Breaking Into Beauty

Door closes. Breath. Bag on chair. Breath. Clothes on floor. Breath. Cool breeze on naked body. Breath. Sucking in of the stomach as you self-consciously look in the mirror. Breath. Quick look at the door, you thought you heard the technician coming. Breath. Step on the sticky feet and place hair in the cap. Then reluctantly stand in position. The door opens and the tanning technician leans for the spray gun. Before they look at you, you inevitably blurt out ‘I’m sorry for…’. Cellulite, butt fat, rolls, scars, in-grown hairs and blemishes. Jules Von Hep, founder of the tanning company Isle of Paradise and spray tanner for the stars, knows the personal inner taunting and the ‘sorry’ all too well, he has heard it all a thousand times before, inside and outside the tanning studio.

Jules Von Hep founded the tanning company Isle of Paradise with a strong ethos which promotes body positivity. Before creating his brand, he was successful as a freelancer and worked as the in-house tanning technician for X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing with the Stars and a slew of celebrities such as Sienna Miller, Lilly James and Kendall Jenner. During his career, he realised he was predominantly tanning models, and every person he worked with critiqued their bodies and were apologetic for their perceived imperfections. Jules was disheartened to be in an industry that lied to consumers, through reality altering mechanisms such as photoshop, and was inspired to create a product that did what it said it would. He was determined to spread body positivity and inclusivity by ensuring that his customers could see themselves reflected in his advertising.

Jules did not always glow with the self confidence that his self tanning products and advertising campaigns promote. He battled with body issues from a young age, and said in a Shameless In Conversation Podcast ‘I would look in the mirror and loathe what I saw. Grabbing at my thighs and my wobbly bits’. When he was working in the fashion industry he felt he needed to be a certain body shape to get hired. On a Calvin Klein shoot he witnessed a model being asked to go and throw up in the bathroom before she came out for the shoot. Jules followed her and encouraged her not to do it. During this time, Jules was suicidal, anorexic and was self harming. He has also endured homophobic attacks including an incident where he was spat on and punched in a night club. Jules drew on his personal experience struggling with body issues as a driving force to create a beauty brand with a different ethos ‘I’m not swimming the same way as the other fish.’ Jules created a product and a brand that was not aimed at making consumers ‘really hot’ or a ‘superficial fake version of themselves’. His products are about enhancing what his clients already have to build their confidence.

When he created Isle of Paradise, body positivity, inclusivity and diversity were not yet at the forefront of the beauty industry. In his campaigns he refused to have the classic tanning shoot for his products, size 4 models laying on the beach. Scrolling through his Instagram you will see models that have no touch ups, no photoshop. Just natural bodies with wrinkles, blemishes and cellulite, people with varying abilities, different body shapes and ethnicities. Jules was at the forefront of the body positivity movement that has shaped and changed the course of the way we see the fashion and beauty industry today – it got a serious glow up with the help of Jules Von Hep.

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