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5 minutes with… Cocoa Brown’s Marissa Carter: ‘Chrissy Teigen is the dream customer’

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16th Jul 2020
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As Cocoa Brown launches a slick redesign, we catch up with its CEO and founder Marissa Carter to find out how she’s pivoted the business through a global pandemic. 

What lessons have you learned in lockdown?

I’ve learned that a strong online community is key. Our online community has been so supportive and we’ve really seen an acceleration in uptake of our online offering. The ‘pandemic pivot’, as experts are calling it, has been great for boosting the community spirit among Cocoa Brown customers and supporters and in turn has had a positive effect on online sales.

How have you adapted the Cocoa Brown business model in lockdown?

The focus has pivoted from a largely in-store based model to almost 100% online. As a brand, we’ve upskilled, learning more about digital and social media marketing. The pandemic has shown that everyone on the team needs to be somewhat tech-savvy, as that is the space our customers are inhabiting.

Cocoa Brown revealed the new black, pink and white bottles last week. Photo: Cocoa Brown

Last week Cocoa Brown revealed its new bottle designs. Why was now the right time?

The brand is now eight-years-old and loved worldwide. Now that we’ve established ourselves as a leading tanning brand we felt it was time to test the waters with an injection of newness.

The self-tan industry is competitive. What is the key to staying top of your game?

The most important part of our business strategy is the customer. Once you offer the customer quality, innovation and excellent customer service, the rest follows.

Niamh Cullen models the new latest self-tan from Cocoa Brown. Photo: Evan Doherty

How have you mastered catering for the Irish audience, which has a very particular skin type?

In my opinion you should create what you know. Before Cocoa Brown I owned Blackrock-based salon Carter Beauty. I had a direct line to the Irish consumer. I took what I learned, and created a line specific to the Irish market. As we’ve expanded to more territories, so too has our product offering, catering to all skin tones.

We’re getting some unprecedented sun in Ireland. Should we take a different approach to self-tanning during the warmer months compared to winter months?

Naturally Irish ladies and gents tan less of their body in winter as there is less on show. Of course, in some of our other markets this differs – in Scandinavia our customers tan year round. The principles of tanning are the same year round, whether you’re doing your full body or just your ankles and arms.

Marissa Carter, CEO and founder of Cocoa Brown. Photo: Supplied

What are your top three tanning tips that everyone must follow for a perfectly even tan, no matter what their skin type?

Preparation is key when applying tan. Remove all previous tan using a tan eraser, such as Fresh Start. Exfoliate to create an even base using a granular exfoliator, such as Tough Stuff, and you should be good to go. It sounds basic, but using a mitt is key – a sock won’t cut it unfortunately!

The trickiest part of applying tan is trying to get rid of the previous layer. How do we do this effectively?

I may be bias, but our Fresh Start Tan Eraser is a miracle product. Pop it on, leave it for five minutes and rinse your tan down the drain ready for the next application.

Cocoa Brown’s ‘miracle product’, the Fresh Start Self-tan Eraser. Photo: Cocoa Brown

You’ve had plenty of celeb endorsements since Cocoa Brown launched in 2012. Who is your dream Cocoa Brown customer?

Chrissy Teigen would be the dream. Not only is she gorgeous but she’s also gas and massively relatable. I’d love to see her in Cocoa Brown.

As one of Ireland’s top businesswomen, what’s the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?

I always make myself a cup of tea in the morning and take five minutes to myself. I also make my bed every morning, there’s something to be said for starting and ending your day with a freshly made bed.


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this is my new way of life . . . @kristinestuddmakeup @hairinel @priscillavalles @traceycunningham1

A post shared by chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) on

What keeps you motivated?

I’m motivated by the creative side of my job. I really enjoy working on new product development and creating something new and exciting.

We’ve navigated four months of Covid-19 now. What does the new normal look like to you?

The new normal is more direct to consumer focused , which has meant lots of up-skilling among the team to become even more customer oriented than we already are.

After navigating the business through a global pandemic, what advice would you give to new entrepreneurs starting out on their journey?

I would say focus on building your mailing list and online community so that you can get straight to your customer base when needs be.

Read more on Cocoa Brown’s new sleek look here.

To buy any Cocoa Brown product, from self tan, to Fresh Start Tan Eraser, to mitts and much more, click here

Read more: Revealed: Cocoa Brown’s sleek new look just in time for summer

Read more: Chrissy Teigen has dropped her skincare routine

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