Valerie Hopkins believes any woman can succeed in business, regardless of her circumstances. She should know. Eighteen months ago, Hopkins left a harmful marriage with only her two young children and the clothes on her back. “I wasn’t even wearing shoes that day,” she says.
For years she had been spray tanning friends and burying the money they paid her in her backyard so it wouldn’t be taken away.
“It took seven years to get the guts to leave and all I had was my tanning skills. My son said, ‘Mom, you gotta have skills to pay the bills!’”
After settling with her kids in an apartment, she upgraded her products and watched YouTube videos on how to start a tanning business. Her clientele grew. “My ‘salon’ was actually my bedroom that I turned into a tanning salon during the day. Clients came for a tan and ‘therapy,’ We’d talk and catch up. I was exhausted from trying to heal, trying to help my kids heal and still make money. Sometimes I wanted to throw in the towel.”
Instead she wrote down her goals. “I wanted to provide nicer things for my kids, get a car, see my family in Connecticut." Those dreams are slowly happening. “I never thought I’d be this lucky,” she says. “I made it because of the people who supported me. Now I’m able to give back.”
Hopkins donates to organizations that help women move out of bad situations. “The more I give, the more I get back. It’s insane!
I would never want to go through that period again,” she says, “but I know I was meant to go through it for a higher purpose.”
Her business, Wanderlust Spray Tans, shares space with J&J Beauty Company in Spring Hill. She uses alcohol-free products that won’t dry the skin, and she provides scent drops and powders. She also offers clear solutions that don’t stain clothes, perfect for brides. Mobile tanning is available by appointment.
“Women need to know they can get through tough times and be successful, as long as they surround themselves with good people. I’m here to help.” WanderlustSprayTans.com