A business idea was born when a Dunedin panelbeater saw a group of "orange ladies" on a night out in the city.

The moment for Carmen Copland in the Octagon about four years ago left her puzzled, spurring a barrage of questions to friends, revealing the process of a spray tan and how a poor job could result in an orange client, reported The Otago Daily Times.

"I saw a gap in the market and I thought with my car ­painting background I could fill it."

Miss Copland finished an apprenticeship as a panelbeater in 1995, learning how to prime, mask and paint vehicles.


After her epiphany, she bought a spray tanning kit and invited her friends to free bronzing.

"That's how I got my business name Primed — I went right back to my trade. The first year there was a few balls-ups but I perfected it."

During the trial and error phase, she discovered a New Zealand-made organic tanning product, which looked "natural" on the skin, no matter how long the client kept it on before washing it off.

She learned to apply the product in five minutes and word spread quickly about her work.

"I haven't looked back."

Being naked to be spray­tanned was a "daunting" experience for many people but nervous clients soon relaxed when they discovered they were being sprayed by a panelbeater rather than a beautician.

The difference between spraying a car and a person was a car would always be primed perfectly before it was painted. A person's body needed to be primed with at least a week of exfoliation and moisturising before being ready to spray, Miss Copland said.

"If they're not prepped properly it sticks to dry areas."


The busiest time of the year was between November and March with "work dos, balls, formals and weddings".

"Brides want to be natural. They don't want to be as white as their dress but they don't want to be an oompa loompa."

She sprayed three bridal parties last week, including a grandmother of the bride.

Most of her clients were women but about 10 of her clients each year were men.

Most of the men were "dragged in" by their wives, who did not want to be seen next to a pasty white guy on a holiday abroad.

She had no plan to add waxing.

"I don't want to touch people, I just want to paint them."