Profiles

A Tribute to Nail Pioneer Debbie Doerrlamm

Creator of the nail industry's first online forum BeautyTech, Debbie Doerrlamm inspired many through her innovative community of nail lovers. 

From left to right, Debbie, Diana Bonn, Mindy Borrego, Allyson Bon, and Maureen Depeter, who couldn't be there so Debbie photoshopped her in.
<p>From left to right, Debbie, Diana Bonn, Mindy Borrego, Allyson Bon, and Maureen Depeter, who couldn't be there so Debbie photoshopped her in.</p>

I probably met Deb sometime in the late 1980's or early 1990's when I read an article about this new-fangled AOL weekly nail chat and nails mailing list and promptly joined in.  I suspect that I reached out to her for some reason and we "connected."   We quickly discovered that we didn't live all that far away from each other; we were both married and were raising a son. Even our fathers were airplane aficionados. A sisterhood was born. 

We soon began meeting up at trade shows, often sharing a hotel room. Once, at the Chicago show quite a few years ago, she was feeling a bit under the weather but we brat pack gals decided that we needed to celebrate her birthday.  ("Members" included Darlene Ray, Lynn Weber, Tanis Payne, Rhonda Kibuk and a few others). We decorated our hotel room, donned party hats, and called Deb to our room.  She told us emphatically that she wouldn't come because she wasn't feeling well and, so we told her we needed her computer expertise, and she ultimately came to our "rescue."  We all laughed hysterically at our tacky decorations (toilet paper had been substituted for crepe paper ribbon, for example), but we all managed to have a good time, complete with birthday cake and drunken, off-key singing.  We never understood how we weren't kicked out of the hotel. 

Aside from a few crazy instances, Deb and I (and frequently Vicki Peters) were pretty low key.  Most techs who met Deb were often pleasantly surprised to discover that she was such a down-to-earth person.  As her frequent roommate at various nail functions, I was privy to how hard she worked to make the internet the invaluable resource it is to the nail industry.  Of course, her organization and execution of the Premiere Beauty Show networking event was extraordinary.

Deb's love for the industry, as well as her dedication and passion to making Beautytech an outstanding nail industry resource on the internet, is an incredible legacy.  While I will always be in awe of what Debbie has contributed to an industry I love, the memory I will always carry is one of an irreplaceable friend. 

- Mindy Borrego

The first time I actually met Debbie was at the Nailtech Breakfast in Orlando. She was across the room and in her deep New York accent, across the room, she loudly said, “Diana from Indiana!!” We hugged for the first time, and a 20 year friendship started. We were sisters in our hearts.

Deb made the most beautiful quilts. On Dave's casket, there weren’t flowers, but rather, the orange and black Harley Davidson quilt she made him. Last year she entered a quilt contest at a local quilt show and won first place! I was so proud of her. She also spent this last year sewing cute dresses, room décor, and toys for her grandchild Hayley. She loved her dog, Jackson. He is five years old and was the love of their lives.

She is my hero, my friend, my sister. Several of us believe her husband, Dave could not handle the end, so he decided to go first and wait for her.  Debbie is, and always has been, the strong one. Debbie and Dave took a piece of my heart. It hurts.

Diana Bonn, Mindy Borrego, and Debbie.
<p>Diana Bonn, Mindy Borrego, and Debbie.</p>

Diana Bonn, Jenny Markakis, Debbie, and Athena Elliot.
<p>Diana Bonn, Jenny Markakis, Debbie, and Athena Elliot.</p>

 - Diana Bonn

As a longtime editor at NAILS, it was my privilege to handle Debbie's Nails on the 'Net column and her other stories back in the day. You couldn't help but love Debbie — she was kind, candid, amusing, and above all, she was generous. She was always happy to share what she know about the web, the industry, how to host a networking event, or how to make a better set of nails.

I met Debbie when I moved to Ronkonkoma, New York, in 2002 and she became my neighbor.  From day one, we became friends. In a new town, I needed to find a new nail technician as mine was now 45 minutes away.  I looked on the CND website and strange enough, I saw that there was a nail tech on my same street. I asked Debbie if she knew the tech CND listed and she responded, “Yep, I know who it is because that is me!” Anyone who knows Debbie knows about her funny, straightforward answers. We laughed so hard! She told me she wasn’t taking new clients, and I had trouble finding a new nail tech, so I decided I would start to fix my own nails. I used to watch when I would get my nails done so I figured, how hard could it be? Every time I would fix a nail, I would run next door, show Debbie my nails, and ask her which nail I fixed. She would pick it out immediately and give me tips on what I did wrong. Over time, the answer was harder to pick out so she started to tell me how talented I was and encouraged me to enroll in nail school. Because of Debbie, I am now a licensed nail technician. She introduced to me so many people, some of whom are now good friends of mine. Not only was Debbie my nail mentor, but over the past 15 years, we shared weddings, barbecues, shopping, and planting, but some of my best memories are of us just talking. Debbie and Dave Doerrlamm will always hold a place in my heart. Every time I step outside of my house and look over to their old home, I’m filled with warm memories. She was such a special woman inside and out and I will miss her terribly!  Rest easy Dave and Debbie.  

- Deb Cabrera

Debbie and her husband, Dave.
<p>Debbie and her husband, Dave.</p>

I remember speaking with her on the phone for the first time and hearing that voice and that accent! I won't share the contents of our conversation (since it was on the raunchy side), but I came away laughing. I watched as the BeautyTech/NailTech site blossomed and grew, and admired the sense of community she fostered. More recently, I enjoyed getting updates on her retirement plans, the grandbaby, her quilting, and the move to Virginia. I'll miss her.

 - Judy Lessin, senior managing editor, NAILS

My heart is so heavy. Debbie Doerrlamm was one of the most influential people in my nail career. BeautyTech is where I found Vicki Peters and Nikki Birch who answered any question I gave them and never made me feel stupid for asking. Debbie worked tirelessly to create an online community for nail professionals who made me feel like I wasn't alone in struggling to be better. She organized AOL chats, answered questions, and kept my passion for nails going in the darkest days when I thought I would never learn enough to be any good.  She made me want to pay it forward in helping others in person and online and has left a legacy of selfless service to others. RIP my beloved Debbie, I hope you're having an amazing time with your darling husband and the rest of our nail friends that went before you. XO

 Holly Schippers and Debbie
<p> Holly Schippers and Debbie</p>

- Holly Schippers

Debbie was like a second Mom to me.  She took me under her wing when I was first started out in the nail industry.  We became great friends.  When Debbie and Dave moved to Virginia permanently she entrusted me and Eleana to take over the Long Island nail tech event, her baby!  There is so much I can say. She is a very special person.  

 - Maureen Depeter

When I married Iryna, BeautyTech became a regular resource for me to learn more about the nail industry and read solutions to application problems. It was an invaluable resource and a genius idea. Later we had the pleasure of meeting Debbie when we attended a Long Island nail event she regularly organized. Together with Vicki Peters we had a lot of fun and Debbie was sweetness itself.

- Bob Giblett

Deb was a real person, fun and funny. Thanks for all that you have done for the nail industry, Deb. I will always remember Sunday nights at 7 p.m. waiting for the list to come alive with wickedwitch (Deb), nailwoman (Vickie), imagegal1 (me), mominajeep (Dawn White, who also left us too soon) and so many more. Be with all our friends and most important, with Dave. Love you.

 - Sue Pimentel Furtado Lafferty

I remember many hours "chatting" on Beautytech Sunday nights at 7 p.m. with Debbie Doerrlamm and others (Doug Schoon, Mindy Borrego). I was honored to be part of the education and building up of professionals that happened in those early days of the 'net that Debbie created! It was so important to my growth and education, as I'm sure it was to others. She will be missed!

 - LaCinda Headings

Debbie was my mentor who gave me pointers back in 2007 on starting a networking event in Gatlinburg. We finally met in person at the Orlando Social in 2015 & I was so excited to meet her after having so many phone conversations over the years.

She just laughed at my enthusiasm, as if to say "chill out, girl. I'm just another nail tech like you". Without Beautytech.com we couldn't have organized the Nail Tech Event of the Smokies. Debbie also did my salon web design & got me interested in learning how to do it myself, which before I'd never have thought possible. She was indeed a trailblazer & we'll miss her presence in the nail world.

 - Jill Wright

I came into the nail industry in 2001, about the time she started Beauty Tech. Debbie was a fabulous mentor, encouraging, coaching, and advising nail techs all over the world. She touched so many lives and inspired us to be better, to excel and be creative. May she rest peacefully with angels!

 - Kathy Gaeta Kessler

I believe that she had recently lost her husband and suspect that she died of a broken heart, which makes her loss so sad! She was a true internet innovator and brought thousands of techs together online way before the technology was available to most. I give my condolences to her family. RIP Debbie D!

- Jim Guppy

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