Setting up shop in Courtney’s apartment, she learned her new trade by practicing on friends. News spread quickly through word of mouth and online reviews. Once they put up a website it snowballed. “The business started growing like tree branches and I couldn’t quit my job fast enough. That’s when we were like ‘Okay, we’re ready to sign a commercial lease, let’s get out of the apartment,’” she says—hence, their OG salon in Santa Monica off of Montana Avenue.
Courtney had to quickly learn how to run a business. “It’s a really eccentric laundry list of things I’ve learned along the way—I know so much about construction I feel like I could custom build a home,” she laughs. She had to figure out what values she wanted to portray in her practices. Ideals like keeping the salon eco-friendly, the importance of having fun and being personal with clients, and of course, exemplary customer service—“Kindness, happiness, it’s all free, so you might as well spread it everywhere!”
About to turn 30, Courtney, along with Sam who is still her boyfriend and business partner, have created a company they are proud of and feel good about. With a trademark that demands that you “Feel Flawless,” Courtney knows that it helps when you feel nice and smooth with a golden glow. “I’m a big believer that when you feel your best, you’re a better person, you put more out there, and you’re more on you’re A-game.”
Here’s to hoping we’ll all remember to “Feel Flawless” this summer before the sunburns hit.
Kidding Courtney, Kidding.
Lindsay DeLong is the Managing Editor of The Fullest, and she agrees, sunburns are way overrated. You can find her in SPF 50 at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media via @lindizzaster.