Innovation support gives Bronzie a healthy glow

The creator of a new clothing product for the health and beauty sector is targeting business growth after receiving free support from Boost Business Lancashire – the county’s £7.2m business growth hub delivered by Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

The Bronzie, a stylish ‘onesie’ to be worn to and from the salon when getting a fake tan, was launched earlier this year and recently created a buzz on social media after being worn by some of the stars of Strictly Come Dancing.

The product was the idea of salon owner Leanne LeGuen, from Ormskirk, who wanted to make spray tanning more accessible, while enabling customers to protect their clothing from stains from fake tanning products.

As well as running the Vanilla salon in Burscough, the former recruitment consultant has also founded Bronzie UK to be the company behind the garment, which is being sold directly to customers online and also to salons through the wholesale market.

Experts from the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Innovation Clinic, a programme available through Boost, advised Leanne on bringing the product to market, including defining the brand proposition, how to target potential customers and how to secure funding.

Leanne said: “I had the idea for Bronzie because there are a lot of people who want a spray tan as an alternative to using sunbeds, but they aren’t sure about the logistics of it – whether their tan will smudge and stain their clothes. The Bronzie is a simple solution to make safe tanning more accessible, yet it’s a fashionable and versatile product that people can relax in, sleep in and wear when getting ready for a night out. The quality of the garment is high - it’s not a wear-once and throw it away idea, but a product that can be worn again and again.”

The Bronzie uses a special fabric that glides over freshly spray-tanned skin leading to reduced tan lines. The fabric is also breathable which prevents staining of bedding and clothing.

Martin Jones, innovation manager for Boost Business Lancashire, said: “Leanne came to us with a clear idea of her product and the benefits it could offer. Our role was to assess the feasibility of the whole business strategy and how to strengthen the overall proposition.

“The key for Leanne was to create a brand that the product could develop from and ensuring the opportunity was not constrained to the tanning market but also had a place in the broader fashion world too. It was clear from the start that Bronzie, and all those supporting the project, had identified a distinct look and feel necessary in this market. You can see from the feedback Bronzie is getting from customers that Leanne has a potentially very successful business.”

Leanne added: “I found the support offered by Boost and UCLan invaluable because although I had a very good product idea, I didn’t know how I was going to bring it to market. Martin really got me to think about how we would make the product appealing to potential customers and the routes to those customers. In business it’s important to realise that you don’t always have all the answers and there are people who can help you.”

As well as receiving free business support through Boost Business Lancashire, Leanne was able to secure the maximum £25,000 EU start-up loan available through Hyndburn Enterprise Trust.

The company recently sent some its Bronzies to the BBC Strictly Come Dancing studios, with professional dancers Ola Jordan, Joanne Clifton, Janette Manrara, and contestants Alison Hammond and Sunetra Sarker, tweeting photos of them wearing their Bronzies. The UCLan Innovation Clinic offers support in engineering, innovation and business development to companies with high growth potential who want to strategically grow into new markets. This includes practical advice and support from people with relevant industry experience.