Susie Celek



University of Cincinnati - Communication

Part 2 of 2: Read about Susie's co-owner, Julie Dorenbos, who was featured yesterday on I Want Her Job.

After years of being exposed to spray tanning through promotional brand management and her own biopsy, Susie Celek knew she wanted to pursue a career in the sunless tanning realm. She received training and education in esthetics from Aveda Institutes and, working alongside best friend and business partner Julie Dorenbos, opened the doors to Skin Palette in 2011.

In college, Susie was an All-American swimmer and captain of the University of Cincinnati women’s crew team. She graduated with a degree in communications and worked for TEAM Enterprises. While managing one particularly ripped female promo model, Susie was exposed to another field she fell in love with: boxing. In addition to growing Skin Palette, she looks forward to coaching and training and someday opening her own gym for underserved girls.

Susie, along with Julie, can often be found on local media discussing the business and Philly sports. She looks forward to growing the company with her best friend and business partner and sharing “the benefits of Skin Palette in other locations” soon.

Dream big and play out your operation in your mind often. You'll see good days unfold through mental preparation.

How did you get into the sunless tanning industry?

As the brand manager for TEAM Enterprises, I carried the MillerCoors portfolio and was responsible for local programming and account development. Promotional activity was my favorite part of my job -- I was always so proud to recap events with pictures of my gorgeous, tan promotional models. And as a makeup artist through college, I delighted in helping my promo models get ready for shows. Part of the prep was delivering a spray tan to each girl. It amazed me how much better the pictures turned out when my girls were tan!

What impressed me even more was how good I felt when I would airbrush myself. Not only did the confidence make me feel good, but it was more time efficient than UV tanning or laying on a beach.

On the Skin Palette website you mention your own biopsy. Did that immediately put you on the path to sunless tanning?

My biopsy was confirmation that I was doing the right thing by sunless tanning. But truthfully, I’ve had a strange passion for sunless tanning since it was orange and smelled AWFUL! I love being on the other end now where I get to work with our suppliers and chemists on perfecting the craft.

How did boxing come about and fit into the mix? Is it something you'd like to continue exploring?

Overseeing the promotional activation for Miller Lite, I was fortunate to enjoy many of my strategically planned events, such as NASCAR races, Eagles games and bikini tours. Ironically, I got started in boxing when I caught a glimpse of one of my model's shredded arms! I asked her, "Are you a personal trainer?" She replied, "No, I’m a boxer." It didn’t make sense to me that this gorgeous girl was the reigning PA Golden Gloves Champion. I asked her to let me see her fight sometime.

Long story short, I was instantly hooked. I began training in South Philly at Joe Hand Gym with Wade Hinnant, later trained with Cliff Johnson from The Sporting Club at The Bellevue and ended a short amateur career with Joey DeMalavez.

I'll absolutely continue in my pursuit of boxing. Even though I only have two fights down and my competitive days for fighting have probably come to an end, my future involvement in boxing is actually very exciting. I'll begin coaching and training under the strong direction of Tre Thomas (@7Dueces) and Joey DeMalavez (@JoltnJabs) this summer. The ultimate intention is to open my own gym, designed to enhance the quality of life for underprivileged girls and teens.

For your days at Skin Palette, what is your typical schedule like?

Hours of operation are on our website, but those have nothing to do with work. Julie, our staff and I love the art of airbrushing, interacting with our clients and, of course, seeing them leave our salon with a glow and a smile. But after hours -- and I’m not talking about the cool “after hours,” the long ones -- that’s when we drive our business forward.

Has there been a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!”?

Yes. The hard part about making it is once you've made it, you have to set new goals for yourself.

What challenges keep you awake at night?

My to-do list. It never seems to be crossed off.

Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?

Success in life is two-fold. You have to wake up happy with who you are. You also have to be able to lay your head down at night and not wrestle with decisions that have been made. Rather, seek out the most strategic way to approach challenges and situations and go through them with courage. I admit that every day is not that easy. I find a lot of peace or time to regroup by taking my pup, Bruiser, out for runs in the park.

What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in this industry?

Hard work is at the core of most entrepreneurs, but in the sunless industry, it’s important to know the full scope of business and to make wise choices about the technology and products you offer. Julie and I have prided ourselves on staying ahead of the trends, and because of our passion for sunless, we're excited for the coming year as our innovation line in solution will be launching.

Male clientele and athletes are mentioned on the site. How often do guys come by?

We get a lot guys. Timid for the most part, they usually come in with their girlfriends the first time. But after that, we see them regularly. Instead of the “walk of shame” in, they start walking taller and leave self-assured on the way out. It's clutch -- confidence is for women and men! DAYSPA magazine is featuring an issue on the "kept man” with more men taking a walk on the wild side; scheduling that back wax or ever-fabulous Skin Palette Airbrush Tan.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Five years from now, I'll be continuing to expand the Skin Palette brand with my business partner and best friend. We've been fortunate to call the Rittenhouse neighborhood in Philadelphia home, but through a few partnerships, look to share the benefits of Skin Palette in other locations.

What advice do you have for women who aspire to walk in your shoes?

Ask as many questions as you can. Dream big and play out your operation in your mind often. You'll see good days unfold through mental preparation and a constant pursuit to see the perfect day playing out.

Also, if you do what you love, you don't really go to work. You show up at a place where you can display your talents, bring positive energy and look to grow the environment each day.

-Interview by Kathleen Garvin