DARIEN — What Darien’s Laurie Tuck wanted was a quick spray tan before going on a vacation to St. Thomas with her husband. What she got was a mess.
“I thought I could make it work,” she said of her spur-of-the-moment decision to get the treatment back in September 2015. “It got all over the place. Everything was sticking to me.”
Part of Tuck’s problem was she went into the salon without the proper clothing one should wear after a spray tan. She began daydreaming of a design salons could sell at the counter and offer to customers, so they could wear something that wouldn’t stick to the spray tan formula as it dried.
Tuck found herself sketching her ideas on the napkins on the plane, so after her trip, she pulled out her daughter’s sewing machine and began searching the internet for a soft material that was sewable but wouldn’t absorb the spray tan formula. She came up with an easily sewable three-piece dress pattern made out of polypropylene (similar to the material used for reusable canvas bags). Tuck took her design back to the Benefit Boutique & BrowBar in New Canaan where she got her original tan and an employee there gave the dress the seal of approval.
It was this sort of reaction that made Tuck stick with her line, growing it into her own company, Wear and Away.
“This product solves a problem post-spray tan,” she said.
In June 2016, Tuck began calling herself a company. She got an LLC trademark for Wear and Away and found a factory in Bridgeport to make the dresses. She also learned how to build a website with good photos and take out a patent on her dress.
Tuck’s line has now expanded to include dresses in several styles and colors, as well as other tan-proof products, like a line of temporary sheets. The clothing is made out of recyclable material and each piece can be used more than six times and can be worn for several hours.
“I feel strongly we all have tons of clothing,” she said. “You can buy something from H&M (for a spray tan) for 10 bucks, but it’ll end in a landfill. People are becoming more and more aware that throwing away clothing is a problem.”
The products range from $10 for a jacket to $20 for draw-string pants.
As a former marketing rep with IBM, Tuck had experience with some aspects of creating her own business. She also used to work in landscape design and has a master gardener degree. This, along with raising three children, equipped her with some of the skills she needed to launch her own company.
“I’m a trained salesperson,” she said. “So it’s logical and process-driven. With gardening, I had to invoice and budget. That taught me about structuring a business. And you learn to juggle with three kids. It’s something I thought I’d do, but I had the skills my whole life. It’s challenging. Every step of the way, I have to learn something new.”
Right now, Tuck’s products are sold online to individuals, as well as retailers both local and around the country. She goes to fitness industry trade shows to market her products. Her children have also helped her with the social media aspect when it comes to marketing.
“One of the challenges is awareness of brand,” she said. “It’s critical to getting people to know it’s there.”
Tuck has hired people to help with social media, as well as public relations. She also has the dresses sewn by a woman in Bridgeport.
But other than that, her company is a one-woman show, carried with the support of her family and mentors. In addition to receiving guidance and prototypes from the Bridgeport factory owner who helps make her products, Tuck took classes at the Women’s Business Development Council in Stamford where she learned marketing, legal matters and business planning.
“It makes you pitch your idea over and over, so you have to prove yourself,” Tuck said.
Tuck also passes along work to female veterans at Homes for the Brave in Bridgeport, a cause near to her heart after her late father, a veteran himself, donated all his clothes to them after he passed away in 2007.
“It’s an organization near and dear to my heart,” she said. “It’s a population that needs our help.”