How I Got Here

Ba­landa Atis Man­ager, Mul­ti­cul­tural Beauty Lab, L’Oréal USA

Working Mother - - Contents -

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

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