Sunday 17 December 2017

Insider Life: Marissa Carter, founder of Cocoa Brown

Marissa Carter
Marissa Carter

Marissa Carter is the entrepreneur, owner and founder behind Cocoa Brown.

"Having a two-year-old, I don't need an alarm! We usually have breakfast together before I leave for work. The first thing I do when I get into the office is make myself and the team a cup of tea. To take care of my skin, I take Medcoll supplements, always deep-cleanse and only use products that have the best ingredients in them. I don't wear make-up and tie my hair in a plait if I'm working in the office or relaxing at home. But if I'm going to a meeting or filming, I'll always have my Cocoa Brown tan, make-up and blow-dry done.

"I hate routine and feel very lucky to have a job where no day is the same. My time is split between developing new products and researching tanning trends, and creating and implementing marketing strategies for the brand. I do a lot of new business development which might involve presenting the brand to beauty buyers and then I film my 'Ask The Expert' for Xpose every Friday. It's incredible the amount of work that goes into creating three minutes of television. The girls and I share a love of dogs, which is great because Cherry, my bichon frisé, comes to work with me. We've filmed many a segment with her sitting on the girls' laps.

"Hard work creates opportunities. There aren't any magic formulas for success but yes, I had been self-employed for almost eight years, running my own beauty salon, before I launched Cocoa Brown and that business experience has been invaluable. I had a direct line to my customers who were able to tell me exactly what they like and dislike about fake tan.

"I listened to what my customers wanted and worked really hard to create products they love. I had dabbled in creating my own products but nothing on Cocoa Brown's scale. I began working on a fake tan formula which didn't need to develop overnight. Nine months later, I launched Cocoa Brown 1-Hour Tan on the Irish market. Its unique selling point is that it develops in as little as an hour.

"Cocoa Brown was the official tanning partner for the Pre-Oscars Luxury Suite in the Beverly Hilton Hotel where we tanned approximately 200 people over three days. I attended the Unite4Good Gala Dinner where Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker. Robert DeNiro, Eva Longoria and Philomena Lee were also there. The icing on the cake was attending Elton John's Oscar party and getting to meet him!

"I've had a lot of help from my husband, and my family have been great too. My son Charlie is the wildest, funniest and most independent little thing. In the early days of Cocoa Brown, I mostly worked from home which meant I didn't have to spend long periods of time away from him. Now I travel quite a bit with work, which means I miss him fiercely. I compensate for this by making sure that I never work weekends – they're reserved for time with my family.

"I sold Carter Beauty a few weeks ago to the woman who had been managing it for me. It's a bittersweet time for me at the moment. I will miss my staff and customers but I know they are in safe hands. Selling my salon has freed me up to focus my energies on growing Cocoa Brown internationally. This month it's launching in Primark stores across Europe. I'm currently in discussions with distributors in the US.

"I try to finish work as close to 5pm as I can so I can spend time with my son before he goes to bed. I run six or seven kilometres a couple of times a week to wind down. I find it really helps clear my head. My husband runs with me if we have someone to mind the little man. I used to find it hard to switch off after work but that has changed as I've gotten older and perhaps having a baby made me re-evaluate my priorities."

For more information on Cocoa Brown, log onto

First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent

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