The perfect natural, healthy glow just in time for warmer weather (and wedding season) with Gilded–your new go-to tanning boutique for a custom airbrush tan in Asheville, NC. Discover the beauty of a custom airbrush tan, meet the owner in this Q&A and enter to win* a free airbrush session for the Gilded Experience. (*Note: This giveaway has expired.)
I recently shared my history and unhealthy habit of tanning. We hear that tanning beds and UV exposure are bad for us, but do we really understand how bad? The concept doesn’t always resonate with us when having a glow just feels so good. Five years too long later of irreversible damage and life-long consequences, I came to my senses. I found comfort in being pale and discovered airbrush tans for the occasional and natural glow. For me, the experience is equally as important as the tan, which is why I always preferred tanning beds–it was much cleaner and more relaxing. But then I discovered the joy and comfort in a custom airbrush tan.
Gilded, LLC is a new tanning boutique that specializes in custom airbrush tan services for the ultimate personalized experience. I was so excited to hear about it opening in Asheville, I contacted the owner immediately about getting the “Gilded experience” firsthand. We connected right off the bat and before I knew it she was offering me champagne and airbrushing me bronze! A week later and I still have my color and yet to see any on my towel.
Meet Amanda Byerly, the owner, operator and dreamer behind Gilded, LLC. (She’s a gem.)
just ferriss: Tell me a little bit about the Gilded, LLC story. What was your initial vision?
Amanda Byerly: I first dreamed of owning my own UV tanning bed salon when I was in eighth grade. I bought a tanning package to get a “base tan” before going on my eighth grade trip to the outer banks. As soon as my skin started to brown was I was INSTANTLY HOOKED. The lady that owned the hair and tanning salon I went to took a liking to me, I suppose, and offered me a job cleaning the tanning beds after each client in exchange for free visits. The job was obviously less than glamorous but I loved every minute of it and learned as much from the owner as I could. I even drew blueprints of what my own tanning salon would look like someday. What I didn’t realize is that my love for tanning beds would soon turn in to a full on addiction. I eventually became one of those year round tanners like many other girls my age were at that time.
In 2010 I finally decided something needed to change and swore tanning beds off completely. I read an article in a magazine about a young mother of an infant and a two year old being diagnosed with stage four Melanoma and that was enough to make me pause and fully comprehend what I was doing to my body. But when spring rolled around I started to crave that golden glow again that I was so accustomed to. I remember thinking “how am I going to wear shorts and summer dresses with my lily-white legs glaring?” And so the search began… I tried all the drug store brand sunless tanners, I searched Sally’s Beauty Supply and I even tried the versa spa machines at Ultra Tan. But they all produced less than stellar results. I always turned out blotchy, orange or smelled funny. Finally in 2011 I discovered Infinity Sun equipment and solution. It was seriously like I had struck gold, no pun intended. I immediately told my now husband (boyfriend at the time) about it and how it had the potential to completely change the tanning industry forever. Finally in January 2015, with my husband’s blessing and his savvy business sense, I took the leap and started actively pursuing my life-long dream of giving clients a beautiful glow, but even better–a HEALTHY one. We purchased the equipment in October and with the Lord’s provision we were able to finally open our doors this past Saturday.
jf: When someone walks into Gilded, what can they expect?
AB: Our goal at Gilded is to provide more than just a service. We want to provide an experience as well. Gilded was designed using the boutique business model, meaning that we compete on service, a quality product and sensory experience rather than price. It’s very important for me to remember to do the little things during an appointment like offering the client something to drink when they arrive, walking them out to their car if it happens to be after dark, and personally texting or calling them the next day to check on them and make sure they are happy with their results. That’s what sets the boutique business model apart from all other business models and I really think that’s what will set Gilded apart from our competitors.
jf: You started Gilded because you wanted to offer people a positive and healthy tanning experience. What does it mean to you to be able to do that for people?
AB: Once I completely quit tanning for good and learned more and more about the harmful things it was doing to others and the potential harm it could cause me later in life I became very fearful. There are many nights I lie awake in bed and worry about the irreversible damage that I willingly did to myself. Because I was so young, I truly don’t think I knew any better. It’s so nice to be able to offer young girls an alternative and know that I am able to play a small part in keeping them out of harmful, cancer causing tanning beds. I was also ecstatic when North Carolina passed a bill last May prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from using tanning beds at all. Although I can’t go back in time and yank myself out of those tanning beds like I wish someone had done to me, I feel like offering a healthy alternative to others is the next best thing.
jf: What is it in an airbrush tan, particularly the custom airbrush tan, that makes the tan stay?
AB: The tanning agent is Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a colorless sugar that reacts with the amino acids in the keratin protein on the top layer of the skin to produce a tan similar to what you would receive from the sun. Our solution also contains erythrulose (a natural-based keto-sugar) which when combined with DHA makes the tan last longer, fade better and provides a better color tone. This nontoxic reaction produces a temporary browning effect similar to the browning effect seen when a cut apple slice is exposed to oxygen. This is not a stain or dye, but rather a chemical reaction that produces a color change on all treated skin. The main antioxidants in the solution include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, green tea, ginger root extract, walnut shell extract, and aloe.
jf: Other than sunless/UV tanning, are there any benefits of the airbrush tan product itself?
AB: The solution we use is different than others because ours contains many antioxidants and botanicals. Airbrush tanning and spray tanning tends to be very drying to the skin, but our solution hydrates your skin at the same time. We always spray our clients first with our Normalize elixir–a clear spray that assists in hydrating the porous areas of the body. It basically evens out the canvas before we start painting on it. We also offer an anti-aging elixir and a shimmer elixir for an additional charge.
jf: What are your goals for Gilded in the future?
AB: My communications degree from UNC Asheville equipped me with a strong foundation in marketing and branding and so a major goal I have is to develop Gilded into a full on brand. I’ve had a lot of fun with it so far. Ideally I would love to be able to open multiple locations throughout the southeast, but right now I’m just taking it one day at a time.
jf: And just because I always ask…. what do you love about Asheville? What keeps you here?
AB: I was born at Mission Hospital and have lived here my whole life. Honestly, there is no other place I would rather be. I’ve watched Asheville grow and evolve and I’m proud to consider myself a local in the “Paris of the South.” But if I had to name one thing that keeps me here, it has to be our amazing food and restaurant scene. You CANNOT beat Asheville’s food. Curate’, Admiral, Bouchon, Nightbell, Buxton Hall (my husband’s personal fav) and the list goes on.
However, I wouldn’t mind living on a yacht in the South of France a couple of months out of the year either. With my airbrush gun in tow, of course. 😉
Happy and healthy tanning! Xx