LONDON, United Kingdom — Every era has its beauty obsession. The 1960s had fake spidery lashes, the 80s were all about big hair, while the 90s were synonymous with self-tan. These trends seem to come from nowhere, yet they define the signature look of the decade (think Twiggy, the cast of Dallas and Paris Hilton respectively). Over the last five years, the focus has shifted to hands and specifically the weird and wacky world of nail art. Nail beauty has proved to be the ideal marketing vehicle for cosmetic brands – it is something that all women can enjoy, share and compare, as the streams of nail pictures on Instagram and Twitter clearly illustrate. But this branch of beauty was not always as ‘inclusive’ as social media would have us believe…
Interview Kim D’Amato Founder of PRITINYC
Enter New York denizen and former model Kim D’Amato, the founder of PRITINYC, which specialises in premium nail polishes that are organic and free from chemical ‘nasties’. Kim launched her business following her first pregnancy 10 years ago because she simply could not find any long-lasting and luxurious colours that were safe for mothers-to-be.
Thanks to Kim’s sheer perseverance and her unwavering beliefs, PRITINYC has acquired a cult following in the US, favoured by A-listers as well as fashion brands such as Stella McCartney, Donna Karan and Tommy Hilfiger who regularly feature her polishes on their catwalk models. I caught up with Kim to learn more about her amazing journey so far.
You are celebrating PRITINYC’s 10th anniversary this year, do you ever think back to the days when this was just an idea? Was there a lightening bolt moment? Or have you always been interested in health and wellbeing?
I was actually sitting with friends the other day and it reminded me of my struggle to make people think about what they were putting on their bodies. I felt it was falling on many deaf ears, but I did have my friends over at Teens Turning Green talking out loud about the harmful chemicals that teenagers were putting on the body’s largest organ: the skin! I also met some of the most amazing young entrepreneurs who were building their green beauty brands and who remain friends until this day.
Also Whole Foods was just being built here in the East Village, so the awareness for organics was beginning to grow.
Thank you for making me stop and realise it was 10 years ago. It is easy to not stop and keep pushing to the next step.
A decade ago ‘eco nail chic’ was not a trend as such. Even nail art had not really taken off. Did you find it hard to get people to listen and take your brand seriously when you first launched? How did you get people to listen? I think you pretty much pioneered non-toxic nail varnishes….
I was pregnant when I walked into that salon and had that moment, but it took many years from there to move into the right space in my head and take those steps to create it. I had to deal with the birth of a child and a dissolving marriage and that was actually the catalyst for it.
My husband told me: “Instead of working for someone else, put your ideas into action, go for it.” So each week I took a day out of my office life as a photographers’ agent to put myself through nail technician classes, so I would know my business from the bottom up. On a wing and a prayer, I just did it. I had been reading Sir Richard Branson’s book, Screw It Just Do It, and I found a gap in the market.
Organics was not a world I was aware of, but growing up in North Queensland, Australia, we ate the fish we caught, the farmers all dropped round tomatoes, mangoes and fresh veg… I guess it was always there in me, somewhere.
When I opened my spa, I could not find a nail polish I liked so I decided to create my own line. At that time, no one was using non-toxic formulas because of the price. So knowing the benefits were much better than regular polish, I embarked on the expensive journey – I wanted my spa to be as green as possible so I found the best possible options and people.
The polish then began to sell out as I had only created it for my spa; word got out and it grew from there.
Having PRITI ORGANIC SPA as a base, I think it helped establish the reputation and stability of the brand.
Do you still get a buzz when you see celebrities wear your varnishes? Who is your biggest fan?
I am honoured when I hear celebrities like Jessica Alba and Miranda Kerr, who both have amazing brands of their own, talk about my brand in their books and to the press. It makes me feel proud that these ladies have time to try my brand and say wonderful things about PRITINYC and choose to share their knowledge with their followers, clients and friends. I think the ‘green’ beauty business has been created with the help of amazing, caring and nurturing women and we are all happy to support each other and create awareness. Almost every woman I have met on this journey has been amazing like that.
I know you have a kids’ range and products like the soy nail varnish remover and biodegradable nail file… are there any products that are in development? It must be exciting to explore new ways to make beauty items better for the body…
Yes I am making cuticle oils with soy and essential oils. I recently did my aromatherapy certification and I would love to incorporate the healing qualities of plants in products that nurture and restore health to our hands and feet.
What is your stance on Gel manicures?
I am not a fan of gel as the removal process seems to be quite damaging, but I am sure it will have an audience anyway.
Can you tell me five ways that we can treat our hands/skin better? What are your top tips?
Moisturise your hands and feet. Cuticle oils are essential especially in the winter. Take time out. Book massages/manis/pedis and anything that makes you stop and breathe and nurture your hands and feet. Life is a journey and remember they are a huge part of what gets you there.
What were your New Year resolutions, if you do not mind me asking?
I do not make resolutions, but I have decided to be more gentle to myself and maybe fall in love again…