For us here at Nail Klub, our monthly posts aren’t just a chance to hone our hand modeling skills. They’re also a great excuse for us to discover trends, share ideas, and experiment with new colors and products, all in the company of creative companions. It’s a favorite hobby for our group of gals, but Rebecca Isa, Creative Director at Zoya and the subject of Nail Klub’s first Best Job Ever, has turned her passion for all things cosmetics into a seriously cool career.
Based in Cleveland, Zoya is a salon brand that creates beautifully brilliant polishes devoid of formaldehyde and other spooky toxins. Its eye-catching yet accessible “color flows” have become a rising favorite of salons, fashion designers, and nail fans everywhere. Rebecca acts as the company’s creative compass, using her artistic, business, and science-savvy expertise to pick Zoya’s upcoming palettes. “I always try to think what can we do, what can we do with that base or that pigment or that ingredient that would keep it fresh and keep it different,” she says in an interview with us.
Innovating in the nail polish world is first and foremost about having a keen eye for color, which Rebecca likens to the well-trained tastebuds of a master chef. “They may be able to pick out 40 different ingredients in what they’re tasting, whereas you and I might just say ‘it’s chocolate.’” You also have to be able to see past your own pigment prerogatives. “The more you’re able to put your own preferences aside in terms of what you would personally wear, the more varied a collection you can come up with,” she explains. She, herself, may never wear a particular hue, but Rebecca knows that it might just be someone else’s favorite. “And you know, they deserve to have beautiful shades that look totally gorgeous on them.”
When she’s not comparing colors, Rebecca performs careful trend analysis to determine what color collections would best suit the interests of her audience. “The trend analysis that I do is specific for the nail market, for the nail color market, for our customer base,” she adds. “It is directly connected to the background I have in economics. So, much the same way someone would do trend forecasting for stocks and bonds or for companies — I do the same thing, but for color.”
In college, Rebecca followed what she calls “a very corporate track,” studying business, economics, and chemistry. “I was the only woman in most of my math and science classes,” she notes. Her passion for cosmetics, meanwhile, was indulged outside of class in a retail position.
“Those two paths in my life were parallel for a long time,” says Rebecca. Indeed, art and science are often portrayed as two different cliques — there are the creative art school kids and the suit-and-tie business brains. But Rebecca’s experience is a perfect example of the possibilities — and happiness — that can come from breaking out of those stereotypical pigeonholes.
“If I’m on a trip somewhere and I’m in the airport, I’m probably reading the Economist, or Discover. It’s just because I really like that stuff,” she says. “As much as I work in a field that is fashion forward and fun and full of creative hip cool people, I am not one of those people. I am kind of a geeky, nerdy person. And I have said, ‘Okay, I can be that person and still love creativity and love color and love pigment.’”
In short, don’t worry so much about whether you’re right brained or left brained. “If you get the opportunity to use both, you should definitely use both.”