Gettysburg College - Business + Economics
Part 1 of 2: Get to know Julie's co-owner, Susie Celek, tomorrow on I Want Her Job.
Julie Dorenbos is one half of the duo behind Skin Palette, a sunless tanning salon in Philadelphia. After several years of working in finance and weekends at the beach, Julie changed her career and lifestyle following a friend’s diagnosis with skin cancer. She set out to create a safe bronzing environment, shunning UV tanning beds in favor of a healthy alternative. Along with best friend and business partner Susie Celek, she became a certified sunless tanning expert and co-founded Skin Palette in 2011.
Julie graduated with a degree in business and economics and worked at financial services giant ING. Five years and several sales awards later, she made the leap to skincare and opened Skin Palette. Since then, the business has been recognized for excellence and garnered positive reviews in Allure, InStyle and Philadelphia magazine. In addition to Skin Palette, Julie models and makes appearances on local media. She's married to Philadelphia Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos and has appeared with friend Kendra Wilkinson on the TV show, "Kendra."
Julie recognizes hard work and girl power for getting her to where she is today. “There is no doubt the most important component to Skin Palette's success is the relationship between my business partner, Susie, and me,” says Julie. “We believe there are no challenges too big for the both of us.”
Strive to create a career for yourself where you jump out of bed in the morning excited to get to work.
Can you talk more about the development of Skin Palette?
I spent five years at ING working as a sales associate, variable annuity wholesaler and business development manager. During this time, my two loves were financial services during the week and the Avalon beaches in southern New Jersey by the weekend. It wasn’t until one of my friends was diagnosed with skin cancer that I became fully aware of the dangers involved with sun exposure.
After learning all of the risks of basking in the sun, I became an advocate for sunless tanning. Combining both passions, I teamed up with my best friend, Susie Celek, to open Skin Palette. Both Susie and I are very passionate about our mission and we hope to show tanning enthusiasts that even without the UV rays there's a way to look and feel great with a glow!
When you shifted industries from finance to beauty was it difficult?
As I made the transition, I initially felt a bit overwhelmed. I loved working in finance so, to be honest, it was nerve-racking for me to make a huge career change. I was afraid I might not love the new industry as much as the other. But once Skin Palette was under way, I realized I'd never need to sacrifice my love of finance, because so much of what I've learned paved the way for the behind-the-scenes operations of starting my own business. Additionally, what I loved most about finance is the same exact thing I love in the beauty industry: the client interaction. Even though the transition between the industries seems immense, for me, the mindset of the two were the exact same.
I think many people tend to think of LA, Miami and New York when debuting a skincare/health business. You're from Philly and your husband plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, so was it a natural decision to start your business in this city?
Yes, Philly was our ideal location to start the business. We've tried self-tanners and spray tans in the past that had left us streaky and orange, so we searched the country to bring the top of the line airbrush equipment and solution to Philadelphia. Also, many places that offer airbrush tanning offer UV beds, too. We realized the need to create a spot in the city where people who have had skin cancer themselves or know someone who has felt comfortable supporting the business. As a result, we were awarded Philadelphia magazine's "Best of Philly 2012" accolade and we feel extremely proud of this honor.
What does your typical job schedule and day look like?
Being an entrepreneur, my schedule has no set hours. At times, Susie and I work around the clock. We very rarely take a day off. Even if we're not in the salon, we're constantly working on something pertaining to Skin Palette.
Has there been a moment where you’ve thought, “I made it!”?
Never! Professionally, I always aspire for more.
What are some of the rules you live by?
The rule I live by is "Work hard, play hard." There's a need for balance in life. As hard as I work, I know how to live in the moment and enjoy time with family and friends. I believe this to be the key to success in life.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your field?
I believe one of the qualities most needed to be successful is to stay true to yourself and the reason you entered the business. I'm an advocate for sunless tanning because I've seen the dangers of sun exposure firsthand. Our clients are skin cancer survivors and we're pleased to provide them a healthy alternative to achieve a bronzed glow.
Although UV tanning beds are lucrative for many tanning salons, the Skin Palette team is passionate about raising awareness of their dangers. Consumer cognizance of the harmful effects of UV exposure and the prevalence of skin cancer has led to rapid emergence of sunless tanning -- and we're proud to be leaders in the industry.
How does your friendship and working relationship with Susie affect the strength of the business?
There's no doubt that the most important component to Skin Palette's success is the relationship between Susie and I. We have an identical work ethic, the same motivation to achieve and matching minds to persevere. At the same time, we complement each other perfectly: we both dream big. When a setback comes our way, we share the motto that we can laugh about it at the end of the day. We believe there are no challenges too big for the both of us.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Five years from now, I'll be continuing to expand the Skin Palette brand. We have exciting projects on the horizon; right now they're a secret. Stay tuned!
What would you tell someone who is looking to make their own career change?
The advice I would give any woman looking to make a career change would be to find your passion in life and turn that into your job. Strive to create a career for yourself where you jump out of bed in the morning excited to get to work. As many hours as I put in to Skin Palette, it never feels like work because I love what I do so much!
-Interview by Kathleen Garvin