Probation Officer Turned Beauty Exec Empowers Women to Glow and Grow

goGLOW Chief Executive Officer Melanie Richards learned the lessons of resilience, tenacity and hard work at an early age. Raised by a single mother in the northern Minnesota town of Esko, Richards watched her teenage mom of two persevere, from welfare checks and food stamps to college graduation and business ownership. “She didn’t skip a beat,” Richards says of her mother. “I feel so blessed to have witnessed her growth and success.”

Early in her career, Richards served as a Hennepin County probation officer and part of its Crisis Response Team. For more than a decade, she worked tirelessly to change how the criminal justice system treated victims of domestic violence. Passionate and dedicated to making a difference, Richards helped countless women get back on their feet and find the confidence to reclaim their lives. 

“Sometimes life is hard, and a simple beauty treatment can help make things a little easier.” Melanie Richards, CEO of goGLOW

Inspired by the transformation she saw in the women she served, she decided to pivot to beauty, another industry where women’s empowerment is realized. Continuing her criminal justice work during the day, Richards set aside nights and weekends to study skincare and entrepreneurship at the Aveda Institute. While she was unsure of her exact path forward, she remained committed to empowering women and helping them feel good about themselves. 

A Lightbulb Moment

As she prepared for her graduation celebration, Richards wanted to walk the stage looking sun-kissed without any actual exposure to the sun. “In those days, the only sunless tanning option was to get hosed down with a toxic, fake-looking spray. It was like a human car wash,” she laughs while bemoaning the familiar orange hue of past spray tans. Eventually, Richards found a makeup artist to airbrush a tan on her entire body. She loved the way it looked but didn’t like the price tag.

She searched high and low for a cost-effective, healthier alternative, only to realize that such a service didn’t exist. “I was determined to discover, or in this case, invent a better solution,” she says. Richards experimented with plant-based materials, creating a spray formulation that swapped chemicals for natural, plant-based ingredients. Then, she developed a unique spraying technique that created the flawless tan she had been seeking.

After months of testing her product on friends and family, word of her enhanced spray tan began to spread. To meet the growing demand for her service, she built a mobile salon and named it goGLOW.

Since then, goGLOW has continued to elevate the sunless spray tan to a professional skin care treatment. Through oxidation, Richards’ proprietary formulation provides a natural-looking tan without the hazardous chemicals.

An Empowering Opportunity

With a loyal clientele and glowing reviews (including the coveted Allure Magazine Best of Beauty award), the business has grown to include four salons, three in Minneapolis and one in Chicago. Now, Richards is determined to bring her confidence-building treatment to people across the country.

By offering franchising opportunities with a low barrier to entry and a good return on investment, she hopes to inspire people to join her movement of instilling confidence in others through beauty. “Sometimes life is hard, and a simple beauty treatment can help make things a little easier,” she says.

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