How I Got Here
Balanda Atis Manager, Multicultural Beauty Lab, L’Oréal USA
A L’Oréal USA chemist shares how hard work brought her to her dream job.
LOCATION East Orange, NJ CHILDREN Jade, 12, and Abigail, 2
If it’s been easier to find a foundation shade that matches your skin tone in recent years, you might have this woman to thank. In 2007, Balanda Atis was working in the mascara division when a senior manager said their new foundation meant that everyone would be able to find their perfect tint. Balanda and her fellow chemists of color bravely spoke up. “We still can’t find our shade,” Balanda recalls telling him. “From that simple phrase, he said, ‘If you haven’t found a solution, then try to find one.’” Balanda then set off on a country-crossing mission, “measuring” people’s skin tones and working nights and weekends until she had 20,000 data points. After making a breakthrough in stabilizing a pigment, Balanda developed dozens of makeup shades for people with deeper skin tones across the L’Oréal brands, including Lancôme, L’Oréal Paris and Maybelline, and got promoted to manager of her own lab.
As this was all happening, she was in the process of adopting her first daughter, from Haiti. She wasn’t new to parenting, having raised her goddaughter from a young age, but balancing boss duties with single motherhood came with lessons. “The first thought was, ‘I can’t manage both.’ Then you take a step back and ask, ‘ Well, why can’t I?’ I learned to break things down to a bare minimum so it all wasn’t super overwhelming.” The most rewarding part of her job? “The days are long, but the connection to women and girls helps us stay focused on our goals.”
“There are days when you get tired, but you have to look to the finish line.”
“Jade (right) was born in Haiti, and survived the earthquake. It was a difficult time, but she is here now and keeping me on my toes.” FAMILY MATTERS
“When crises come up, I try to simplify things and bring it down to the basics. That way, it’s much easier to find solutions.” BALANCING ACT
“By stabilizing Ultramarine Blue pigment, we were able to go deeper in skin tone without becoming too dirty or muddy.” BLUES CLUES