Friday, March 9, 2012

First Look Fridays: Founder Ji Baek of Rescue Beauty Lounge

If you're as obsessed with nail polish as I am, chances are you've incorporated Rescue Beauty Lounge into your arsenal. Founder Ji Baek consistently turns out amazing, not-seen-anywhere-else colors that garner tons of compliments and have incredible staying power. Her fans can approach a rabid near frenzy, causing limited-edition polishes to sell out in minutes and clamoring for new releases for months in advance. Read on to discover how Ji got her start in the nail business, what we can expect from her next collection and so much more.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
My family immigrated to New York from South Korea when I was 12 years old -- I have been a Manhattan brat ever since. My arduous journey before the birth of Rescue Beauty Lounge included playing piano, violin and viola, along with studying restaurant management, going to culinary school, and finally, attending a nail school.

How did you first become interested in beauty and nail polish?
My mom is obsessed with skincare. She had a stern skin regime for my sisters and me ever since I can remember. I know it’s peculiar, but besides keeping up with a good daily cleanser, moisturizer, eye cream and lip balm, I was never really interested in beauty. Nail polish was something that I stumbled upon when we opened RBL because many of our clients complained that they could never keep nail polish on for more than a couple of days without it chipping. I had the best market research right under my fingertips.

How did the idea for Rescue Beauty Lounge first come about, and how did it become a reality?
When it comes to beauty treatments, the nudity, the locker rooms and a stranger's touch are not my friends. RBL was born out of my selfishness and pure frustration. When I was a restaurant manager, I would retreat to pedicure treatments to soothe my aching feet, feet that were in heels daily -- at least 12 hours a day. I could not find, for the life of me, a clean, hygienic, cool place to get my nails done. I knew I was not alone and just out of curiosity, I enrolled in a nail school. Boy, was I shocked by the shady operations that were violating numerous state regulations -- RBL was born to provide cool, safe and health regulated nail services.

Where do you get your inspiration for new colors and collections?
Everything and anything that interests me in life and that moves me.

Do you have any favorite colors or products from the line? What makes them so special to you?
I love all of my colors equally, it’s a long journey to make a color and if it’s born and not buried in my reject drawer, then it has captivated my heart.

What can we expect from Rescue Beauty Lounge going forward?
Rather then producing a seasonal collection, I will choose a story that inspires me. My new collection coming up is the largest that I have ever made and produced at one time -- seven colors!

Being a nail polish creator must be fun -- but what do you do in your spare time?
It's not always fun, but I love the artistic process of starting with my inspirational board, researching and then translating these ideas into mixing pigments. But like all artists, I have turbulent moments of frustration, anger, joy and bliss along with absolutely passionate and dizzying emotions.

Cooking calms and lulls me into a meditative state. I'm also an avid reader, escaping from reality is a necessity. I find grace in my ballet lessons -- I have studied ballet for the past five years. Traveling to new and unknown places keeps me humble and opens my eyes and senses to new beauty in life.

To add to your Rescue Beauty Lounge collection, visit You can also follow Rescue Beauty Lounge on Twitter and Facebook.

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