We had the good fortune of connecting with Luinella De Freitas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Luinella, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
After a few years of living stateside, and with our son now a tween, I started thinking of ways to invest my time and entrepreneurial skills. I’ve always been attracted to the idea of providing a service or merchandise and focusing of the customer satisfaction. Some old friends from back home had a spray tanning franchise that I thought could be a perfect match for my time availability and skills.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Most people love the sun and a nice looking tan. Our customers can have our manually applied, organic and natural looking spray tan can be applied to any skin tone. It’s like you just came back from a trip to the beach, with the benefit of avoiding sun exposure and being able to have it at any time of the year. Our customers leave our salon looking great and feeling better and more confident about themselves. Starting up without an existing customer base and zero local brand calling was a huge challenge. They say word of mouth is the best advertisement, so we started to get known by reaching out to local potential customers and offering a free first spray tan. Slowly but surely those initial customers were very satisfied with our product and started telling their friends and family. When business started to pick up, Covid-19 hit and we were basically back to square one. We decided not to let our small business go under and worked with our lessor and franchise on temporary reduced fees. In our mind, just staying above water is better than closing and seeing it all go to waste. No matter the challenge, and this was a huge one for every business, you must try to find a way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Day 1: A walk on the campus of Rice University and then at Hermann Park. Then we would get to our appointment at Alira Spa for an Aromatherapy Massage with our friend Escarle Silva, the owner. Afterwards, a late lunch/dinner at Common Bond. Day 2: Visit the tunnels under the Houston Downtown and then to Rothko Chapel. Then a guaranteed great meal at Sal y Pimienta at City Centre in the Energy Corridor. Day 3: Visit Meli Beauty Salon for a make-up session, then a photo shoot with photographer Lee Febres will give us a nice memento from the visit. Day 4: Drive down to Kemah near the gulf for a few amusement park rides and a nice lunch at the Kemah Boardwalk. On our way back, an ice cream stop at La Argentina. Day 5: Visit BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple in Sugar Land, then lunch at Japaneiro Restaurant in the Sugar Land Town Centre. Day 6: Enjoy a day at the Houston Zoo, and then a visit to the Galleria Mall for shopping. Late lunch/dinner around the posh River Oaks area. Day 7: Wake up late, then a typical Texan lunch at Rudy’s. Afternoon/Night at Braman Winery to enjoy live country music and local food and drinks.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband, son, sisters, parents, uncle and aunt. They’ve all put their two cents and support behind my business project.
Photographer: Lee Febres. Model: Andrea Pulgar