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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Ramy Gafni, Beauty Mogul

Ramy Gafni, a native New Yorker, began his career in beauty after dropping out of law school and moving to Sydney, Australia in 1995 to attend beauty school. This career change offered Ramy the opportunity to pursue freelance work as a professional makeup artist when he traveled through Singapore and Europe and back to his hometown of New York where he started working for cosmetic companies as he developed his reputation as the go to makeup artist for editorial, television and celebrity makeup.

Ramy was then hired as Makeup Director at Brad Johns Salon on Fifth Avenue where he developed their makeup line and began shaping eyebrows on his makeup clients. Just as his career as a beauty expert was taking off,doing makeup for photo shoots, runway shows and celebrities, Ramy was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and began a five month course of Chemotherapy followed by one month of daily radiation treatment.. He went to work every day in an effort to keep as much normalcy in his life as possible, but was let go from the salon on the tail end of his Chemo treatment, being told, “You’re not the pretty boy we hired.” 

So, Ramy began seeing clients out of his apartment, and thanks to great press for his prowess with eyebrow shaping, business was booming. We have added to the press: Ramy then decided to create his own brand of cosmetics, RAMY beauty therapy, to sell to his clients. One year later, in 1999, he launched the brand at Bergdorf Goodman.

In 2005, Ramy published Beauty Therapy – The Ultimate Guide To Looking and Feeling Great While Living with Cancer. (September 2005, Rowman & Littlefield) which coincides with his volunteer work, teaching a beauty class at CancerCare and donating proceeds from various products to Cancer charities. (The Young Survival Coalition, Susan G. Komen’s Race For The Cure, where Ramy was on the Board of Directors for three years, the Breast Cancer research Fund, The National Children’s Leukemia foundation and the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society).

Ramy’s philosophy is simple: “Minimum makeup, Maximum impact!” Meaning, if you select the correct color palette to enhance your features and apply it correctly, you can look younger and more beautiful with a minimum of products and effort.

Ramy sees clients at RAMYSPA, which opened it’s doors in 2004 and is also headquarters to the brand where work on the development of the RAMY beauty therapyƒ product collection is ongoing.. His ability to select optimum colors for each individual as well as dramatically lift the eye with his gift for eyebrow shaping, has been written up in the pages of every major fashion and beauty magazines including: Vogue, Allure, Self, Shape, Lucky, Health and Town & Country, to name a few.

Ramy’s work has also been seen on national television shows including E! Entertainment Television’s Fashion File and Entertainment Tonight. Ramy’s work has also graced the runways of recognizable fashion shows such as Ann Taylor, Valentino and XOXO. Right now you can see his work on the face of Peachy Deegan!

Known as the “Willy Wonka” of the beauty world, Ramy strives to bring innovative formulas and products to the market that did not previously exist. The first eye, cheek and lip formula (Face Gloss) is one example of a product conceived first by Ramy, as well as silicone based liquid to powder formulas and Soap bars that convert to Bubble baths!

Ramy is known for his humor, honesty and creative mind. He helps people bring out their individual beauty and ability to feel good about themselves while creating innovative and unique products. Celebrity clients include: Rhianna, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, David Spade and Katherine Heigl, Rob Morrow, Mariska Hargitay, Liev Schrieber, Michael McKean, Marisa Tomei, Matt Dillon, Gina Gershon, Claire Danes, Naomi Watts, Joe Pantoliano, Monica Lewinsky, Lillian Vernon, Halle Berry, Naomi Campbell, Annabella Sciorra, Ivanka Trump, Diana Krall, Carol Burnett, Julia Stiles, Tricia Helfer, Jennifer Grey, Amanda Sorvino, Ray Romano, Roz Abrams, Holly Robinson Peete, Joan Rivers, Nancy Loo, Pia Getty, Jennifer Bassey, Deborah Gibson, Kelly Klein, Lauren Holly, Elizabeth Vargas, Carrie-Anne Moss, Cher, Faith Hill, Meredith Viera, Barbara Walters, Veronica Webb, Christine Baranski, Jean Smart, Jane Pauley, Joy and Regis Philbin, Debra Messing and Renee Zellweger. We are so pleased to present him as our latest Mover and Shaker! Peachy Deegan interviewed Ramy Gafni for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: How did you first become interested in the world of beauty?
Ramy Gafni: I started out as a kid giving makeovers to my sister's (and my) Barbie dolls, then in high school, applied makeup on girlfriends before going out. I also used to follow the modeling industry, sending away to the Ford and Elite modeling agencies for their model books. I used to also collect magazine covers and study the work of brilliant makeup artists like Way Bandy and Kevin Aucoin.

Did your law school experience help you in what you do now?
Law School made me a better businessman. I can read a contract and it's not gibberish. It also taught my artistic mind to look at every situation from every different angle.

What kinds of eyebrows are the most challenging to fix and why?
Overly thin eyebrows are the most challenging. I always say the more I have to work with, the more perfect I can make the brows.

What kinds of eyebrows are the most fun to do?
Virgin Brows that have never been touched are my favorite, where I don't have to repair someone else's shoddy work and the client is always so shocked and thrilled with the results.

What are the biggest mistakes people make with their eyebrows?
Over-tweezing, removing too much hair from the wrong part of the eyebrow, creating the awful hook shape and getting waxed, where there is no precision are the three biggest mistakes.

If you were stranded on a desert island with only ten of your products what would they be and why?
1. My Ultimate Therapy Cream 2. Skin Stick Concealer. 3. Sun Smooched Bronzer 4. Alive! Blush 5. Elixir Skin conditioning Primer 6. Sleep in Beauty 7. Pure Juice highlighter 8. Lip Oils! 9. Triumph Mascara Revitalizer 10. Liqui-Powder Elixir Foundation.

What advice would you have for anyone that is trying to overcome cancer?
It sounds cliche, but take it one day at a time. Remember that the situation is (hopefully) temporary. A positive attitude will make the journey so much better.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
My father taught me to dream big and my mother taught me to work hard to achieve those dreams.  

What are you proudest of and why?
I'm proudest that I've survived in a tough industry while remaining kind and not losing sight that I'm making people happy when I help them look their best.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
There are a few celebrities I'd like to get my hands on. Also, I'd like to finally win a CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women) Beauty award for one of my products. I'm like the Susan Lucci of that award!!!!

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
Volunteer of the Year Award from CancerCare, Inspiration of the Year Award, from the Michael awards, Redbook MVP for Triumph Mascara Revitalizer, Best Mascara Product Award from Health Magazine's Healthy Beauty awards.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
Bell, book and Candle on Christopher Street.

What is your favorite drink?
Water, Diet ginger ale, Shiraz wine

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
At home, with the fireplace on, with my cat, Arlo, watching TV. There, I said it!

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Bar 6

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Wiesberger

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?
Central Park. Immortality, here I come!

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Running to the ice cream truck! (just kidding) The Barney's Warehouse sale.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
Walking to and from work every day through Madison Square Park.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
Meeting Lady GaGa on line at Duncan Donuts. Seriously.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Murray Hill is underrated. Pinkberry is overrated.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
I like West Coast Peachy because I'm a New Yorker but I'm always trying to keep abreast of all the cool happenings on the West Coast and West Coast Peachy is like having a friend out there telling me about all the best places and things.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I'm left handed and my humor gets me through everything life throws at me. Also, I'm always the horse to back. Always.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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