Wednesday 22 November 2017

Golden girl takes her brand to the stars

Fake tan entrepreneur Marissa Carter has snagged herself a hugely sought-after Oscars deal

Bronze age: Marissa Carter. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Bronze age: Marissa Carter. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Jennifer Aniston
Reese Witherspoon
Joyce Fegan

Joyce Fegan

IRISH business dynamo Marissa Carter has been hired to top up the tans of Hollywood A-listers like Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon at this year's Oscars.

"I'm just so excited, I can't contain myself," a delighted Marissa told the Sunday Independent as she prepares to take her multi-million euro fake tan brand Cocoa Brown to LA in March.

All Oscar nominees used to receive gift bags filled with expensive goodies, but now they attend a pampering penthouse in the Beverly Hilton, the TMG Pre-Oscar Luxury Gifting Suite where their every need is tended to for the three days running up to the awards ceremony. This is where Marissa and her Cocoa Brown tan will set up, and she's been warned to expect 200-plus guests. Only ticket-holders can gain access to the Beverly Hills hotel. The Golden Globes are held there every year.

The highly sought-after slots cannot be bought, begged for or borrowed -- it's on an invite-only basis. Marissa, whose company turned one in November, sells three bottles of tan a minute and her product is stocked in thousands of stores and pharmacies in Ireland, the UK. She has also just landed a contract with Aer Lingus.

Her product was discovered in Dublin airport by an American tourist heading home who was attracted by the pink packaging, explains the businesswoman. The organiser of the gifting suite was in the tourist's home when she saw the bottle of Cocoa Brown tan. She asked to try it -- and she fell in love with it.

Marissa, 30, began getting emails about coming to the Oscars as the exclusive tanning provider, and after the third email, having assumed at first the mails were spam, she finally responded. Organisers of the gifting suite confirmed to the Sunday Independent that Cocoa Brown is the first Irish brand to attend the exclusive three-day event.

For the busy wife and mum of one, 2013 has been a whirlwind year. Having only launched her tan in November 2012 to having a turnover of several million is a dream come true for the Irish beautician. "I feel like Dorothy and I'll wake up from it," she says.

With a staff of only four, Marissa doesn't plan on slowing down for 2014. "We're going to make a mark in the US," the Dublin native told the Sunday Independent.

The fake tan business in the US is about to explode, as "Americans are becoming aware of the ageing effects of the sun", Marissa says.

She is also on the cusp of signing several distribution deals in America, having met buyers and Enterprise Ireland in New York last month. "From the very get-go I have not let anything come in the way of securing big deals," the award-winning business woman adds.

On November 26, a year to the day that Cocoa Brown went into pharmacies in Ireland, she won Image magazine's Start-Up of the Year. This, she says, was the "highlight" of her rollercoaster year.

A spokesperson from TMG said that they are the longest-running gifting suite and are so big that the company "takes the entire penthouse floor of the Beverly Hilton". They have had Hollywood heavyweights Madonna, Sean Penn and Al Pacino through their doors and are "delighted" to be working with Marissa, the "only Irish brand on board".

With the awards taking place on March 1, the nominations will be announced three weeks beforehand -- and Irish talent has already been tipped for the running.

Michael Fassbender starred in 12 Years a Slave, and the film is thought to be a "shoo-in" by critics, for numerous nods if not a gong. Philomena --which won rave reviews --is also tipped for some awards, as is Saving Mr Banks with Colin Farrell.

Irish Independent

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