Located at 802 Dickinson Avenue, Souther Soleil is Greenville’s first sunless tanning studio, and the first of its kind in eastern North Carolina.
The tanning salon is owned and operated by Ellen Sheffer, a resident of Greenville since 2007 and East Carolina University class of 2013 graduate.
“Southern Soleil is a luxury spray tanning salon and it is the first sunless tanning salon in Eastern North Carolina. There are no UV (ultraviolet) tanning beds whatsoever,” Sheffer said.
Sheffer said she got her start learning how to spray tan at Merle Norman Spa off Arlington Boulevard, where she was an attendant. She additionally worked at ECU’s Crisis Center after graduating in 2013, where she found her passion for talking to people and helping them.
Sheffer said she moved to now-closed, Penache Spa, where she worked for three years. She did spray tanning on the side and worked to build her clientele around Greenville and the city’s surrounding areas. Sheffer then sought after her spray tanning certification and is now a professional.
“It’s transitioned from this little mobile company to having a storefront on Dickinson Avenue, being the very first sunless only salon in Eastern North Carolina,” Sheffer said.
Sheffer said she got the idea for the name from the French word for sun, “soleil.” She wanted the name to have the word “southern” in it to set it apart from the other tanning studios in the area, as many of them have a “West Coast vibe.”
Currently, Sheffer offers handheld full body spray tanning and body contouring at Southern Soleil, and she said her salon will offer teeth whitening services starting this upcoming fall.
“The price for spray tanning ranges from $55 to $75 and body contouring is a $25 add on. Teeth whitening prices will range from $99 to $200 depending on how many sessions are purchased,” Sheffer said.
Sheffer said she can also travel to her clients who may not be able to come into her salon or who don’t live in Greenville. She offers a mobile spray tanning price of $120.
Sheffer said one of the goals she wants to achieve is to eliminate the bad stigma connected to spray tanning. She wants people to become aware of the dangers of UV tanning, which is especially popular in Greenville and neighboring areas.
“There is such a bad stigma connected with spray tanning. Spray tanning started in the 1920s and has evolved so much. Even in the past two years, they have come out with better ingredients that won’t turn people orange,” Sheffer said.
Sheffer said her clientele is usually around the 25 to 45-year-old age group. Her clients tend to be college graduates and young professionals who used to tan in UV beds that have realized the dangers of UV tanning and wanted to switch.
Along with the young professional age group, Sheffer hopes to attract a younger demographic as well such as 18 to 23-year-olds who are current students at East Carolina University.
“I am looking forward to having my salon grow and to impact and educate our community more because we have so many young adults in Greenville and the surrounding areas,” Sheffer said. “There is such a lack of education on UV tanning beds.”
Sheffer said she makes sure each of her clients has a good experience in her salon. She said she will color match and color blend precisely to ensure her clients have “the best spray tan service they can receive.”
Sheffer said she enjoys interacting, helping her clients and providing them with a service they can trust.
“My clients are people, and that’s what they’re going to get treated like. This is a luxury service and I am going to take my time with you. You won’t experience the type of spray tan that you’ll get from me anywhere else. It’s always in a judgment-free zone,” Sheffer said.
Lili McKeithan, a senior fashion merchandising major, said she enjoys tanning and “tans all the time, especially during the winter.”
McKeithan said that she has tried both UV and sunless tanning and sunless tanning is her favorite, as she likes how it is easy to adjust and fix it. She said she would be willing to visit Southern Soleil.
“I love tanning because it just makes me feel better in general. I can get up in the mornings and not worry about wearing makeup or doing anything to my face. Sunless tanning is my favorite. I’d definitely be interested to try something new,” McKeithan said.
Morgan Brown, a junior communication major said she has been tanning for two months now. She said she enjoys the results when she tans and has tried both sunless and UV tanning options.
Brown had not heard of Southern Soleil but would be interested in trying it, as she enjoys sunless tanning.
“I like that I feel like I’m on an island and I like to be dark. I’ve tried multiple types of sunless tanning and I love it,” Brown said.
Madison Morris, a senior neuroscience major, said she used to tan in tanning beds weekly and enjoyed how dark she would get, how she wouldn’t get a patchy color and how natural it looked.
Morris hasn’t tried sunless tanning as much as UV tanning but said she would be willing to visit Southern Soleil and try their spray tanning.
“I used to tan in tanning beds like two times a week for 10 minutes each time,” Morris said. “I get tan fast and it looks more natural than spray tans and I feel like it lasts longer. The only sunless tanning I’ve done is a couple (of) spray tans and some self-tanners, but Southern Soleil sounds fun.”