Want to be educated and inspired? Want some perspective on our industry? It’s a good bet that Catherine Baek Dambrosia, director of global education for Orly and SpaRitual, can help. A 20-year industry veteran, Baek worked for Shiseido Cosmetics America, Kose America, and PurMinerals before arriving at Orly seven years ago. She recently took over the testing development department for the brands as well.
We wanted to learn more about her:
You began your career in beauty as an esthetician with an interest in makeup. What drew you to nails?
Baek Dambrosia: I actually began my career as a painting and drawing student. When I was in college, I took a job at the Lancome counter in a department store to earn some extra cash to purchase my art supplies. At first, I was nervous about working at a makeup counter, but since I had an in-depth knowledge of color, composition, shading, and 3-D, it was an easy transition.
My stepmother was a nail technician and a nail salon owner, so I grew up with an understanding of nails and what clients were looking for, but I never dreamed that I would be working in the same industry. I dabbled in makeup artistry for television, commercials, and fashion shows, then realized that I was happiest educating people on how to make others genuinely feel good, rather than just making someone look beautiful.
Then came the opportunity to work for Orly. In the beginning I wasn’t sure about nails, but I fell in love with Orly, nail technicians, and the industry. I soon realized that a 1cm x 1cm nail surface can be so exciting. It’s been very rewarding to work for Orly and to be a part of the nail industry.
How does your fine arts degree come into play in your current job?
Baek Dambrosia: I use my art knowledge in everything I do. For me, I see concept, balance, color, composition, and how everything can work well together or how it doesn’t. I still love art in every form — from canvas to face to nails to graffiti to digital. Companies like Shiseido taught me not to look solely at the product. How we serve, presentation, and the connections we make with others are just as important as what is inside the bottle. The art and grace of serving are actually undervalued in our society.
You recently took over the testing development department. What are your goals as the brands develop new products?
Baek Dambrosia: I’m always asking fundamental questions, like how is this easier or more beneficial for the professional techs. When Jeff Pink first started the business, he often asked techs for input and listened to their needs. This is still one of the most important aspects of our product testing development. We need to know what the professionals are saying, then see how it also affects the end users, our consumers.
How are you involved with the new Orly Breathable Treatment + Color line? Of course you know that nails don’t breathe. So what does “breathable” refer to?
Baek Dambrosia: I’ve been overseeing product testing and writing educational material. Our message is that our formula is breathable — meaning it allows` hydration to pass through as well as excess hydration from the nails to escape. The permeability of this product has great benefits. It allows longer wear since it avoids water-logged nails, plus it allows other hydrating products to permeate to the nail. The technology is similar to breathable contact lenses and breathable clothing. Basically, the breathable formula is long-wearing and it’s healthy for the nails overall.