Senior social work major Kathryn Carder has become one of Miami University’s most prominent and well-known student entrepreneurs. She decided to start her own spray tanning business after being denied a job working at the Oxford Palm Beach Tan.
“That was sort of my kick in the butt to start my own thing, but I definitely had to learn and grow with my company,” Carder said.
Since August 2018, her company Kathy Glows has been providing Miami students with quick and easy spray tans.
Especially popular among Miami’s Greek community, Carder has expanded her business from tanning a couple friends to having upwards of 60 clients per week while remaining a full-time student.
When clients book an appointment with Kathy Glows, they can expect a 10-15 minute appointment either at Carder’s apartment or in the comfort of their own home with Carder’s “glowbile” tanning. Tans are $15 each, and after 3 hours the clients can shower and their tan is ready.
“I know getting spray tanned can make people feel vulnerable, so it is super important to me to make sure the client is comfortable and has an easy experience,” Carder said.
Sunless tanning has become popularized more and more after the effects of UV tanning beds were shown to damage the skin. With sunless tans, such as the ones Kathy Glows provides, the wear and tear on the client’s skin is drastically reduced.
Carder said running her business has not been without its challenges. The company grew quickly and in full force, and she had to learn how to keep up with the growth to be able to continue doing what she loves.
“It got to a point where I had so many people texting me per week that I didn't even know,” Carder said. “I had to find an appointment planning company to work with and grow my social media presence to keep up.”
Senior Isabella Tersigni has been a long time customer of Kathy Glows and even stepped in to help Carder with public relations work like Instagram posts and stories to help the business grow even further.
“I think the reason Kathy’s business has outlasted other spray tan businesses in Oxford is because she is the most charismatic person I have ever met and is the type of person who can generate a following,” Tersigni said. “Getting a tan from her is a whole event because she always has a great story to tell and the tans are great quality.”
After just 5 months of being in business, Kathy Glows expanded beyond the red bricks of Miami, and another branch was started at Ursinus College. Carder personally trained Ellie LaFountain on the ins and outs of spray tanning, and LaFountain took these skills back to her own school.
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“At first the growth was slow,” LaFountain said. “I began mainly tanning my gymnastic teammates, but after a while business began to spread around campus.”
LaFountain has graduated since the branch started in 2018. She lives full time in Pittsburgh, and she says she still tans and hopes to continue growing and expanding Kathy Glows.
Senior LeeAnn Burczynski is one of Carder’s closest friends and has been with her throughout the whole business development process.
“[Carder] is such a genuine woman,” Burcynski said. “She helps me glow, and she helps me grow.”
As Carder comes to the end of her senior year, some are left asking what will happen to Kathy Glows after graduation.
Carder says she hopes to teach others how to tan and potentially pass down her business to a younger student at Miami, so the brand can continue to grow in Oxford.
“Who knows what will happen in the future,” Carder said. “But thank you to everyone who ever got a tan or talked about my business. Kathy Glows has truly shaped my Miami experience.”