Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Interview With Ji Baek of Rescue Beauty Lounge Nail Polish

 Concrete Jungle

In your book you write about the decision to open Rescue Beauty Lounge. Did you start your salon with your own polish line or did this come later? What made you decide to start the polish line?    
We opened our first location in 1998, the polish line came around 2003. I had an ex- partner whom I ended up having nasty break up with at the end,  but as always good things do come out of nightmares. She actually convinced me to have the nail polish line. There was a definite void for high end nail polish that has interesting colors and that lasts a long time. 

We all know that Rescue Beauty Lounge nail polish is synonymous with quality, but how did you go about creating the colors for your brand in the beginning? 
Having the service end I had a close pulse in market research, my priority for the formula was long lasting nail polish with rich pigmentation. It took two and a half years to develop-I'm still a living nightmare for the lab that I work with. I'm pretty much type A, it doesn't matter how long it takes I want and need it perfect. Two questions I always ask "Would you wear it?" "Would you buy it?"
How do you determine what colors will make it into a new collection? Where do you get your inspiration from? 
Inspiration is often on runway trends but it also has to work organically with colors and texture. Sometime we put a spin on it - politics or themes. 
How do you feel about the almost cult following of your brand? 
I'm in awe and completely humbled by all the die hard fans. 
Recently you decided to bring back some discontinued colors based on feedback. This is unheard of from many companies. What made you decide to bring these colors back? 
I respect and listen to our consumers if color is in high demand why shouldn't we accommodate? That sometimes is the beauty of having a small company.
Your latest collection - the surf collection - sold out in both pre-sales, will there be more of these colors for those who missed the pre-sales?  
It will be available to the general public in the beginning of May. 
Will any of your limited edition colors ever make it to your core line?  
It really depends on inventory, budget and of course the fans voice of demands.
Are you going to be releasing more collections in the future, like maybe a summer collection? 
We were actually looking into making summer colors but reintroducing Scrangie, No More War and Opaque Nude took it all out of our budget.
Do you really keep your nails polished all the time and how often do you change your polish colors?  
I keep my color on until it chips and always log how many days it last. I do not really see or try other brands to keep my creative juices original. Although I do wear nail polish all the time I'm also aware to rotate dark to light colors to keep my nails from staining. About every six weeks I keep them buff to let them breathe for a week.
 Purple Haze
What is your favorite go to color from your line? 
It varies from what kind of mood I'm in but before Bangin it was matching Chionoise, Grunge and Clear Pink. By go to meaning I might wear this more that six time a year. I have a blast revisiting all the colors.

And finally, I am dying to plan a trip to NYC just so I can go to your salon. Would a nail fanatic like myself be able to not just receive a manicure or pedicure at your salon, but by you? If so how far in advance are you booked?  
My philosophy in life is quality not quantity-this is generally applied to all aspects of my life. When we first opened it was me, one other technician that I trained and my husband who helped me answer the phone, of course business grew and step by step we hired more people. I was actually doing service for about a good four years but I would never book it under my name. Coming from a restaurant management background, it is impossible to oversea quality control if you book your self solid, the goal for us is to train all the technicians according to my protocol. (I still help out even to this day when we are behind or over booked) Of course I can charge an arm and a leg for my services, but then we probably will not have a nail polish line or have time to answer every single e-mail that comes our way. The biggest gratification about my career is I have trained so many technicians over the 12 years - to know that they could not even hold a file correctly now they own their own salons and make huge wages for being a top technician. We still have some of our original crew.
         Thank you for taking the time for this interview Ji.

Give - Away Reminder

If you haven't entered the give-away - you still have some time. Ji is giving away 2 complete sets of her Surf collection. Click here for information and to enter. 


  1. That was so insightful! I totally enjoyed reading this interview. :)

  2. I enjoyed this. You asked some great questions and I learned a few things.
    I know there will be some who will scoff at Ji saying she lets her nails "breathe" for a week, but I think what people mean when they say that is this: If you leave your nails naked for a week, every time you moisturize, that gets to your nails as well. That's important I think. I'm not sure I'd do a week, but I usually do a full day of intense moisturizing with no polish on. In that way, nails do need to "breathe"

  3. Great interview, and congratulations to you for getting such a scoop!

    Nancy (NanRx)

  4. That was a great review! Excellent interview all around.

  5. I totally loved reading this!!!

  6. WOW! What a treat!! I think I'm goimg to have to order her book mow!! Thanks for this interview and sharing it with us.

  7. I am glad everyone liked the interview! I think it was great that Ji answered the questions as honestly as she did.

    Liz - I agree with your assessment. I too let my nails "breathe". I don't mean it in a literal sense, but I take the polish off and try to whiten them and buff them so they are prime to take in moisturizing benefits that they can't take in when they are covered in polish. I can't last a week without polish - but a few days and it I think it helps keep my nails strong. I notice that when I don't do this I suffer more breaks. And heck sometimes it is just nice not to anything on my nails.

  8. Glad I looked back and saw that the interview was this last wednesday, not next wednesday! Great article- very interesting. I agree with Ji about letting nails "breathe," polish IS a barrier on your nail, after all. And just by it's nature, even the purest, most nature friendly polish is still chemicals. Good to take a break now and then. (But I do miss the color...)
    I'm so glad you asked about wether any of the limited edition colors would ever make it to the "core" line. Thank you! You said what lots of us wanted to put our two cents in on!!!