Slate Organic is in the business of building confidence
When Mariana Aguilar opened her airbrush tanning studio, she brought a little piece of her native Sunshine State to Brookside.
Earlier this year, Mariana Aguilar expanded the size of her Slate Organic studio in Tulsa and opened a second location in Oklahoma City.
When Mariana Aguilar opened Slate Organic airbrush tanning studio three years ago, she brought a little piece of her native Sunshine State to Brookside.
In Miami, Florida, where Aguilar is from, suntans are everywhere. However, she says her Mexican-Irish heritage took her complexion from olive to lobster in no time flat. She had tried spray tans, but they always looked orange. That was, until she came across the product she now uses at Slate: an organic, brown sugar-based, spray-on solution.
Clients undress as much as they want in a private room, and a trained staffer sprays their body and face with solution. Then, they stand in front of a fan to dry. Their new color deepens in four to eight hours and lasts 7-10 days on average.
After airbrushing in Miami for a few years, Aguilar says her former business partner told her an airbrush tanning studio would be a hit in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he’d previously lived. Aguilar, however, had never set foot here. “I came to Tulsa and got spray tans at our competitors in town, and I realized he was right,” Aguilar recalls. “There wasn’t anything like this.”
A week at the Mayo Hotel was another market test: Aguilar offered free airbrush tanning appointments from a hotel room and was booked solid from morning till night.
So she hung her shingle at 3638 S. Peoria Ave., eventually bought out her business partner and moved to Tulsa full time. She has been basking in the glow of entrepreneurship ever since.
Before Aguilar started airbrush tanning, she was a high-end concierge — a personal assistant on call 24/7 — who worked with celebrities and NFL players. It was a challenging schedule for a single mother, plus “it was unsatisfying,” she recalls. “Business ownership is stressful, but in a different type of way.
“I wanted to be in an industry that would make people feel great about themselves. I was meant to be here.”