We had the good fortune of connecting with Leslie Epstein and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Leslie, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I knew at a young age, entrepreneurship was something I was very passionate about. My grandfather ran his own automotive shop for decades following in his father’s footsteps. My grandmother ran her own daycare for years and was one extremely strong businesswoman. My brother was involved in numerous business adventures he created from the ground up at a very young age. I saw Entrepreneurship ran in my blood and I was surrounded by it daily. Seeing hardworking, creative individuals, really paved my path. I knew being my own boss and creating my own destiny was something I saw growing up and watching family members accomplish, it was just a move I knew I wanted to take. At 19, I got skin cancer, and from that moment my business model developed. Not only did I personally have a passion for entrepreneurship, but now I had a drive like no other to share my story. Your Tanning Bar was developed sitting in a business class at the University of Iowa, at the young age of 2o.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets our business model apart from others is we offer one service and one service only. We promote the only healthy way to tan and educate our clients on the dangers of UV rays and tanning beds. This industry 15 years ago was something, especially in the Midwest, that was very unique and almost unheard of. Fast forward to now, we’re in a generation that believes in getting out of tanning beds and wearing SPF. I found a niche that I knew was early in the industry but I was willing to put in my all until the industry caught up with me. To say this was easy is an understatement. Starting so young, having zero dollars to my name, in an industry that was 10 years before its time, was far from easy. I had the drive and the passion that made me stick to it. There was numerous times, most people would have quit, but that was never an option for me or a consideration. I worked my salon open to close, often 70-80 hours a week by myself for years. I knew what it took and now 10 years later, it has paid off.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am a huge fan of water. You may wonder why I live in Iowa, but I would take my friends to the lake. Grab our Jeep, grab our golden retriever (Gracie) and kayaks. The perfect day to me is enjoying nature being on the water in my kayak is my zen time. We would more than likely head to Lake Macbride. I am also a foodie. We would have to stop at a local dive bar and experience an Iowa tenderloin! There’s nothing like it. If you come to Iowa you have to have one! Usually the tenderloins are so big here, the tenderloin is the size of your entire plate and the bun looks itty bitty. I would make sure we stopped at some of my favorite local breweries and eateries. Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area has some of the best local chefs and creators. I won’t step foot into a franchise here! Our local restaurants, many of which are truly farm to table, have some of the best creations. If you have never had an Iowa steak before you are missing out. We have some fabulous breweries like Big Grove that offer a huge outdoor entertaining scene at night followed by live music at Cedar Ridge Winery. Our ventures would take us to the PedMall in Iowa City. A staple for anyone in the area or that graduated from University of Iowa. Its an area on the University campus where We rank top 10 best party school for a reason! The pedmall consists of a few blocks of 50+ local restaurants, bars, boutiques, niche retail, and theaters. You will see artists painting the streets, jazz musicians playing their hearts out, a farmers market, you name it! The Pedmall is a staple in this area of fun and entertainment and there’s always something going on.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband has been my rock since day 1. He remembers the day I was sitting in our bed with my laptop in college writing my business plan. I was surrounded by hundreds of sticky notes. I looked at him that day and said I am starting a business. Mind you I was 20, he was 24 and just fresh out of college. Neither of us had money or a clue what our next step was. He never batted an eye.

Encouraged me every single step of the way. 15 years later, he’s still my rock, my number one supporter, my motivation. He pushes me in a way like no one else. He’s witnessed many hard decisions I have had to make, a shutdown through a pandemic, numerous tears, celebrations, opening of new locations, and now this year a complete rebuild. I owe so much of my success to my wing man and partner, Aaron Epstein.

Website: www.yourtanningbar.com

Instagram: @yourtanningbar_Iowa

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/exclusiveairbrushtanning

Image Credits
Photos By Shantel Phipps Photography

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.